Flat White

The China threat and the art of war

15 January 2021

5:00 AM

15 January 2021

5:00 AM

The war being conducted by the Chinese Communist Party against the democratic, free world, particularly Australia has predictable and understandable strategies. Under the Xi Jinping dictatorship, clear principles of war are on display drawn from the Chinese warrior philosopher Sun Tzu laid down some 2000 years ago in The Art of War. 

Perhaps the most relevant war technique being applied against Australia is to wiwithout fighting. This Sun Tzu strategy seeks to ‘use the enemy to defeat the enemy.’ That is, the object of the Xi dictatorship is for Australians to conclude that we cannot win against the might of China. Consequently, we must kowtow to Xi’s dictates. The CCP has and is having success in this regard.   

Xi’s strategic success is demonstrated in a recently released book by Geoff Raby Australia’s ambassador to China 2007-11. In China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order Raby claims that the US is a declining Asian powerChina is in the ascendancy. Further that the USA is aunreliable partner unlikely to come to Australia’s defence if needed.  And because Australia is economically dependent on China we have to accept a new global order dictated by China’s CCP. 

Raby seems to include influential Australian’s such  Hugh WhitePaul Keating, Bob Carr and billionaires Kerry Stokes and Andrew Forrest and their media cheerleaders as adherence to this new world order ‘reality.’ If true the CCPs is succeedingWitness the current Premiers of Victoria and Western Australia who seem smitten with Raby’s China future.   

According to Raby, central to this reality  is that Australia must accept that China is “more comfortable with tyranny than democracy, but on which Australia’s economic wellbeing and security in the region rest…”   

Such an idea is scaryHow does ‘tyranny’ equate to Australia’s ‘security.’ Are we to accept the CCP’s genocide in Xinjiang and Tibet as the new world order? Does the turning of Hong Kong into a freedom suppression, CCP internment camp, not assault Australian values? Are we to accept an (inevitable?) CCP invasion of democratic, free Taiwan with a predictable massacre as okay? Are Australia’s ‘values’ entirely economic?  Surely we are better than that?  

If tyranny is the new global order that must be accepted, then the tyranny done to others today can be done to us tomorrow.  

But there is Australian push back. And it’s infuriating the Xi dictatorship. 

Clive Hamilton is totally opposite to Raby. Hamilton’s 2018 book  Silent Invasion is a deep dive expose of the CCP’s Art of War strategy in Australia. Hamilton details how the CCP have infiltrated major Australian political parties, seduced academia through big bucks, won ingratiating support from Australian billionaires and instilled fear in the Chinese-Australian population. The list of CCP activities directed through China’s Australian diplomatic presence is huge.  

The CCPs aim is to achieve exactly what Raby says Australia should do, accept the inevitability of the CCP world order. That is, to get us to defeat ourselves. 

Since Silent Invasion, however, there’s been an obvious and expanding shift at the Australian government level. The banning of Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei from Australia’s 5G network was the kickoff. Progressively the government is asserting oversight of Australian universities contracts with China. The buyout of Australian businesses by Chinese companies is selectively being blocked. It’s as if Hamilton’s identified lists of CCP activities is being addressed. We can’t yet see if or how the Chinese-Australian community is being protected but it needs to be. 

The CCP response to the push back has been one of open fury. This is where, however, Xi’s dictatorship is breaking the laws of the Art of War where deception is all important. Xi has counter-attacked with open economic war banning Australian imports of coal, food and other products. Presumably, student bans will follow once international travel restarts.  

Xi’s is probably thinking that by making Australian businesses and universities suffer that the CCP’s support base in Australia will rise up and denounce the Australian government. That’s happening to an extent. There’s plenty of commentary blaming the government for trashing the relationship with China. Xi must believe that ultimately Australians will put economic self-interest above Australian values of freedom. 

But this CCP counter-strategy is crass and unsophisticated. It’s too obvious. It smacks of CCP reaction born from frustration. It exposes a failure to apply Sun Tzu’s dictum of ‘know your enemy.’  Xi’s ‘enemy’ in Australia is our deeply embedded disdain for authoritarianism. Bully us and we tell you to bugger off.

There’s a very practical side to this. Australia’s history since colonial days is of a global trading nation. We’re in business with the world. Like any sensible business it’s dangerous to be dependent on any one market. We learnt that in 1973 when Britain deserted us and joined the EU. We were forced to adapt and find new markets.  We did and are stronger for it.  

Raby says we must accept the tyranny of the CCP new global order because we are economically dependent on China. The counter argument is that if Xi’s CCP tyrannical dictatorship cannot respect our Australian values of democracy and freedom, then ‘bugger off.’ We’ll adapt and trade with nations that do respect our values. We’ll be stronger for this.  

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