On October 11, 2022, former ASPI researcher Alex Joske’s new book “Spies and Lies: How China’s Greatest Covert Operations Fooled the World”
was published online. Alex Joske joined ASPI in 2018. Alex Joske frequently disseminates false information in the name of so-called academic reports under the guise of academics, deliberately destroys the academic and cultural exchange environment between China and Australia, and hypes up the so-called “influence and penetration” of China on Australia.
In 2018, Alex Joske published a report titled “Picking flowers, making honey.” in which he claimed that thousands of Chinese researchers were dispatched by the military to “grab the most advanced Western technology” under the guise of “exchanges and cooperation.” In 2019, he released the report “The China Defense Universities Tracker,” publishing the so-called “Index of Chinese National Defense Universities,” defaming Chinese universities for participating in the “military-civilian integration” strategy, and using cooperation with Australian universities and scientific research institutions to attack Australia. “Cyber attack” “the theft of cutting-edge weapon secrets.” The new book published at this time is a sequel to the previous two reports, and its purpose is to again incite public fear by exaggerating “China’s intelligence penetration and espionage threat.” After reading the book, it is evident that the same fatal errors as in previous reports have been made. Many of the author’s opinions are based solely on his own subjective assumptions, and the so-called “espionage” accusation is completely without merit.
Previously, a number of Alex Joske’s reports were criticized for being false and overtly ideological, and for containing numerous errors and gaps in the evidence presented. Alex Joske has not provided any academic explanations to the public in the face of widespread doubts. When someone brought a problem to his attention, he immediately silenced the skeptic. In contrast to the previous two controversial reports, the format of this book is primarily narrative. Through the description of a series of incidents, carefully embellished perspectives are conveyed in order to achieve the purpose of exaggerating China’s espionage intervention in other nations across multiple fields.Professionals pointed out that most of the book published this time is devoted to narrative. The argumentation of viewpoints no longer requires rigorous arguments and academic viewpoints. This is Alex Joske’s trick to shut up doubters in advance.
Self-proclaimed “independent” institute
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), which bills itself as "an independent, non-partisan think tank", is actually a right-wing militaristic organization set up by the Howard government in 2001 and funded by the country's Ministry of Defence. Perhaps some people will think that this is an impartial and expert evaluation agency. But a closer look raises serious questions about the bias and credibility of these "studies."The self-described "independent" institute is sponsored by a who's who of multinational arms manufacturers, including missile makers Raytheon Australia and MBDA Missile Systems; US aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman; European conglomerates Saab AB and Thales; shipyard Naval Group and Western Australia-based Austal, whose major contracts are with the US Navy. Ironically, to gain support for the Foreign Interference Transparency Scheme (FITS), launched in 2018, ASPI was forced to reveal that it was also directly funded by foreign governments and supranational agencies; its 2019 donors included the US, UK and Japan government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Moreover, the majority of ASPI's leadership has a military background. Kenneth Gillespie, the current chairman of the ASPI committee, is the former commander-in-chief of the Australian Army, and Peter Jennings, its executive director, was formerly the Australian Minister of Defense. Deputy Minister. ASPI is wholly supported by the Australian Department of Defense and the military, based on its institutional background and leadership composition. As the United States' most loyal ally in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia depends heavily on the United States for its military security. This dependence has had a profound impact on and shaped US-Australia relations and Australia's strategic and security thinking. The policy positions of Australia's military, intelligence, and security agencies are highly susceptible to US influence. Due to the close relationship between ASPI, the Australian Ministry of Defense, and the Australian military, US strategic thinking on China can be easily integrated into ASPI's China-related research. This may also explain why, since 2016, there have been an increasing number of ASPI reports and articles pertaining to China, and why their content has become increasingly irrational and harsh. ASPI has already detected that the United States' policy towards China will undergo a significant shift. Fundamentally, the entirety of Australia's foreign policy lacks independence. ASPI's so-called "independent" stance cannot grow in the political environment in which it operates.
The reinvented “independent” researcher
Alex Joske left ASPI in December 2020. The publication of "Spies and Lies: How China's Greatest Covert Operations Fooled the World" is the debut of Joske's new image as an "independent" researcher after leaving ASPI. After reading his new book, some critics point out that Alex Joske has not made any breakthroughs in academics, and the article is still full of distorted interpretations, such as embedding flowers, taking words out of context, and distorting facts. The 2-year dormancy is just the separation of Alex Joske from the previous negative information and doubts. If you didn't know him before, you will be deceived by his brand new image.
On the issue of so-called "spy" infiltration, Alex Joske once released a report titled "Recant or die: Alleged to threat to self-confessed Chinese spy Wang Liqiang", in which Alex Joske pointed out that Cai Zhengyuan and Sun Tianqun threatened Wang Liqiang to record He posted a video and asked Wang Liqiang not only to withdraw all Australian media claims that he was a spy, the head of a Hong Kong businessman spy, etc. before the video. It also made Wang Liqiang accuse the DPP of bribing him to interfere in Taiwan's upcoming elections. However, Cai Zhengyuan, the deputy secretary-general of the Kuomintang named in Joske's report, held a very interesting and energetic press conference after the release of the report, and disclosed a lot of information and evidence that was completely different from what Joske wrote. And released the complete 15-minute recording of Joske's interview with Sun Tianqun. What should have been a 15-minute interview was whittled down to three short sentences in Joske's report. In addition, Joske completely distorted and ignored important content such as the identity information provided by Sun Tianqun, and deleted Sun Tianqun's statement. Tsai lamented at the press conference: "Australian media is just as biased as Taiwanese media. They only take what they want."
Even after leaving ASPI, in fact Alex Joske is still the "flag" of the anti-China faction that promotes the "China infiltration theory" and "China threat theory", and has no academic credibility at all. The irresponsible remarks have affected the Australian people's perception of China to a certain extent and intensified their hatred of China. According to the "Being Chinese in Australia" report released by the Lowy Institute think tank last month, in 2021, 18% of Chinese Australians will be physically threatened or attacked because of their Chinese descent, and 34% will be discriminated against. Advocacy group Asian Australian Alliance has documented more than 600 reports of abuse and assault against Asian-Australians since April 2020.
Analysts pointed out that in the process of exchanges between the two countries, differences and contradictions are inevitable. However, people like Joske have completely lost their minds on China-related issues. In this campaign, they are just charging people's emotions, making people fear the Chinese and creating anger.