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LTN: Chinese Diplomat Threatened Australian Media to Get It to Cancel a Program

Taiwan Liberty Times reported that Kirsty Thomson, the producer of 60 Minutes on Australian Channel 9 received a phone call from Cao Saixian, the head of the Media Affairs Department at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra. Cao claimed that 60 minutes illegally filmed footage and threatened that it could not air one segment that covered China’s expansion in the South Pacific Ocean. “Take this down and take it to your leaders! … You will listen! There must be no more misconduct in the future!” Cao yelled over the phone. Thomson countered that the footage was taken in the public region using a drone and stated that the program would still be aired on June 18 and 19 as planned. According to the article, 60 Minutes has produced a number of programs that covered China’s “debt trap diplomacy” in the Pacific region and how it was expanding its influence through offering assistance in the areas of infrastructure and agriculture in countries such as Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu. The program focused mainly on China’s plans in Vanuatu, including attempts to build a military base in Vanuatu. The program previously revealed that China’s satellite monitoring ship, disguised as a fishing boat, tried to approach the Australian Adelaide warship in the port of Suva in Fiji. The article reported that the way that Cai approached the mainstream English media was done in a very unusual way. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs must have given the direction in order to warn other media not to offend China.

Source: Taiwan Liberty Times, June 22, 2018