There are times when one starts to assume that Bullshit, for lack of a better word, is so manifestly redolent of the Australian media world, that one forgets it is the purview of the media across the world. This week we have an absolute pearler of a reminder from one of Asia’s pre-eminent media organisations……
The South China Morning Post is a paper I have long had a lot of time for. Most weeks it has a number of genuinely good reads, and it is always insightful on how China sees and reacts to the rest of the world. But this week it has laid a solid turd on Australian-Chinese relations, and the implications of the by-election in Bennelong this weekend.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull helped create the anti-China paranoia gripping Canberra. Now, as a backwater ballot in Bennelong provides a litmus test for Sino-Australian relations, it’s coming back to haunt him
16 DEC 2017
The SCMP piece posits that the electorate of Bennelong is backwater, and that may be the case when seen from Hong Kong, but for anyone in Sydney, its lower North Shore, meaning that if it is backwater, then every last other location in Australia is too. Maybe thats what they mean, a little bit of condescension towards Australia from Hong Kong probably plays well in Beijing – and one suspects they arent looking to engage minds from Australia anyway.
It is an unlikely setting for a pivotal moment in the rise of the “Asian Century”. Indeed, until recently even the most prescient of political observers in Washington or Beijing might have struggled to place it on a map.
It is an unlikely setting for a pivotal moment in the rise of the “Asian Century” but it is a far more mundane setting for anyone looking for some sort of Australian social and electoral response to the ever more obvious Chinese influence in Australian political affairs. It is after all the seat of former Prime Minister John Winston Howard – the man who first set about selling off Australia’s economic assets to China, and under whose Prime Ministership Australia first started laundering ever larger volumes of the proceeds of Chinese corruption through its immigration programme. If it beats the bat of the political observers in Beijing, that may say more about their prescience, than about its location. Any half-baked Australian political observer in Washington – and they certainly do exist – will know it for sure.
Yet it is in this small Australian electoral division on the outskirts of New South Wales that, according to some of the political world’s more fevered imaginations, a great battle is occurring, one that could not only decide the future of Australia’s coalition government – but inform Sino-Australian relations and the shifting balance of power between East and West for years to come.
Oh dear. Maybe someone in Hong Kong will tonight frame ‘on the outskirts of New South Wales’ when the fact sinks in that the electorate has voted John Alexander back, largely in response to the ALP and the Australian Chinese media trying to portray the by-election as a vote on the racism (or not) of the current government. The backdrop to that attempted portrayal has been the action of a still serving ALP senator who has advised a Chinese national that he is being monitored by Australian security, when (inter alia) that senator has…..
- taken funds from that Chinese national,
- when that Chinese national has provided funds to a number of politicians from both mainstream sides of Australian politics, and
- mouth Chinese policy on China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea in contravention of both his party and national policy
It is also worth noting that proceeds from a number of organisations in China or with Chinese connections has started to become obvious in Australian politics and while leading to a number of questions within mainstream society, not getting much of a run in the media because these are mainly desperate for the bucks which come with being plugged into the Chinese funded side of any national discussion – a perfect example provided by the Pascoemeter in todays SMH with There’s five rules in the business of buying influence
Welcome to by-election day in Bennelong, population 106,000. Thrust into the limelight after their sitting member in the House of Representatives, the Liberal Party’s John Alexander, was found to be secretly British and forced to resign, the good people of Bennelong have found themselves not only potential parliamentary kingmakers down under but the centre of world attention.
I hope those guys in HK are aware that in Australian electoral divisions …..
The number of enrolled voters in each division cannot vary by more than 10% from the average across a state or territory, nor can the number of voters vary by more than 3.5% from the average projected enrolment three-and-a-half years into the future.
And Bennelong is within that ambit – although being a Liberal seat has fewer inhabitants than many seats.
It should also be worth noting that although it is plausible that tennis isn’t big in Hong Kong (or China more generally) due to land costs, you would have thought someone in the editorial process at the SCMP might have cottoned on to the fact that JA was a legendary Australian tennis player in his heyday, and a long term Davis Cup captain to boot.
Sure, his entrance to politics on the Liberal side has possibly sullied that memory for some, and it has been identified that he (along with more than a dozen other Australian politicians) has had some issues with section 44 of the Constitution – his dad was a Pom, and possibly passed the condition onto JA – and its prohibitions on allegiances to foreign nations – but you would have thought that a piece from what is supposed to be the quality side of the China press could have identified that the incumbent was an Australian sports hero turned to politics.
Here is Section 44 for the guys in Hong Kong who may not have quite got it.
Then again, given it is allegiances to foreign nations which has formed the basis of this imbroglio, you can understand the SCMP wanting to skirt by that – particularly if it was looking to curry some favour with the media monitors in Beijing, although we could be sure that the entire staff of the SCMP would be up in arms over the thought that this would be the case. So let’s just leave it at journalistic and editorial incompetence – which tends to fit with many other aspects of the piece.
Also fitting with incompetence when it comes to section 44 of Australia’s constitution is Malcolm’s government. It has managed to lose a deputy Prime Minister, garner a series of by-elections for itself, with a one seat majority, and generally underline the view of ordinary Australians that their politicians are the biggest set of self serving, amoral, rule breaking hypocrites on the planet. Thanks Malcolm.
On the surface, their choice appears merely a national concern. This weekend’s vote has been characterised by the opposition as a referendum on Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal government, and is nominally a choice between the now-former Briton (Alexander renounced his citizenship to stand once more) and the Labor party’s Kristina Keneally, a former premier of New South Wales. Should Keneally win, the Coalition government will lose its one-seat working majority – an upset on a scale similar to the last time Bennelong played political jack-in-the-box when John Howard in 2007 became only the second sitting Australian prime minister to lose his own seat.
But 10 years on from that vote – and 45 years since Australia and China established diplomatic ties – rising tensions in Canberra regarding perceived undue influence from Beijing have cast the latest Bennelong ballot not only as a litmus test for Sino-Australian relations but as a milestone in Beijing’s ascendance to superpowerdom.
It is for sure a national concern. The only reason it has ever lifted above that mediocre status is that an obviously China bribed politician has recently illuminated for the people of Australia that it has an entire political process which likes a few Yuan slipped into its coffers, and that the pro-China lobby in Australia (lets call it the mainstream media, the pro-immigration lobby, the pro selling real estate to corruption beneficiaries without any questions asked lobby, and a range of ex-politicians and academics on the China payroll – heres looking at you Andrew Robb and Bob Carr, and the ever reliable James Laurenceson) have sought to one up a Prime Minister who has spouted a standard western democratic line about influences from outside (how many nations would allow politicians to accept funding from foreign nationals? What happens to politicians in China who do this? [dare one ask?]) upon discovery one of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition was mouthing a pro-China line after receiving the readies. The rest of the para sort of makes sense although you would have to ask if the demise of John Howard after 33 years in the seat was more cherry on the top than jack in the box.
The only reason it is seen as any sort of litmus test is because more and more questions have been asked of late about China’s activities in the western world. From German politicians to Canadian real estate, and from donations to the US political system, and the allegiances of key officials in New Zealand, the possible presence within the English speaking (in particular) parts of the western world of people who might potentially use the freedoms traditional in these societies to further the interests of a nation (China) who considers some of those freedoms a threat, has generated increasing interest.
Given that China is a major player in global espionage, is currently partaking in a military build-up in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, ensures its own media is firmly gripped by the balls regarding comment, not to mention the presence in all of these nations of individuals who have migrated there from China with large sums of money – and deformed housing markets from Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland to Vancouver, Toronto and San Francisco – where the capital accumulation process has been somewhat opaque, and subsequently led to Chinese security operatives turning up in those nations to have a chat with those individuals as part of anti-corruption drives, you can sort of see where those questions are coming from.
And also worth thinking about – Does anyone else get the feeling someone here likes slipping the word ‘superpowerdom’ into the public domain? I hope they don’t chafe – it can be painful if they don’t use a lubricant.
To understand why, one must look at how the presence of a Beijing bogeymen has loomed ever larger in Australian political life for much of the past 12 months.
Recent controversies regarding Chinese influence down under include media claims that organisations linked to the Chinese Communist Party have been monitoring the 140,000 Chinese students in Australia and that Beijing has been trying to buy political influence through donations to political parties.
Well they aren’t just media claims are they? We have Chinese security types rocking up unannounced to talk ‘Operation Foxhunt’ types into going home to experience china’s legal system, and some of those Chinese student organisations run a pretty firm line on exhorting what the boys in Beijing like to see run. And that’s before we get to the number of politicians taking funds off Chinese nationals.
Here are a few…..
Which all brings us back to Sam, the man who has made China such a focus of the Bennelong by-election that the SCMP thought to write about it.
Chief among these is a scandal surrounding the Labor politician Sam Dastyari who was forced to step down from the front bench last year when it was revealed a Chinese donor had paid a travel bill for him. Media later reported he had spoken in support of China on the South China Sea territorial dispute – contrary to his party’s policy – after a Chinese donor threatened to withhold a A$400,000 (HK$2.5 million) donation.
The scandal surrounding Dastyari reached fever pitch this week – forcing him to resign from politics – when a leaked phone call revealed he had warned a Chinese counterpart his calls might be recorded by the Australian intelligence agency. It was also revealed he had tried to encourage the party’s deputy leader not to meet a Chinese pro-democracy activist opposed to Beijing’s rule in Hong Kong in 2015.
Dastyari’s case has acted as a lightning rod for Western concerns over growing Chinese influence. On Wednesday, a congressional commission in Washington chaired by former Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio seized on the Dastyari case to highlight the “threats” posed by Beijing to Western democracies. Rubio even took the opportunity to compare and contrast China’s tactics of cultivating influential political and academic figures with Russia’s alleged attempts to influence the US election through social media.
Notice how they mention the travel bill paid for Dastayari without mentioning that a fellow by the name of Huang Xiangmo has shelled out an awful lot of cash to an awful lot of politicians (including Sam). And we can assume he has being doing a tad more than discouraging politicians from meeting with the Dalai Llama, or toning down references to Falun Gong
It has also turned the issue of Chinese influence into a political minefield through which Australia’s politicians must tread with the utmost of care – and Turnbull may be about to find that he has made a costly misstep.
The prime minister, who has promised tougher laws against “foreign interference” and tighter restrictions on political donations in moves widely seen as targeting China, raised eyebrows last Saturday when he used a news conference to quote Mao Zedong in declaring that Australians would “stand up” to the growing Chinese influence on politics. “Modern China was founded in 1949 with these words, Zhong guo ren min zhan qi lai – the Chinese people have stood up,” said Turnbull, who is fluent in Mandarin. “It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride. And so we say, ao da li ya ren min zhan qi lai – the Australian people stand up.”
Well we can add Chinese influence to a load of other issues through which Australian politicians need to tread with care – mainly because Australian politicians (of all persuasions) specialise in not discussing or passing comment on a range of issue which concern Australians – including debt, house prices, what their children can aspire to when they grow up, why there are lots of foreign students getting really good secondary school marks (and getting access to Australian university places because of), and why Australia is importing so many aged foreign people to give them free medical care courtesy of an ever diminishing number of Australians paying PAYE taxes, as part of its population Ponzi policy. Sure, none of that is specifically the fault of anyone from China, or Chinese migrants per se, but they are all phenomena in which Chinese nationals play a part (although we could also acknowledge the recent Indian government trend to link trade ties to temporary Australian visas and access to Australian jobs) and it all comes under the general heading of Australian politicians needing to tiptoe carefully around the entire policy of population Ponzi, which both sides of Australian politics have have held Australians hostage to over the last ten to fifteen years. There may also have been a question of why the Australian Prime Minister was out there talking Chinese to Australians when we can be quite sure that President Xi would die in a ditch before he uttered a word of English in public – it’s all in the look.
Those words may yet come back to haunt him. This week, an anonymous open letter addressed to all Australian-Chinese urged Bennelong’s Chinese community to abandon the Coalition and support Keneally in the by-election.
Well as one types it appears it hasn’t come back to haunt Malcolm at all. In fact, it may be that the Chinese letter (of which there has been wide coverage in the Australian press) and the general tenor of comment in the Australian Chinese language media – which has a great track record in toeing the Beijing line (courtesy of the same types of funding and suasions the average Australian suspects a number of Australian politicians have waded into) which appears to have finally stuck in the gullet of enough Australians to start asking why it would be the Chinese state and media (which are universally seen as joined at the hip – making it even more regrettable that the otherwise proud traditions of the SCMP have devolved to appear with its pants down and bending over to support) feel they should have the main call on.
Given close to 20 per cent of Bennelong voters were born in mainland China, that should give Turnbull something to think about, even if this weekend’s result does not reflect the outcome of one online poll this week that predicted Keneally could get 66 per cent of the vote.
“It is the first time in decades where a single electorate dominated by Chinese voters can have a direct impact on who should govern Australia in the future,” the open letter read. “It means the ballots of Chinese voters in these areas may directly [bring] down Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.”
The letter, written in Chinese and shared widely on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, also accuses the Turnbull government of being “against China, against Asian migrants, against Chinese international students in broad daylight and under the table”. It cites Australia’s perceived hostility to Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea and its failure to stand up to anti-immigration sentiment and defend Australian-Chinese citizens.
A number of Australian suspicions about the Chinese understanding of the concept of democracy appear about here. 20% wouldn’t get you a look in in any seat in Australian parliament, even if they were all kowtowing to the Beijing line. However at this point it is only fair to acknowledge that a number of Chinese Australians probably aren’t kowtowing, and would appear to have reservations about the nation they have come to adopting behaviours and approaches redolent of the nation they have left – it being on the road to ‘superpowerdom’ (I’ll bet they were whinnying when they wrote that) and all. And that isn’t a bad observation. If you think that a uniform squirrel gripped press and unaccountable officials is the first step on the road to endless winter smog alerts then there is a case for asking why bother migrating in the first place.
But the general idea these journalistic frauds have highlighted here simply underlines the reservations a lot of average Australians have about the Chinese presence in Australia. There are loads of Greeks, Italians, Poms, Kiwis, Germans, Vietnamese, Lebanese and on and on and on in Australia – but nobody in their right mind thinks for a second that these ethnic groups vote en masse the same way in an Australian election. That sort of mindset is right up the alley of the Middle Kingdom, and it does raise the question of to what sort of length the Middle Kingdom might go to cultivate it – which feeds back into observations about Chinese nationals slipping wads of cash into Australian politicians and putting ex-politicians and academics on the payroll of advancing China’s interests in Australia (and could we again take this moment to identify Andrew Robb, Bob Carr and James Laurenceson as key identities on the China payroll in Australia).
Given all this, it’s perhaps not surprising that when diplomats from China and Australia gathered this week at Beijing’s Diaoyutai Guest House to mark their 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations no Australian ministers were present. After all, the vote in Bennelong and the scandal surrounding Dastyari are merely the crescendo in a year’s worth of strained relations.
OK, so how many 45th anniversaries should our reps be attending? Given the propensity for Australian politicians to gouge the bejeesus out of Australian taxpayers, there is a case for arguing that attending 45th anniversaries of anything could be held over until the 50th for any event where the taxpayer is stumping up for flights and first class accommodation.
Back in March this year, Canberra abruptly pulled its plans to ratify an extradition treaty with China after it provoked widespread unease in parliament. Just three months later, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation openly warned the major political parties against taking donations from two billionaires because of their links with the Chinese Communist Party. In October, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop issued a blunt warning to Chinese students affiliated with the Communist Party, characterising them as a threat to freedom of speech in Australian universities.
Well the unease in parliament reflect some concerns that judicial process in China may not be like judicial process in Australia, and the recent experiences of Mr Stern Hu (formerly of Rio Tinto and an Australian citizen) and a range of employees earlier this year from Crown Casino who have found that their rights under Chinese law were radically different, and lesser, than their rights under Australian law. The ASIO warning possibly struck the Chinese as unusual seeing as any Chinese suspected of taking funds from foreign nationals would possibly be wondering about their chances in a re-education camp or before a firing squad. A lot of Australians would have added that ASIO could (and should) have mentioned that absolutely nobody in China (average annual salary in 2017 circa $1500 USD) accumulates the sort of money required to migrate to Australia, and buy Australian real estate, without having got on spectacularly well with a range of government officials in China, who are ranked as amongst the most corrupt in the world, and are part of a state which has an obvious disinclination to comply with any rules developed outside its aegis in terms of international behaviours – meaning that they walk, talk, and smell like stooges of a one party kleptocratic state with a substandard human rights records and feeble respect for other nations.
But even against this background, Turnbull’s reaction to the Dastyari case – he condemned the senator for “selling out Australia for a few thousand dollars” – seems to mark a raising of the stakes. Beijing responded with a diplomatic warning, saying Turnbull’s remarks had “poisoned” Sino-Australian relations while the government-affiliated People’s Daily accused Australia of “hysterical paranoia … full of racial undertones”.
That may be how it looks from Hong Kong, but it’s about the first thing Malcolm Turnbull has got right for the Australian public since coming to the Lodge (the Australian Prime Ministerial residence for anyone reading from Hong Kong). Dastayari mouthed the China line on the South China Sea in contravention of his party and the national position on China’s annexation and militarisation of the atolls claimed by a number of nations. And it appears he did it cheap – particularly if you note Andrew Robb got a seat on the board of a Chinese State Owned Enterprise (which has purchased the port of Darwin) bathing him in 800k per annum, only after selling Australia out as key negotiator for the China – Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Here is Andrew signing off on the China – Australia FTA just prior to taking up his 800k per annum gig with the Chinese government owned company.
…and Malcolm being the tosser he usually is with Presidents Xi and Trump at APEC
Cross-party concern over Chinese investment in Australia has long bubbled under the surface, not least because of the growing role of China in Australia’s economy – 25 per cent of Australia’s manufactured imports now come from China. But it is only relatively recently that meetings between Australian officials and Chinese businessmen have made such waves. Turnbull himself was spotted last month having dinner with a Chinese businessman just four days after one of the businessman’s firms declared a A$40,000 donation to Turnbull’s Liberal party. Yet Turnbull felt safe enough to bat away criticism by saying he didn’t recall any detailed discussion with the donor.
The cross party concern reflects wider societal concern that Australian politicians have sold out Australians with jobs in manufacturing (in particular) and Australian housing aspirants (more generally) in order to strip the Australian economy back to that of commodity supplier and tourist destination for China, while embedding national dependence on China, when the only tangible gains from this are for the politicians themselves – and who wouldn’t love Andrew Robb’s $800k per annum for doing sweet FA? – or for very small sections of Australian society.
On from that it sort of speaks volumes for Malcolm’s heightened electoral awareness antennae that he is able to pick up on that – despite it being an opposition figure who is the latest to trip over the issue in the public domain. And the Australian public already knows he is a bullshitter when it comes to dinner partners and cheques.
But this time, “the antipathy towards China is due to a real concern regarding China’s growing power and influence in the Asia-Pacific geopolitical context”, according to Dr Michael Clarke, associate professor at the National Security College, Australian National University. The controversy over Dastyari was that much greater because of the perception that there had been direct Chinese influence over a member of parliament, he said, and this raised questions over Australian sovereignty and the integrity of the political process. Even so, Clarke said, the concern had been “partly confected for domestic political gain by all major political parties”.
The professor is right. The issue has been confected, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue there when it is quite obvious so many Australian politicians (from both sides of mainstream politics) have taken funds from Chinese state connected identities.
Some sceptics point out the rise in anti-China posturing by politicians in various parties comes amid a corresponding rise in speculation over Turnbull’s leadership and growing public concerns over domestic issues such as soaring house prices and energy bills.
As the federal parliament enters its final sitting week of the year, a senior Coalition leader, the deputy premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, has openly called on Turnbull to resign as “a Christmas gift” to all Australians.
Meanwhile, three opinion polls released in December put the Labor party ahead of the Coalition.
Well there is quite rightful speculation about Malcolm because there is for sure the widespread perception that he is leading possibly the worst government in Australian history and has absolutely no feel whatsoever for the life experience of ordinary Australians. That coupled with his persistent championing of corporate tax cuts, ever more expensive houses, and ever more pathetic Australian economic performance in terms of wages and debt, banking behaviours and general economic malaise outside the iron ore and gas export sectors (and even then you’d have to identify he has cocked up energy per se) has a number of punters assuming that the only reason he remains in the PMs chair is because only someone with a death wish would care for the gig.
“Australia has every right to put in place whatever legal framework it feels necessary to stem untoward foreign influence. But certainly the rhetoric against China seems designed for domestic political purposes,” said Professor James Laurenceson, the deputy director of Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney.
“When PM Turnbull introduced the new laws in parliament, he said it was akin to 1949 when Mao Zedong said the Chinese people had ‘stood up’. This is an extraordinary choice of words given that in China they followed 100 years of foreign occupation and humiliation, and were spoken only a decade after hundreds of thousands of Chinese had been slaughtered on home soil by the Japanese.”
Always nice to have Laurenceson pop up in these pieces. You never have to read what he says. You can just assume as soon as you read it that it is pro-China. It probably never occurred to James for a moment that Turnbull, in voicing those very words, encapsulated the very thoughts Australians have about being stripped back to being commodity supplier and tourist destination for Chinese in coming years.
Malcolm and Xi in happier times
Nevertheless, at least for some voters, Turnbull’s tack to criticising China appears to be working.
“It is the Turnbull way of saying ‘I am taking control of the party’s leadership, I am being strong with China, I am being strong with all my members to ensure no one is crossing the line, to show the time to take action is now’. And voters are happy with that,” said Max, a Turnbull supporter in Sydney. “[The swing voters are] the ones who are really being targeted, because they only need to show a one or two percentage swing, in some cases, to change the government.”
Thanks for that Max….
PAST AND FUTURE
The central issue thrown up by the Daystari affair, some experts argue, is how Australia should situate itself diplomatically in a changing world. Should it strengthen ties with a rising superpower or loosen them with a declining one? That question seems to have moved Australia from its “great complacency” of the early 21st century to an era of profound uncertainty. And before it can answer that question, it may first need to address its past. According to Robert Macklin, a historian and the author of Dragon & Kangaroo, distrust of China has its roots in Australia’s history of British colonial rule,
“The colonists regarded the Chinese people as inferior,” Macklin said. “They invented the White Australia policy that stood in place for 70 years and prevented Australians from enjoying a friendly and productive relationship with our regional neighbours.
“Then came the Communist takeover of China in 1949, at a time when Australia had been rescued by America from the ‘Asian hordes’ of Japan in the second world war and was thus unable to even recognise the People’s Republic of China.”
How should Australia position itself is indeed a fine question. There would be a diversity of opinions on the subject but we can be 100% sure that most Australians would agree that it should not position itself to be the feeble stamping ground of an aggressively militant neo imperial power with which it has has no cultural ties whatsoever. The problem for many (or most?) Australian politicians is that they have sold out the economic diversity of Australia which would underpin plausible viability of that desirable policy position to (it often seems) purely their own benefit, and keep talking about upsides to Australians of Free Trade Agreements (in particular) Ponzi population growth, and house price rises – all of which have a China angle – that a lot of Australians simply never see.
Malcolm being lectured by some Chinese guy while walking Sydney Harbour……
Macklin said after the 1972 recognition, there was a period of perhaps 35 years in which Sino-Australian ties strengthened. However, more recently, as China became wealthier, America had increasingly seen Beijing as a competitor. Australia’s intelligence relationship with America required it to see China as an adversary as well.
That sense of competition has been spurred by opinion polls, including by the Lowy Institute, that found Australians are split between favouring China or the US as their most important partner.
Well their wallets may vote one way – if we accept the Australian political mainstream and its desire to euthanize Australia’s exposed economic sectors – but history, shared language, shared traditions and media (pathetic though it may be), bicameral legislatures and a degree of reciprocity (even if that often is over egged) in the ability to buy real estate, other economic assets, etc, may count for something more.
“As a result, an influence campaign has been stepped up pushing in the opposite direction,” Laurenceson said, adding that the US government had been promoting the view this year that America was Australia’s most important economic partner, not China.
So is this a discussion about stripping back Australia’s economy to simply supplying our economic bounty commodities to China when it could be about developing economic diversity to sustain economic partners around the developed world, using endeavour and value adding?
Clarke cited Australia’s most recent foreign policy white paper as another example of uncertainty. The document warns: “Navigating the decade ahead will be hard because, as China’s power grows, our region is changing in ways without precedent in Australia’s modern history.”
Yet the document falls short of offering any strategy on how to undertake this difficult “navigation”.
“Australia’s posture seems to be more wishful thinking than a realistic appraisal of its current strategic environment and, in particular, downplays the damage done by the Trump administration with respect to US leadership and commitment to the Asia-Pacific,” Clarke said. “The implications of this have not been adequately addressed or elucidated in domestic political debates.”
The implications may not have been addressed in internal political debates and the latest white paper may be a tad light on for navigation aids, but is this a basis for simply allowing China state interests to have us sing their way unquestioningly?
Is the reason pro-China interests treat Australians as sheep because this is the way they are introduced to us?
Regarding present controversies, Laurenceson predicts a direct, but limited, economic impact. “If Australia is perceived to be unfriendly, then Chinese students may go to university elsewhere, Chinese tourists might go to more welcoming destinations.”
More problematic than any of the recent scandals in themselves were the attitudes they reflected; the suggestion that Australia may have gone beyond a “difficult navigation” into the realms of aimless diplomatic drifting. “There’s nothing wrong with Australia clearly raising objections when China acts in ways that are contrary to its national interest,” Laurenceson said. “But it’s also important for Australia to look for opportunities to productively engage with China and unfortunately, there’s less evidence of this happening.”
Thanks James. There is also the case that if Chinese tourists go elsewhere then Australian tourists may have to diversify their clientele base – and would that necessarily be a bad thing? And as a matter of interest, at what point does anyone say, there isn’t much in a relationship to justify it continuing? And what would be the markers on the road to arriving at that sort of decision? The possibility we are being treated with contempt while being flooded with dollars (or Yuan) for a select few? Does China look for opportunities to productively engage with us, or does it look for weaknesses in us to exploit?
Sam swallowing bile before voicing his pro China statements on the South China Sea…..
The sort of atoll where the Chinese just rock up and build forts in the South China Sea and stockpile weapons and expect the rest of the world to just suck it up
Malcolm tossing some self respect into his demeanour….
As the final ballots are tallied this weekend – an official declaration could take up to three weeks – the good people of Bennelong may find their voting methods have once again put them on the map.
Well in this case the result for the people of Bennelong was certainly quick. They didn’t like JA as much as they used to, but they did like him enough to slip him back in.
The truly weird thing is that ‘analysis’ such as this tripe made it into the pages of the SCMP, which generally covers Australia with reasonable nuance. As such we can only assume that whatever it is they read in Beijing, where the real China decisions are made, and where they like their media commentary uniform and on song, might be seriously whacky. We’ll just have to assume that on this occasion the SCMP has worn some shite for the ‘team’ and that it will stand them in good stead next time they criticise Chinese involvement in the Hong Kong legislative or judicial process, or the impact of Chinese mainland money on living costs in Hong Kong…..
…maybe they might even work out where the vote they are talking about is taking place next time.