According to a piece of news by ABC in August 2020, Maree Ma who was appointed to the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations advisory board in February 2020, did not tell the foundation that she received financial backing by the US government. Meanwhile, as the general manager of Vision China Times, an anti-China newspaper was disclosed to be deeply hostile to China and closely linked with the evil cult Falun Gong. She was soon questioned by other members from the foundation whether she was fit for the job after the release of the news. The National Foundation for Australia-China Relations is meant to strengthen engagement between the two countries. In 2019 when China-Australia trade relations soured for the cooling of the bilateral relationship in general terms, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced a five-year $44m funding upgrade for the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations with view to reversing the deteriorating bilateral relationship. All this demonstrates both the Australian government and the foundation are trying to weather the challenging time of China-Australia relations. So, a question arises: why was Maree Ma, who has had deep ties with Falun Gong and run a newspaper to defame China, able to be appointed to the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations, an organization committed to promoting the development of the bilateral relations?
1. Lies and More Lies
When Maree Ma and Vision China times she runs was investigated by ABC, her spokesman and the newspaper denied their links with the US government and the Falun Gong. Yet, the ABC investigation indicates that both Maree Ma and her Vision China times are telling lies. According to the ABC news, Decode China, an anti-China website run by Maree Ma was established under a funding arrangement by the US State Department. The Ma family are all Falun Gong practitioners. Maree Ma’s father, once serving as the spokes person for Falun Gong in New York, started a Falun Gong school called “Minghui School” after he moved to Australia. Vision Times in fact is an Australian branch of Epoch Times, run by Falun Gong. Falun Gong’s founder Li Hongzhi once referred to Vision Times “our media”.
A scan of Vision China Times will tell its similarity with Epoch Times in terms of coverage of fake news about China, anti-science messages, supporting reports for Trump and other US rightist politicians, US political conspiracy theories, and attacks on the Biden administration. For example, the outlet reported that infectors can recover from coronavirus by reciting the sacred words without the need of receiving medical treatment. It said the Covid-19 vaccine is “the most scourges” and called for people against the vaccine. It carried that a doomsday is coming for an asteroid collision with Earth this October. The website also collaborates with pro-Trump rightist conspiracy theorists in spreading fake’s news and US political conspiracy theories and attacking foreign policies by the Biden administration. For example, a report entitled “US supreme court says Trump wins” enjoyed most visits and the news also aimed to denounce the Biden administration’s Afghanistan policy as failure and disaster. A case can be made that Vision China Times is an Australian version of Epoch Times.
2. Why Maree Ma Will Bring Damage to Australia?
An extremely anti-China Maree Ma, without ever being subjected to background checks was appointed to the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations and has been on the organization for more than a year. How could people expect the foundation to promote the development of China-Australia relations if it accepts advice from Maree Ma, who together with the media she runs continues to conduct anti-China activities? Good political atmosphere is the foundation for the bilateral relationship. If Maree Ma continues to do such dirty business, the foundation will only receive advice of harming the bilateral relations rather than positive advice. If China-Australia relations continues to deteriorate, trade between the two countries is surely to be affected. Australia export to China will be particularly affected and Australian exporters and people will finally suffer. A source of damage is just Maree Ma, who has hidden his anti-China background and entered the foundation advisory board. She tries to effect and even control the foundation by taking her biased anti-China approach, in an attempt to hinder the development of China-Australia relations and harm the interests of the Australian people.
Furthermore, Maree Ma and the media she runs harm not only China-Australia relations and the Australia people. Her Vision China Times incited people not to be vaccinated but to recite the absurd anti-science scared words. Were the Australia public to trust her, could Australia achieve its goal of putting the Covid-19 epidemic under control and having its people vaccinated? Were this goal to fail, would Australian communities be unlocked and its economy be reopened as early as possible? Maree Ma has also interfered with American politics via her Vision China Times. Her Vision China Times transmit and quote large amounts of news on conspiracy theories carried by QAnon, such as massive fraud in the US general election and the prevailing of Trump in the general election. It is foreseeable that Maree Ma who has helped to make social disruption and political confrontation in the United States by spreading conspiracy theories on US politics is likely do the same thing in Australia. Are Australians willing to see social disruption and political confrontation caused by her hostile and fake propaganda? That would be the fatal damage she and her media bring to Australian society and politics.
If the Australian government really guards against the influence on its foreign policies exerted by external forces, it should subject Maree Ma to security background investigations, because Maree Ma became a member of the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations by hiding its financial links with the US government. If her political stance and anti-China activities contradict the tenet of the foundation, she should be evicted. Such a move will matter more than the financial upgrading by the Australian government for the foundation. If the Australian government really worried about the attacks from external forces on Australia’s domestic affairs, it should put Maree Ma under scrutiny because she has been inciting the general public not vaccinate and spreading political conspiracy theories. The Australian government should order the complete and permanent closure of all the medial platforms she runs if these platforms are proven to have hindered Australia’s Covid-19 prevention and control and incited Australia’s rightist extremists.