‘China sympathisers’: a new Red Scare stalks Australian businesses

‘China sympathisers’: a new Red Scare stalks Australian businesses

  • As anti-China rhetoric heats up down under, expressing support for one of the region’s most important trade relationships has become a risky business
  • Right-wing manipulation of social media is fanning deeply ingrained racial prejudices and anti-communist sentiment, experts say

What Helen Sawczak doesn’t know about doing business with China isn’t worth knowing.

Having run the Australia China Business Council (ACBC) for more than four years, the formidable yet approachable Sawczak has an encyclopedic knowledge of a relationship now worth A$235 billion (US$169 billion) in two-way trade. In short, she is the perfect person to act as a bridge between two of the Asia-Pacific’s most important trading partners.

Unfortunately, she has resigned.While she says the decision is personal and it is simply time to move on, her departure coincides with a marked deterioration in China-Australia ties. In her early days as CEO, the relationship had been hitting new heights with the signing of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in late 2015.