A protester from a right-wing minor political group, the Party of Freedom, wears an Asian conical hat and fake beard at a demonstration outside the Chinese Consulate in Camperdown, Sydney. Protesters demonstrated against an alleged Chinese 'Real Estate Invasion of Australia' as well as 'Cultural Genocide' due to an increased number of Chinese-born new Australians. Photo: AFP Forum/Richard Ashen

A Global Times columnist’s revival of an insult coined by Lee Kwan Yew has aroused the twitterati to a round of ridicule and derision.

“Further decoupling with China will not send China back to poverty, but will only make former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s famous statement more likely to come true: that if Australia doesn’t open up its economy and reduce unemployment, it risks becoming the ‘poor white trash of Asia,'” Oz-watcher Yu Lei wrote in the Beijing-leaning publication.

“There are few signs that Australia intends to stop provoking China, or to attempt to ease escalating tensions,” said Yu, a chief research fellow at the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries, Liaocheng University, and a research fellow at the Australian Studies Center at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

“Instead, its insistence on continuing along the United States’ lose-lose path toward decoupling will undoubtedly cause huge damage to its already severely injured economy.

“In its latest move, legislation endorsed by the Morrison government will reportedly put the state of Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative agreement at great risk,” Yu continued. “Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ‘not aimed at China’ clarification seems more like a ‘nothing up my sleeve’ approach.

“After a noticeable downturn in China-Australia relations since 2017, bilateral ties have deteriorated even further this year. The Australian side has made several unprovoked attacks in normal economic exchanges with China, and even against Chinese students.

“The momentum of trade liberalization, investment facilitation, economic complementarity and normalization of cultural exchanges has come to an abrupt end.”

Yu rejected as groundless any worries that China seeks hegemony over Australia: “The reason that China-Australia ties have experienced rapid development in the past few decades has not been because China intended to ‘control Australia,’ but because there are too many people that wish to do business with each other on both sides,” he argued.

“Similarly, the rapid increase in bilateral investments is not because China wanted to ‘occupy’ Australia, but because many businesspeople see vast potential for cooperation.”

Twitterati pounce

Twitter users are having a grand time with his remarks.

“I must say @globaltimesnews has been entertaining throughout this lockdown,” tweeted @Kasinadhuni.

“No matter how poor Australia will be, at least they have no dish limit for group meal & the ridiculous ‘N -1’ rule,” tweeted @IloveHK3333 – referring to President Xi Jinping’s attempt to deal with China food shortages by exhorting people to order less in restaurants.

“Hope Xi Jingping asks his sister to give up citizenship of Australia, now that poverty is coming there…LOL,” @abhisdagr8 tweeted.

“It’s rich coming from the people who are offended by the phrase Sick man of Asia,” chortled @S38583395.

Former US Defense Department official Van Jackson, an informal advisor to Senator Kamala Harris during her US presidential campaign, is now a New Zealand-based researcher whose Twitter handle is @WonkVJ. He retweeted a link to Yu’s article with this comment:

“China following Sun Tzu’s strategy of self-encirclement and bridge-burning.”