A few years ago Clive Hamilton wrote a very strange article in The Guardian that lead to this editorial statement (emphasis added):
This article was amended soon after publication on 18 February 2014 to correct the headline, a misreported statistic and some loosely paraphrased anecdotes, the combined effect of which had been to overstate the evidence then available about the impact Chinese investment was having on Sydney’s rising residential real estate prices.
The editor’s note said in part: “… the causes of fluctuations in housing prices are several and varied. Foreign buyers, and among them Chinese investors, may be a greater or lesser cause from time to time. Guardian Australia has concluded that, on the evidence presented, it was wrong to imply through the original headline that wealthy Chinese buyers are disproportionately a factor compared to any other national or ethnic group. The author stands by his opinion, as he is entitled to. Guardian Australia believes it must correct the evidence base underpinning that opinion and label it less emphatically in order to give readers assistance in weighing it and to avoid any inference of racism.”
Then a few weeks ago there was this article in The Australian:
For several years the Chinese party-state has been pursuing a co-ordinated program to acquire from abroad advanced military and industrial technology, and to do so by fair means or foul. It now emerges that Australian universities inadvertently are helping to give China the technological leadership it craves.
The Australian Research Council is funnelling Australian taxpayer funds into research with applications to China’s advanced weapons capacity through its linkage program. The program aims to encourage national and international research collaborations between university researchers and partners in industry or other research centres, in this case with Chinese military scientists.
A long conspiracy theory about how Australian government funding of ethnic Chinese Australian academics was promoting Chinese government interests. Nasty stuff.
Australian publisher Allen & Unwin has ditched a book on Chinese Communist Party influence in Australian politics and academia, citing fear of legal action from the Chinese government or its proxies.
The publisher’s chief executive, Robert Gorman, said last week that it would abandon publication of a completed manuscript by Clive Hamilton, a professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University, called Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State.
Let alone being sued for defamation – a whole bunch of people were named in the Australian article – I suspect a book like this could very easily fall foul of s18c.
“I’m not aware of any other instance in Australian history where a foreign power has stopped publication of a book that criticises it,” Dr Hamilton said.
Spycatcher – but then the case was won in court. It appears the publishers of Hamilton’s book are less confident.