China-Australia relations have soured further overnight with the communist country leadership accusing the Australian Broadcasting Corporation of racism over its treatment of a Chinese expert featured on its 7pm national TV news.
In a segment on the AFP and ASIO raids on NSW Labor parliamentarian Shaoquett Moselmane amid allegations Chinese government agents had infiltrated his office, the ABC broadcast comments from Dr Feng Chongyi, Associate Professor in China Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.
He is also adjunct Professor of History, Nankai University, Tianjin, and is China’s first holder of a PhD in contemporary Chinese history. His current research focuses on intellectual and political development in modern and contemporary China, as well as political economy of China’s provinces.
Although Dr Chongyi spoke perfectly understandable if halting English last night, someone at the ABC decided his comments needed subtitles (pictured at top).
And China has called that decision “a humiliating slap-in-the-face for a highly respected Chinese academic who has been a long-term Australian resident”.
In a statement released through the Chinese embassy in Canberra overnight, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry added: “Dr Chongyi was head of China Studies at UTS for 11 years during 1995-2006. Do you think his lectures needed sub-titling during that time?
‘To suggest Dr Chongyi can’t easily be understood after living in Australia for so long is as inflammatorily racist as it is insulting.”
The Bug understands the ABC received thousands of angry calls over the incident, mainly from Chatswood and North Sydney Boys High on Sydney’s North Shore, and that management has begun an internal investigation into the sub-titling incident.
If it considers the racism accusation valid, ABC chair Ita Buttrose will consider writing a long and detailed letter of apology to China’s President Xi Jinping.
One furious ABC insider told us: “With all the budget cuts and ongoing staff losses, do you think we can afford to be creating sub-titles when they are clearly not needed?”