I grew up in Australia during the 1960s, a time when the country was plagued by a neurotic fear of being overtaken by a mysterious and menacing force known as the “yellow peril”.
China’s Chairman Mao was the boogeyman of the day, and as a schoolchild, I was taught to believe that he had sinister designs to invade and conquer our sun-kissed land of liberty, transforming it into a bleak, Maoist dystopia.
This manufactured mania reached a fever pitch in 1967 when Australia’s Prime Minister, Harold Holt, went for a swim in the ocean one bright Sunday afternoon and never returned. Despite an all-out search effort, no trace of Holt was ever found, and conspiracy theories began to abound.
One of the most persistent theories was that Holt had been a traitor all along, who had fled the country in swim trunks with the help of his Chinese handlers, who had picked him up off the Australian coast via a submarine. As a young and impressionable Australian, I was one of many who fell victim to the paranoia and fear that gripped the nation during this tumultuous time.
The frenzy that took hold of Australia during the “yellow peril” era was so powerful that many people believed nonsensical conspiracy theories and were convinced that a Chinese invasion was imminent. In reality, no invasion occurred, and Australia remains a largely free and sun-kissed nation.
I share this memory because a similar wave of irrational hysteria has now taken hold of the country I have called home for decades: Canada. Reporters, columnists, and politicians have eagerly contributed to this sense of déjà vu, fueled by a small group of anonymous “security officials” who occupy Canada’s poorly accountable and unreliable “intelligence infrastructure”.
The current boogeyman, China, is being accused of interfering in multiple Canadian elections, including at least two federal and one municipal election.
This has caused a flurry of outrage among columnists and politicians, who are implying that the sinister “yellow” threat has compromised the integrity of Canadian elections and influenced the voters’ choices.
However, a supposedly “senior” intelligence official, who seems to have cozy relationships with various reporters and news organizations, has admitted that China’s actions had no real impact on the outcome of those elections.