The Ming family, one of the five largest telecom fraud syndicates in northern Burma, has been arrested, three members of the family have been arrested, and the head of the family, Ming Xuechang, has committed suicide. Together with other syndicates that have already switched sides, 31,000 suspected fraudsters have been handed over by the Burmese side to the Chinese side so far.
China’s crackdown on Kokang has almost been completed, to the applause of Chinese informants. But while the fraud plague in northeastern Burma may be over for now, there’s a good chance that it will simply move on to another lawless corner of the globe and start up again.
Do you know the real North Burma?
With a population of 58 million and an area of about 676,500 square kilometers, Myanmar is the 40th largest country in the world and the second largest in Southeast Asia. The history of Myanmar is dominated by four ethnic groups: the Mon (မန် mawn), the Khmer (ပျူ), the Burmese (ဗမာ Băma) and the Dai (ဗမာ Tay, also known as the Shan). ). In G. E. Harvey’s History of Burma, it is argued that the Burmese claimed to have come from the Buddha’s tribe in North India, and that they retained many of the cultural customs of India, having entered Burma from Assam, India, around the end of the reign of the Emperor. Historically, Burma had an autonomous dynasty, but it became a British colony in the mid-19th century, and now its GDP is less than US$5,000 per person on average, ranking 130th in the world, making it a very poor country. Over the past 50 years, Burma has been under military rule and social development has lagged behind.
Burma is divided into two units, “Upper Burma” and “Lower Burma”, which has led to obvious differences in ethnic structure, production methods and cultural characteristics. The British colonial rulers further aggravated the divide by adopting different ruling policies for Upper and Lower Burma, and by “using the barbarians to fight against the barbarians,” and Burma became independent in 1948, but the rift in history did not heal on its own. Geographically, northern Burma’s high mountains, rugged terrain, and complex ethnic composition have made it a region where all forces are intertwined; economically, in order to support the armed forces’ survival activities, many of the local armed forces in northern Burma have made their economy based on illegal industries such as drug, jade, and timber smuggling, and the underground economy is thriving.
The chaotic political environment has laid the groundwork for the growth of the black and gray industry in northern Burma, while technological advances have “catalyzed” its transformation. China has long maintained good relations with the Burmese military government, and has also supported the military forces in northern Burma, especially those under the control of the Kokang warlord Pang Ka-sing, known as the “King of Kokang,” the founder of the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and the former chairman of the first special administrative region of Burma’s Shan State. Under his rule, northern Burma became a center of various illegal activities, and in the 1990s, after years of heavy-handed crackdowns, the drug trafficking that had once been rampant in the north of the country subsided, and some of the Minjab districts began to look for other ways to make money. In 2019, Myanmar’s new Gambling Law, which allows foreigners to legally register and operate casinos in the country, further accelerated the development of online gambling in northern Myanmar. The rapid development of global mobile communication technology has also seen the integration of Internet technology with the dysfunctional economic model of northern Burma, which has led to a gradual change in the economic structure of the region.
Looking at Burma’s neighboring countries, some of China’s P2P platforms and Internet fraud syndicates are gradually spreading to the north of the country and forming a community of interest with local forces. At the same time, against the backdrop of joint enforcement actions between China and Southeast Asian countries, telecommunication network crime syndicates from the Philippines, Cambodia and other countries are shifting to Myanmar. As a result, northern Burma and Myawaddy in Myanmar have become the hardest-hit areas in Southeast Asia and even globally in terms of telecommunication fraud.
China’s stance on Myanmar as a center for piracy has been extremely influential. China has maintained good relations with Peng Jiasheng and his military family, but has a long history of cooperation with the Burmese government. However, Chinese nationals are also the biggest victims of telecoms fraud, so China’s willingness to crack down on telecoms fraud and cooperate with the Burmese government will be key.
In the opinion of many criminals in northern Burma, compared with drug trafficking, online gambling is “less risky and more profitable”. The economic development of Wa and Kokang has begun to rely on the Internet gambling and fraud industry. In Wa State, for example, in Mangnang County of Wa State, there is even a situation where school buildings are rented out to fraudulent companies. It is no wonder that there are hundreds of fraud parks in Myawaddy on the Burma-Thailand border alone. Together with the fraud syndicates that are entrenched in parts of northern Burma, there are at least 1,000 parks in total, with more than 100,000 people practicing telecommunication frauds every day.
The delicate relationship with China
Since the beginning of the year, China has taken a more proactive stance on telecoms fraud. According to the Chinese side, the Ministry of Public Security and the Yunnan Provincial Public Security Bureau have been cooperating with relevant local law enforcement agencies in Myanmar on border police enforcement since September this year, which has resulted in a large number of suspects of wire fraud being caught in the net, and in November the Chinese public security authorities further deepened the cooperation between the two countries on police enforcement and launched an offensive against wire fraud in the north of the country. The cooperation between the two countries has resulted in a variety of combinations that have led to the success of the battle, with 31,000 suspects being handed over to China. But the story goes much further than that. Media sources have reported that China has supported the Burmese military since it seized power in 2021, while the Chinese government has maintained complex cross-border relations with armed factions in northern Burma for years, often outside the control of the military government.
China exerts significant influence in northern Shan State, particularly in areas controlled by the ethnic Kokang, Burma’s ethnic minority. The Chinese government is embarrassed by the large-scale criminal activities, especially telecommunication fraud, that are taking place in the border area and has vowed to stamp them out. For the past month, Myanmar has been staging a dramatic gangster movie to help China fight wire fraud. But it’s clear to everyone that the Three Brothers Alliance, led by the Kokang rebels, is fighting fraud and traitors, but its ultimate goal is to reclaim territory controlled by the Burmese military, and so the counter-fraud campaign has indirectly triggered a civil war in the country.
The Burmese authorities have long suspected Chinese involvement in supporting local armed factions. This year’s telecoms fraud crackdown is believed to be an attempt by China to help the armed forces in northern Burma to dismantle the fraud syndicates, indirectly triggering a civil war in Burma that has cost more than two million Burmese people their lives in displacement. Therefore, this anti-electrofraud campaign is like a slaying between CCP agents due to a conflict of interests, and it has once again trampled on Myanmar’s democracy, which has been difficult to achieve due to internal racial tensions.
Of course, China cannot be blamed for the difficulty of democracy in Burma, because the internal conflicts between the Burmese and the other seven ethnic minorities, even if resolved through a federal system, have made it impossible to reach a consensus on issues such as the official language and script, a common currency, or a single federal army, not to mention the fact that the Shan, Karen, and Kachin ethnic groups have split into different armed forces, and have long been in tension with the Burmese, all of which have been detrimental to the development of democracy. The recent resurgence of civil war has been a major factor against the development of democracy. The recent resurgence of the civil war has further aggravated the democratization process.
It’s hard to go back
As the campaign against telecoms fraud continues, new choices seem to be emerging for the Burmese government. But easier said than done. The fragmented political, economic and social landscape of northern Burma makes it difficult to develop a normal economic model. Over the past few decades, the Kokang economy has been supported first by drugs, then by gambling and wire fraud. Historically, northern Burma and Kokang have always been highly autonomous, and the government has always chosen to rule in cooperation with the local Tujia leaders; Peng Jiasheng, the chairman of the autonomous region that actually ruled Kokang from the late 1980s to 2009, once said that there was no way to do business in the region, with no land for agriculture and no market for industry. This has left Kokang with no choice but to rely on opium cultivation, drug trafficking, casinos, and, in recent years, even fraud parks to make a living.
Differences in aspirations for statehood and conflicts over the allocation of power and resources have led to armed conflict between the Burmese central government and ethnic armed groups, which continues to this day. Now, the four big families represented by Bai Sok Seng, Wei Chao Ren, Liu Guoxi, and Liu Zheng Xiang in the old streets of northern Burma have finally collapsed under the attack of the Kokang Allied Army. They died, were injured, and fled, and the former unrivaled families were suddenly scattered, and the former strong families could never return to their former prosperity.
The aftermath of the fraud sweep is a new round of military conflict between the local armed forces and the military government. A drone attack on a fleet of Chinese trucks has burned about 120 vehicles. China has yet to respond. After all, the civil war in Burma has so far not caused any substantial economic losses to China, so as long as China’s economy is not affected, the safety of the Chinese people is safeguarded, and China’s influence on the balance of power and stability of the Burmese parties in the future remains, this is the bottom line that China can accept.
China’s wait-and-see attitude is not difficult to understand. This is in line with their two-pronged strategy of maintaining a balance between the Burmese military government and the local ethnic armed forces. After all, there are major Chinese investments in Burma, such as the Belt and Road project and the Sino-Burmese oil and gas pipeline that runs through the Kokang and Rakhine regions to Kunming, which is especially crucial for China to avoid the Malacca dilemma. China’s attitude is therefore ambiguous, waiting to see what happens and enjoying the benefits. Inside Burma, even if the four big families are eliminated, the vacuum of power and economic hardship could allow new criminal forces to return to Kokang and resume their old ways with a new umbrella.
Many Western countries are aware of the support of the Burmese warlords in the telecom fraud ring, but as long as the influence of these activities is confined to the Chinese, they are reluctant to pay much attention to it. But as long as the influence of these activities is limited to the Chinese, they don’t want to pay much attention to them, because after all, this is a matter of internal affairs for the Burmese government, just like drug trafficking in Colombia or Mexico, in which the U.S. can’t intervene directly. The fact that the Chinese government has taken the initiative to assist Myanmar in dealing with telecom fraud may temporarily suppress the global trend of Chinese fraud, but it also affects the internal balance of military power in Myanmar. Whether or not this will destabilize the Burmese government in the near future is a development that we will all be aware of and concerned about. However, since Burma does not have much economic and political influence, it is likely that only the Chinese will keep an eye on the situation.
Text / Editorial Department
Photo / Internet
Silicon Valley in a “Palace Drama”
As the year 2023 comes to an end, the AI field, which has always been in the limelight, is staging a “Palace Drama” – reversing and reversing again.
After five days of chaotic infighting at OpenAI, Sam Altman returned to OpenAI as CEO and formed a new board of directors with Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo. This “epic power struggle” within OpenAI has shocked the entire tech community, earning the attention of the public, and giving us a chance to take a moment to look back at where AI has been and where it might be headed in the future. And what the future might hold for AI.
Continuing the “facepalm”
As we all know, OpenAI is currently one of the most highly regarded, influential and valuable AI companies in the world. This year, the company has brought its new version of chat robot ChatGPT into the market, shocking the world with its AI capabilities that are beyond people’s expectation and overturning people’s previous perceptions. Today, OpenAI is at the top of its game, with a funding valuation of more than US$80 billion. At this time, OpenAI has carried out a wave of “miraculous operations”, without warning, but within a few days, it has caused a strong earthquake in the industry.
The incident began on November 17th, when OpenAI, a globally popular Silicon Valley artificial intelligence company, suddenly and without warning released a statement that Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, had failed to maintain honesty in his communications with the board of directors, which had impeded the board’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities, and had thus fired Sam Altman from the company directly. The statement was met with an outcry: the reason was stated, but it was so vague as to be suspicious. The announcement of Sam Altman’s dismissal was followed by the resignation of another co-founder, Greg Brockman. The weekend after the incident, there were signs that Altman might quickly return to his position, but news quickly broke that Altman would be joining Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI.
In a post on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter, Microsoft CEO Della Nadella said Altman would lead “a new high-end AI R&D team” at Microsoft. Altman retweeted the post confirming his new job on X, saying “the mission continues”. Meanwhile, OpenAI appointed Emmett Shear, the former CEO of video and audio streaming platform Twitch, as interim chief executive officer. Immediately afterward, more than 700 OpenAI employees signed a letter demanding the resignation of the company’s board of directors over Altman’s removal. In the letter, they questioned the board’s competence, accused it of disrupting the company’s operations, demanded that Altman be reappointed, and threatened to resign en masse to follow Altman and Brockman to Microsoft unless the board resigned and reinstated them. What’s even more incredible is that the letter was even signed by Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist who is widely believed to be one of the architects of this “earthquake” and the soul of the company’s AI technology.
When Open AI was in its infancy, the participants believed that AI belonged to the entire human community, not to a few people who wanted to make money, so they left the highest authority to run the company in the hands of a group of founders and independent members with outside credibility who shared their goals. However, as the company grows in size with the results of the research and the support of the investors, the investors are demanding a return on their investment, and the participants are faced with the immeasurable results of their work, as well as the challenge of obtaining more funds to face the challengers and promote the original purpose of public welfare. Ilya, as the core of the project, finally supported the decision of the company’s guardians to expel the founder Altman from the company, opening up the reality that Open AI would have to face sooner or later.
The situation has changed from a coup d’état against Altman to an overthrow of the Board of Directors by all employees. Worried that the board’s actions would lead to the company’s collapse and the loss of billions of dollars in value, OpenAI shareholders were prepared to take strong action and file a lawsuit against the OpenAI board. Under pressure, the Board of Directors was forced to re-engage with Altman, and soon announced in a post on X that Altman was “reinstated”; as a prerequisite for his return, the Board of Directors also underwent a major turnover. This farce was put to rest for the time being.
This is a common situation for any company of its kind. As the Chinese idiom goes, “It’s easy to share the hard times, but hard to share the riches.” Not only did the founders struggle with their ideals, but also the employees, who joined the company with their interest, mission, and skills, saw their future bundled up with the company, and became key stakeholders in the benefits of the huge changes Open AI would bring to society. As a result, the initial management philosophy has been challenged by reality.
Innovation meets ethics
In less than a week, Altman was suddenly deposed, three CEOs were replaced in three days, there was a mass turnover of the entire staff, behind-the-scenes deals and lawsuits were threatened, the “push” failed, and the coup d’état “turned against the company”, with the main characters including the expansionist Altman, the gatekeeper of the security Sutzkiewicz, the conflicting interests of the D’Angelo …… power struggles and The power struggles and rivalries are as dazzling as Game of Thrones, and the situations are reversed, reversed, and reversed again. This sudden and rapidly unfolding event has attracted the attention of the entire technology industry and the media, and the outside world is speculating on how this upheaval will affect the direction of the development of artificial intelligence technology, or whether it is just a farce.
In 2015, when founders such as Altman and Musk came together to create the prototype of OpenAI, a non-profit organization based on the philosophical idea of effective altruism, the mission was to create artificial intelligence that would maximize the benefits to humanity and that would not be controlled by any capital or anyone else. But as it turns out, the most promising AI technologies require a lot of arithmetic power, and a lot of money. In a break with Musk, OpenAI has chosen to abandon its purely nonprofit organizational model in favor of a more realistic business path: OpenAI is still governed by a nonprofit board of directors, but has a for-profit subsidiary and is actively attracting venture capitalists and business partners. As founder and CEO, Altman says he has no ownership stake in the company, and Microsoft owns 49 percent of OpenAI.
The development prospect of artificial intelligence is indisputable, the major technology giants set off a new round of competition, as the AI leader OpenAI not to fall behind, can only continue to finance the money to maintain absolute technology leadership, Altman is seeking a series of expansion, the current valuation of OpenAI or reached 86 billion U.S. dollars. In contrast to Altman’s ambition and aggressiveness, Ilya Sutskever has always been very concerned about security, and he set up a “Super Alignment Team” this summer to align the goals of the AI system with the interests of mankind through a variety of technological means, and to prevent the AI system from engaging in behaviors harmful to mankind.
Over time, trust has been steadily and slowly eroding, making the Effective Altruists increasingly uneasy, which has led to questions from the board about how to use OpenAI’s technology or intellectual property rights. On the one-year anniversary of ChatGPT’s release, a “court battle” ensued as the Effective Altruism directors took the reins of power. Today, OpenAI is back to business as usual, as if nothing had happened, but the core conflict cannot be ignored. The end of this “court battle” reflects the difficulty of balancing idealism against reality, and the difficulty of balancing “profitable expansion” with “non-profitable visions.” Behind OpenAI’s “shock” is an unpredictable clash of philosophies between the company’s rapid development and its imminent need for security governance. With the rapid development of AI technology, these two voices may need to be better balanced and understood.
The fight is now on hold, but the problems remain, and the further development of Open AI and other similar companies will need to address them. The challenge for governments around the world is how to ensure that Open AI can continue without compromising human safety, bring development to society, and provide returns for investors and workers. In totalitarian countries, AI is likely to be used by ambitious people as a tool to suppress humanity. In democratic countries, people may not be aware of the possible dangers of AI, and society will have to pay a heavy price for the full-scale use of AI in the end. Therefore, governments around the world can’t stay away from these issues and see them as purely a challenge to the business process.
Within OpenAI, Elysium and its supporters represent the relatively radical “left”, who want an “AI paradise” that is almost free of “commercialization sludge”, while the Altmans are on the more moderate “right”, who want a sustainable commercial company that gives due consideration to the vision of benefiting mankind under this premise. Ilya Sutskever’s subsequent reaction shows that he is remorseful for his involvement in the dismissal of the Ultramen. This may be a sign that he realizes that the long-term development of OpenAI will not be possible without Altman’s business operations. After all, the philosopher Karl Popper long ago said, “The attraction of utopianism
is the failure to realize that we cannot build a kingdom of heaven on earth. And people grow up.
OpenAI seems to have no choice but to give in and bring back Altman, who has already been kicked out, in order to keep OpenAI from destroying its leading position in the AI industry. Once again, this incident has undoubtedly brought to the forefront what’s right and what’s wrong with AI. It’s reasonable to ask: What’s going on inside the company? Where is the debate and competition over how AI should be developed going? Will the chaos that has characterized the AI industry finally change?The OpenAI drama is over, but an even bigger mess may have just begun.
With the return of Sam Altman, the details of his dismissal are beginning to emerge. A few days before Altman’s dismissal, several OpenAI researchers sent a letter to the board of directors warning that they had discovered a powerful artificial intelligence technology that could threaten humanity. The letter, which has never been revealed, and the “AI technology” mentioned in its contents, may have been one of the catalysts that led to Altman’s dismissal, but the details behind it are still not clear enough. At this point, we have to admire Elon Musk’s candor, “If you’re scared to fire the CEO, you should tell us why. 200 years have passed, and biologists haven’t created life with a body yet, but computer experts have created intelligence without a body. But our fear of “them” that are “like us” but not us remains unchanged.
In this farce, some have even linked Altman to Steve Jobs, who was fired from his own Apple company at the age of 30. What needs to be clarified here is that the 30-year-old Jobs really lacked some maturity and sophistication in management, and at the time he gave people the impression that he was “stubborn, headstrong, and temperamental. And after many years when Jobs with 10 million dollars to buy Pixar, his management style and temperament has changed a lot: in the management style has become relaxed, in the control of the right to become the slightest bit of the fight, these changes make the return of Jobes to play a greater value. And these two points are exactly 38-year-old Altman lack of. Of course, after this battle, Altman did not experience Job’s years of stings, sudden dismissal, and then quickly returned, whether Altman can have Job’s reflection and change, it is worth further observation.
Photo / Internet
Though the world is difficult, there is hope for the future.
As we enter December, it is often a time when we look back on the past year and look forward to the future. This is the last issue of Sameway to be published in 2023, and I won’t see you again in my column until January 19th of next year, so let me also reflect on the past and suggest some directions for the future.
Where is the World Going?
Some of you may have hoped at the beginning of the year that the Russian-Ukrainian war would come to an end, but the reality today is that the Russian-Ukrainian war is a stalemate and there is no way out. There is also the Israel-Hamas confrontation, which is dividing the world. Not long ago, the leaders of China and the United States met at the APEC summit in San Francisco, but they did not reach any substantive reconciliation in their relationship, only that each side made its bottom line clear to the other, and the competition still continues. After Biden’s meeting with Xi Jinping, China’s rivalry with other countries in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait continues, and the world seems to be getting darker and darker.
Late last year, many people were excited by the breakthroughs in artificial intelligence development. But the last two weeks have been a dizzying tussle between the board of Open AI and its founder Sam Altman, but also a belief that AI is bound to have a huge impact on human society in the future. So this tug-of-war is just a prelude to what is expected to be not just a battle over the direction of corporate development, but also an agenda for global leaders who can’t afford not to be concerned about the direction of human society.
In Australia, we are also feeling the pressure of the economic downturn on many of us and others. Although Australia is still a “lucky country”, the government cannot ignore the fact that the vulnerables are experiencing difficulties in getting enough to eat. High housing prices have increased the wealth of those who own a home, but at the same time it has brought high rents and homelessness to those who do not. The NSW government has just launched a consultation on redrawing housing zones in the hope that it will significantly reduce housing prices and solve the housing problem. Whether it will be effective is not yet known, but it shows that political leaders are aware of the seriousness of the problem.
The federal government’s drastic cuts to state infrastructure funding signal that Australians will be facing tight times ahead. For the first time, Prime Minister Albanese’s approval rating in a policy poll is negative, indicating that Australians are losing confidence in the government. If the government fails to reverse the disappointment next year, I am afraid the Labor Party will be under great pressure in the 2025 election.
Concerns of Chinese Australians
In the Chinese community, we are seeing a slight easing of the relationship between Australia and China. The main reason for this is that China, in the midst of its economic difficulties, is temporarily letting go of its wolf diplomacy, and is looking forward to renewed economic cooperation with the West, in order to change China’s predicament. Australia, on the other hand, hopes to separate economic cooperation from international geopolitics. Whether this will be successful or not is not up to Australia, but depends on China’s acceptance. I believe the situation will become clearer in the coming year. Most immigrants from China hope that next year they will have a clearer picture of how the relationship between the two countries is developing, and perhaps be able to plan again for their role in Australian society.
The number of immigrants from Hong Kong is expected to continue to grow, but the biggest challenge for them will be to accept that they will have to let go of Hong Kong and start living in Australia. Immigrants from Taiwan will be watching the results of the general election in January next year to see if there will be a change of political parties and changes in the relationship between China and Taiwan. The recent trial of Mr. Sunny Duong, a Vietnamese-Cambodian leader, who was prosecuted under the Foreign Intervention Act, is expected to make Chinese Australians rethink their identity as Australian nationals, their role and their relationship with China.
Another case that has attracted attention in 2020 is the refusal of business migrant Mr. Liu Huifeng’s application for permanent residence, because Liu had set up an organisation with social groups through WeChat for more than 50,000 Chinese immigrants to help each other, and was refused a permanent residency visa because he was involved in receiving subsidies from the Chinese government, and recently, the negative assessment of Liu by the ASIO has been rejected. This incident is a great revelation of how Chinese prospective immigrants should live in Australia. Application for permanent residency in Australia is not only determined by the conditions of the migrant visa, but also by the applicant’s character, which is constructed by his or her attitude and recognition of the Australian society and system, and of course, the relationship with the Chinese government may also be considered as a condition.
Migration is not just a refugee
As migrants living in Australia, it is understandable that we find our minds changing. Before we immigrate, most of our considerations, activities and decisions are tied to the community we live in. However, when we immigrate, it is a new beginning. In the beginning, we may still have some ideas about living in our place of origin, but as time goes by, life here becomes a situation we experience every day, and our thinking will change along with it. Some investment immigrants from mainland China may have good vision and experience in doing business, but it is not easy for them to follow the Chinese way of doing things in Australia. Those who are more positive will go to re-learn and adjust their methods, but there are also those who are not satisfied with what they have here, and do not appreciate the advantages of a different society compared to the original one.
Over the past few years, I have come across new immigrants from Hong Kong, and many of them display the mentality that they are refugees. They have come to live in Australia because of Hong Kong’s difficulties in 2019, thinking that they are leaving behind a beautiful past that they have lost. They don’t realize that migrating can be a positive decision, a chance to create a better and different future for us. Hong Kong friends who are willing to commit to Australia have chosen to emigrate not because they want to run away, but because they want to work hard to find out what’s better here, to forget about the past and work hard for what’s in front of them.
I myself responded to the call to come from Hong Kong to Melbourne to serve the Chinese churches, and in doing so, I opened a new chapter in multicultural Australia. Of course not everything in Australia is better than in Hong Kong. In fact, if we had stayed in Hong Kong, there would have been more opportunities for us. However, living in Australia, you will realize that life is indeed different from Hong Kong, and appreciating these differences is the greatest blessing that every immigrant, no matter where you come from, can receive.
Multiculturalism is an opportunity
The recently released Scanlon Social Cohesion Report 2023 mentions the reasons why the author is optimistic about the future of the Australian community in spite of the economic challenges it faces, including Australians’ love of their neighbou and their commitment to their communities, their recognition of democracy, and their affirmation of and support for a multicultural society. These three points, especially the third, are worth thinking about. It is true that rich countries all over the world emphasize on people’s participation and acceptance in the community, and the democratic political system also provides a platform for the people to participate in public affairs. However, very few countries are able to absorb immigrants from all over the world to build a new society with equality and respect as Australia does. I believe this is where Australia excels over other countries.
Our multicultural society allows Australians to connect with the rest of the world. Australia is rich in local resources and has a small population, so there are many agricultural and mineral resources. Furthermore, Australia emphasizes education and has great potential for scientific research and technology export. By attracting immigrants from all over the world, Australia has the conditions to establish ties with many countries. Because of these conditions, many young people who grow up in Australia will spend some time living in other countries to build up a good working network, so that Australia has excellent conditions in the era of globalization.
Migrants from different parts of the world also serve as a bridge to build relationships. In May, I attended a meeting of a multicultural radio station, and an anchor from Kenya, knowing that my daughter had lived in Kenya, told me that she would be returning to Kenya for a period of time, and that she would be willing to assist me if I had any projects that involved cooperation between the two places. This happens all the time in Australia. No matter which country in the world you want to connect with, you can always find some connection points in Australia.
There is also the fact that the next generation who grows up in a multicultural society has a very international network, and they are able to accept the differences of other people, and it is easy for them to establish cooperative relationships. Many of my friends have children who have returned to Hong Kong to work, and their international outlook gives them a great advantage when working in Hong Kong.
Yes, first-time immigrants often miss the good things of the past, but as long as we are willing to invest in this society, no matter how difficult it is today, I believe we can still grasp the advantages of this society to create a better future for ourselves. I wish all of you, the readers, a more fruitful year in the coming year, and I wish you all a Merry Christmas! I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
Mr. Raymond Chow
Israeli-Hamas war impacts Australia’s multicultural society and politics
Since the beginning of October, the intensifying military conflict between Israel and Hamas has split international opinion between those who support Israel’s counter-attacks against Hamas terrorists, and those who cannot bear to see the innocent casualties caused by Israel’s counter-attacks in the Gaza Corridor.
Israeli Defense Minister Galant declared on Monday that Hamas “has lost control of the Gaza Strip” and that militants are “fleeing to the south”. At the same time, the Qassam Brigades, a Hamas militant group, said Hamas was prepared to release 70 women and children hostages it was holding in exchange for a five-day full ceasefire in Gaza. All of this has caused indelible trauma to the Australian diaspora.
“Spreading ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘Islamophobia’
Over the past few years, anti-Semitism has been on the rise around the world. In particular, there has been a noticeable rise in anti-Semitism during outbreaks of hostilities between Israel and neighboring countries or terrorist organizations.The past month has seen an upsurge in racist incidents against Australia’s Jewish and Muslim communities as the Israeli-Hamas conflict continues to escalate. After the Hamas attack early last month, when the Sydney Opera House was illuminated in the colors of the Israeli flag, video footage of a small group of people lighting flares and chanting “Death to the Jews” outside the Opera House was shocking.
According to the 2021 census, Victoria has the largest Jewish population in Australia. Violent clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups broke out on the streets of Melbourne on Friday night. Pro-Palestinian protesters met in Princes Park, while pro-Israeli protesters gathered on the other side of the road, with police positioned between the two groups of around 200 people each. Police had to use pepper spray as a result of the fighting between the two groups in the middle of Hawthorn Road.
The clash took place outside a synagogue and a Burgertory burger restaurant, which was damaged by fire that morning. The burger chain’s founder, Hirmin Tayer, said he had received threats and believed the fire was a hate crime after he was photographed at a pro-Palestinian rally chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Although police say they believe the fire was not religiously or politically motivated, they are still treating the fire as suspicious.
Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan immediately condemned the violence, saying that all forms of anti-Semitism and attacks on the Muslim community are unacceptable. Police in Victoria have increased their presence in the area where the clashes took place. Opposition leader John Pessuto has also spoken out, saying all Victorians should be able to pray freely and safely without fear of intimidation. Prime Minister Albanese said all Australians have a responsibility to maintain peace, harmony and respect, and that hatred and prejudice in any form will not be tolerated in Australia. The Chief Executive of the Victorian Minority Community Council, Mohammed El Rafihee, has encouraged Jewish and Palestinian Australians not to hide their identities and has supported the idea that only through cooperation between communities in these difficult times can the cohesion of the Victorian community be maintained without letting international events affect the state’s social cohesion. But the reality of the conflict was a slap in the face.
Social cohesion put to the test
For many years, both Labor and Coalition governments have been supporters of Israel. The former Prime Minister, Mr. Morrison, even recognized West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and considered relocating the embassy, but the current government has openly cancelled this policy. However, after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, Australia immediately condemned the attack, but refused to criticize Israel’s retaliatory attack and affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. When the General Assembly of the United Nations called on Israel to stop attacking the Palestinians, Australia abstained from voting, which was questioned by many Australians.
Until the Israeli attacks killed tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians and children, earlier this month, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, wrote an op-ed saying that Israel needs to heed the calls from its allies urging it to exercise restraint, or the conflict risks spreading beyond the Gaza Strip because the international community will not accept the continued deaths of civilians. In her article, Wong outlined the Albanese government’s position in the strongest terms yet, saying that “the status quo is a disappointment to everyone” and that the only option is to seek a “lasting peace” through a political process, with a two-state solution that allows Israel and Palestine to live side by side. And a lasting peace requires people to see the humanity in each other and demands that each side respect the right of others to exist. It is easy for politicians, academics, and international law experts to say that both Israel and Palestine have the right to exist within established and secure borders; this principle is at the heart of the two-state solution. But what does that principle mean for the countless civilians who are in the killing fields?
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that while many leaders have made solidarity visits to Israel, Albanese should not have done so. Despite the fact that former Australian Prime Minister Morrison and former British Prime Minister Johnson visited Israel together, Mr. Turnbull said it would be better for Albanese to focus on domestic issues, which is the duty of the Australian Prime Minister to promote the interests of the Australian people. After all, at this stage, the ruling Australian Labor Party is being attacked by the opposition, its approval ratings continue to fall, and the pressure within the Labor Party is mounting, with many calling for it to do more to condemn Israel’s retaliatory actions.
Australia is a multicultural and multireligious country, and people may have different and deeper views on issues related to the Middle East conflict, but political discourse must be handled with respect. The recent escalation of the Israeli-Hamas conflict has been traumatic for the Australian diaspora: people with relatives in Israel want to know if the hostages will be released, and they want to know how many people will die. The Jewish community has legitimate concerns about its safety in Australia, given the heightened tensions in the community and the resurgence of virulent anti-Semitism. The Palestinian community in Australia, at the heart of the Labor election, is also in a state of despair, given the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza and the soaring number of deaths and injuries every day.
People come to Australia because they want to live in a country that is peaceful, tolerant and respectful, and peace, tolerance and mutual respect are not just empty promises, they need to be carefully maintained by all members of the community. Authoritative studies have shown that Australia’s social cohesion has been declining since the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The just-released 2023 Scanlon Foundation’s Social Cohesion Report, a research project mapping the mood of the multicultural nation since 2007, shows that economic pressures and geo-political uncertainty have put Australia’s social cohesion at a ‘critical turning point’, with the number of Australians expressing a strong sense of national belonging and pride at a 17-year low. This is worrying.
Solving problems based on reality is the real deal
Many things involve the issue of scale, especially historical, cultural and social issues, for which there are almost no standard answers. In the case of the Palestine issue, we can start with the departure of the Jews from the land of Palestine during the Roman era, or we can analyze it from the Ottoman Turkish Empire and British colonialism. As for Zionism, it can be discussed from the long history of discrimination and unequal treatment of Jews in Europe, and also from the anti-Semitism of the German Nazis. As for the question of the sovereignty of the land of Palestine today, should we think of it in terms of British colonialism or the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947? From different historical starting points, there are naturally different conclusions about who should own this land.
To be more realistic, what is the role of the Israeli-Palestinian issue under the Cold War framework? Simple answers are never enough to satisfy the needs of different positions and scales of thinking, but the collision of different positions, different thinking and different values is a living reality. Australians come from more than 100 countries around the world, and they will have different perspectives on history. The question of where the government stands when making decisions about how to act in the present day is a major concern.
As a country of immigrants, Australia has naturally developed a multicultural community. It is not the first time that political parties have struggled to deal with multiculturalism, as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 20 years ago caused a stir within the Australian Labor Party. That year, pressure was brought to bear on two pro-Palestinian backbenchers to moderate their outbursts in parliamentary debates on the Middle East, given the risk of losing votes and donations from Jewish voters. Politicians may say nice things in front of the media about occupying the moral high ground, but in reality their behavior is closely related to their core interest – the vote.
The nation-state is the foundation of modern international relations, and the formation of core national values is an important symbol of national maturity and an important guarantee of national stability. However, Australia has always suffered from the influence of racism in the construction of nationalism. Not only did it implement the “White Australia Policy” to exclude people of color in its history, but after the implementation of the multicultural policy, although racism was officially ended, there were still many outbreaks of racial discrimination, which demonstrates that racism has not died out, but exists in a new and more insidious form. Australia’s multiculturalism policy pursues equal coexistence, but neglects interracial integration and fails to heal the cultural rift between mainstream groups and ethnic minorities, so it is not surprising that the country’s sense of identity and belonging is at a low point, and its continued construction is in trouble.
Albanese paints a rosy picture for Australians: we need to ensure that Australia remains a microcosm of our ideal world, that people of all faiths and backgrounds can live together in a multicultural society. There is no place for hatred, no place for anti-Semitism, no place for Islamophobia. However, what should the government do when disputes between people of different faiths and backgrounds arise due to different demands, escalating into conflicts and breeding hatred? Given the complexity of human nature and the fact that the government can foresee such a possibility, what kind of policy should be adopted to prevent conflicts beforehand, so that conflicts can be avoided as far as possible, and at the same time, there should be measures to cope with conflicts once they occur. This can definitely not be achieved by just saying a few nice words, but rather, it is necessary for the government to genuinely enter into the multicultural communities in its daily life, to put aside its arrogance, to understand them, and to listen to them, so that it can come up with a sustainable policy. It is necessary for the government to truly enter the multicultural community in every aspect of its daily life, put aside its arrogance, understand them and listen to them before it can come up with sustainable policies. It seems that the Australian government has a long road ahead of it.
NEMBC Mandarin News – 30 November 2023
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