China blasts Gladys Liu ‘witch hunt’
CHINA'S state media has praised Scott Morrison's defence of Liberal MP Gladys Liu while accusing Australian media of a "21st century witch hunt".
It also issued a thinly-veiled warning to the Prime Minister not to be America's pawn on China relations but to keep "Australia's national interests in mind while savouring foie gras at the White House" for his state dinner with US President Donald Trump on Friday.
The Global Times opinion piece - which calls Ms Liu's interview with Sky News host Andrew Bolt last week a "television lynching" - comes amid new revelations in The Herald Sun today that the rookie Liberal MP promised on Chinese social media that she would write references for foreign students who volunteered on her campaign at this year's federal election.
"The target of this ferocious attack was not Gladys Liu herself, but China," Australian Studies Center professor Chen Hong writes in his editorial.
"By insinuating Liu was a Chinese agent who had infiltrated Australia's federal political arena, Cold War combatants have sounded the alarm once again on China as an evil menace to Australia's political sovereignty and national independence."
The "fear and smear campaign" against China was a "21st century witch hunt" with the "unmistakeable aftertaste of McCarthyism," he writes.
"They ceaselessly split hairs in search of the slightest traces and nuances of the imaginary 'Red Peril'.
"Linkage with any organisation or individual with Chinese connections is misinterpreted as a threat to Australia's interest and has created a Sinophobia among the public and inside political circles."
The Global Times article praised Prime Minister Morrison's "clear reason and judgment" in defending Ms Liu over links to groups with ties to the Chinese government.
"Recognisably, Morrison's justification of Liu is not without partisan motive, but for the 1.2 million Chinese Australians who have been subject to unjust suspicion and bigotry, such remarks are significant," it said.
"In contrast to his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull's reckless spoiling of the Australia-China relations, clear reason and judgment have prevailed for Morrison."
The article questions whether Canberra will "fall for" the US's "heinous trap" and serve as Washington's "legionnaire" in the Asia Pacific, while saying Mr Morrison should keep "Australia's national interests in mind" when he heads to the White House.
It comes as a High Court challenge over Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Ms Liu's eligibility to sit in parliament has its first directions hearing today.