Australia Tibet Council

Enabling everyone in Australia to be part of change in Tibet

Countering China's Influence

Tibetans police Chinese cropChina is waging an unprecedented campaign to promote its interests in Australia and around the world. Extensive media reports over the past year have revealed the Chinese government’s increasing influence in Australia.

Nowhere in the western world has China been more successful in infiltrating a country’s political and educational systems. This is a growing threat to the Tibet movement.

- By making donations to Australia’s major political parties and individual politicians, the Chinese government has attempted to silence our political leaders from challenging its human rights record. As the oppression and human rights violations in Tibet have worsened year after year, the Australian government has not made a single public statement on Tibet publicly for the best part of the decade.

- By funding and supplying material for the many Chinese studies programs in our schools and universities, China has a free hand to shape what young Australians learn about its culture and history - and what is kept from them. Today there are 13 Confucius Institutes in universities and 35 Confucius Classrooms in schools across the country, funded and controlled by the Chinese government. These institutes are known for banning discussions on issues such as Tibet and Taiwan.

Our campaign is about ensuring that the Tibetan voice is not silenced in the face of growing censorship and propaganda by the Chinese government.

Read our report Australia's Silence on Tibet: How China is shaping our agenda

Here is a quick look at how China’s growing influence is undermining our movement.

- Even in multilateral forums at the UN, Australia has maintained its silence while other western powers have raised their concerns about China’s behaviour.
No Australian Prime Minister has met the Dalai Lama on his past five visits to our country. In sharp contrast, Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama in the White House four times during his time as the US President.

- By funding and supplying material for the many Chinese studies programs in our schools and universities, China has a free hand to shape what young Australians learn about its culture and history - and what is kept from them. Today there are 13 Confucius Institutes in universities and 35 Confucius Classrooms in schools across the country, funded and controlled by the Chinese government. These institutes are known for banning discussions on issues such as Tibet and Taiwan.

- Australian academics are increasingly reluctant to engage publicly on the Tibet issue, and universities hesitate to invite the Dalai Lama on their campus.

Together we can ensure our political leaders uphold our core values of free speech and concern for human rights, and protect Australia’s long-term interest, not the interest of the Chinese Communist Party.


Our report Australia’s Silence on Tibet: How China is shaping our agenda was launched at Parliament House in Canberra in September. We met with around 15 MPs from all parties on that day.

Since then, over 50 ATC supporters located in 36 electorates across Australia have joined our initiative to connect with their local MPs and discuss how China's growing influence is not only a threat to the Tibet movement, but also to our democracy.


Rudrani ToothWhen Australia Tibet Council asked me to step up and talk to my local MP, I was relieved. Talk! Just try and stop me!

Like most Aussies it worries me that China has increasing sway and leverage over our political process and universities.  I am deeply concerned that arguably one of the most spiritually advanced cultures on the planet is being silenced and stealthily eradicated under my watch.

At sixty odd years of age I have potentially another twenty to thirty years to do something and while it is tempting to roll my eyes, flick my greying hair, feel disempowered and say what's the point, I can't. Tibet matters. It matters spiritually, ecologically and morally.

For me it is a matter of principle and conscience. I want my five Aussie grandchildren to inhabit a world where nobody turns their eyes from human rights violations, where they understand that it takes just one voice, theirs, to make a world of difference.


reportATC launched its report Australia's Silence on Tibet: How China is shaping our agenda at Parlaiment House in September. The report looks at the impacts of China's growing influence in Australia on the Tibet movement and makes a number of recommendations to the Australian parlaiment, government and universities to ensure that the Tibetan voices are not silenced.

Brief summary:

- While China is far from winning over the international community on its policies in Tibet, in recent years it has been making rapid progress in numerous areas. Through a proactive foreign policy, utilising both economic leverage and soft power diplomacy, the Chinese government is making determined efforts to erode the support the Tibet movement has built up over many years. In Australia, China’s influence has infiltrated political and educational institutions, perhaps more than in any country in the western world. 

- As Chinese influence increases in Australia, explicit support from the Australian Government for Tibet has diminished. The Government’s silence on the human rights crisis in Tibet is notable, with not a single public statement on Tibet being issued for nearly a decade.

- As universities rely more heavily on fees from overseas students for funding, they have become a vulnerable target for China’s soft power offensive and have shown increasing reluctance to critically examine China’s policies in Tibet. China’s Confucius Institutes, hosted by 14 universities in Australia, prohibit discussions on certain topics, including Tibet. Self-censorship is common among academics whose careers depend on access to China for research or funding.

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