Flat White

Hey, Beijing. Min yi shi wei tian

30 April 2020

2:51 PM

30 April 2020

2:51 PM

Did we really need to get into a diplomatic spat with China while battling the restrictions placed on us by coronavirus?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s suggestion of an investigation into the origin of the pandemic poked a hornet’s nest of aggrieved facesaving and unfortunate remarks from the Chinese side about “wine and vinegar” and “chewing gum”.

More telling was the media ambush of Health Minister Greg Hunt at his own press conference by a Chinese diplomat who took the microphone unannounced and — judging by the Minister’s clear surprise — unexpected.

So what has so riled our chief trading partner to make them break diplomatic conventions and protocols so uncharacteristically?


There’s an old saying that a Mandarin-speaking friend in Singapore sent me.

It is xian fa zhi ren, he who strikes first gains control; an equivalent to our own the best defence is offence — and that indeed seems to be the strategy behind the events of the last few days.

Chinese diplomats in Australia must be anxiously reading their orders from Beijing. Any further political actions against China from and in the West must be stamped on decisively, so the CCP thinks, and another well-worn saying goes ji feng er shi, use it as a immediately as a weapon while it’s still sharp.

But perhaps the most appropriate message Australia could retaliate with is min yi shi wei tian, what is most important to people is food.

And we know the Chinese — especially all those buyers of Australian baby food and other similar, untainted goods — understand that.

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