A Chinese-Canadian human- rights advocate has spoken out after the ABC cancelled her live television interview, citing concerns about her “affiliations”.
Anastasia Lin, who is in Australia to promote two new documentaries criticising the Chinese government over organ harvesting and foreign interference, was baffled when a producer from the ABC’s The World explained the reason given by managers for the interview’s last-minute axing on Wednesday night.
“I’ve never had a Western journalist say that to me: that’s a Chinese propaganda term,” she said, adding that the word “affiliation” had brought back memories of her childhood.
“That’s like the Chinese propaganda I used to hear when we were young.”
Ms Lin said she had spoken in parliaments and national press galleries of democracies around the world, and had never before had her credentials called into question.
The former beauty queen made headlines in 2015 when China refused her a visa to participate in the Miss World competition, and has used her platform to advocate for human rights.
She is due to give evidence in federal parliament today about China’s live-organ trade and last night addressed the NSW parliament on the Confucius Institute that operates in Australian universities and has been accused of pushing a Chinese propaganda agenda.
“The stuff I am talking about, it has already been widely publicised in the West,” Ms Lin said. “It needs to be spoken about.”
A federal parliamentary committee is examining whether Australia should extend its laws against organ trafficking to make it a crime for citizens to travel overseas for dubious transplants.
Human-rights activists dispute the Chinese government’s position that its organ donation program is consensual, and allege that political prisoners are being targeted for their organs.
Ms Lin also last night told the NSW state parliament that China had used the Confucius Institute’s education programs to extend its soft power in Canada, as detailed in the Canadian documentary In The Name Of Confucius. The film follows the story of Sonia Zhao, who defected to Canada after migrating there to take up a teaching position at McMaster University’s Confucius Institute in 2011.
An ABC spokeswoman said the interview line-up for The World was “subject to frequent change, for all manner of reasons”.
“In this case, we did not have enough time … to be able to properly address all the issues involved in this topic due to the need to cover breaking news on the protests and political changes in Jordan and accusations that Facebook allowed Huawei to access users’ data,” she said.
“The ABC only recently ran an in-depth exploration of China’s crackdown’s on religious freedoms … and directly addressing the issue of organ harvesting.”