Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Chinese spies are everywhere

so the present media headlines should come as no surprise to anyone. That the Chinese should attempt to infiltrate the Downunder parliament by putting a member of their choosing in does not surprise me in the least. Should it?
I have been reminded by my years at various universities. I have attended three in my time and worked in more. At all of them there were students who were on "government scholarships". The students came from countries like China, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Egypt and more. Almost all of them were there for a dual purpose. They had been sent to study but they had also been sent to spy on their fellow students. 
Everyone knew it. Nobody commented on it. You knew simply because some students were always cautious about what they said and did, especially around students on "government scholarships". It added immeasurably to the stress some students were under. It still does. That your parents are paying for you to be there is sufficient stress for some students but most of them are also under extreme pressure to do very well indeed. The pressure comes not only from parents and family but from others in their country of origin. Some of them have come here because,  under their extremely competitive systems, their marks were not  considered quite good enough. They may work hard, very hard but they still struggle. Some of them need part-time jobs in order to eat. That adds another layer of pressure.
I tutored a lot of students under that sort of stress. They came to me on both a group and a one to one basis.
    "I am in trouble," one of the girls told me once, "S.... saw me talking to a boy." 
She was close to tears. The boy in question was not a Muslim and she was. That they had been standing in the quad with people right around them and the subject matter of their conversation had been strictly academic made no difference.
The would-be candidate for a seat in the Downunder parliament failed and he has since committed suicide.There is no room for failure in the game he was playing. 
It is easier now than ever to spy on such vulnerable students. All of them have mobile phones. They are expected to keep them switched on at all times.
Of course it may not happen to everyone but it does happen to people  whose governments are "concerned" about them for one reason or another. 
I was tolerated by the spies - just. I tutored some of them too. I made no secret of the fact I knew why they were there. One of them has recently been incarcerated in his own country - for spying.

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