Chinese Dirty Tricks: Mack Horton’s fear as family target of hate campaign

Chinese Dirty Tricks: Mack Horton’s fear as family target of hate campaign, by Luke Slattery.

When Australian swimmer Mack Horton refused to mount the winner­’s podium with Chinese superstar Sun Yang at the world swimming championships in South Korea last year, the story led the news in more than 6000 media outlets globally. …

[Horton’s] silen­t snub and his more verbal protest at the Rio Olympics three years earlier … At Rio, days befor­e winning the 400m freestyle, Horton famously labelled Sun, who had recently served a three-month doping suspension, a drug cheat. …

Horton was proved right:

The world knows about Horton’s rivalry with Sun, who in February received an eight-year ban for irregularities in a doping test, and the Australian’s very public stand on clean sport.

But look what the Chinese did against Horton for speaking against them:

  • The family home in suburban Melbourne was broken into amid threats against their youngest son, Chad, who was preparing for his Year 12 exams.
  • At the Rio Games, Brazilian commandos shadowed Mack [and his parents] Andrew­ and Cheryl.
  • The computer system at Horton’s firm was hacked.
  • The family was targeted with death threats and vile abuse online.
  • For nearly four years the family has lived in a virtual state of siege. Supporters of Sun, most believed to be on student visas, regularly bang pots and pans late at night in the alley behind the back fence and abuse the family from the driveway.
  • Plants have been poisoned, dog shit hurled over the fence.
  • A man speaking broken English calls Andrew Horton regularly to threaten his daughter (he has no daughter).
  • Last year, after South Korea, Cheryl was cleaning the family pool when she discovered “a bucket load” of broken glass at the bottom.

The family’s ordeal is believed to be well-organised and part of a systematic pattern of harassment and intimidation directed at perceived critics of China. “This is not an amateur operation,” says a nationa­l security analyst who decline­s to be named. “The Hortons’ story is very disturbing … It says something about the reach of foreign powers within Australia.” …

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials … [told Horton that his] snub in South Korea was a lead item in 6000 media outlets globally. Consular officials informed him 24 hours after [Horton’s] comments in Rio that they’d received nine million messages and “none of them were pleasant”.

Why hasn’t this been big news? Are our media too afraid? Whose side are they on?

hat-tip Stephen Neil