War is a continuation of politics by other means. The German strategist Carl von Clausewitz, who wrote the book on military tactics, had it right when he came up with that line. And “trade” could be inserted to replace either “war” or “politics”.
Walking recently through Sydney’s inner-city suburbs, your correspondent received an encouraging insight that that trade war or not, trade between this country and China will continue, under the radar, by other means, using useful strategies that have served in other bleak times.
All the people spoken to -– through my friendly guide through suburbs where English is a foreign language and Cantonese, not Mandarin is the lingua franca -– believe that sooner or later the Party high-ups will realise that Australia is not for turning into a satellite CCP outlier, and that too many of its own citizens have interests here that will be endangered if push comes to shove.
“Why belt and road in Australia, no need.” suggests one Cantonese-speaking lady.
“They think Australia is for sale – not for sale!” she emphasises.
Interestingly, many of these speakers came from southern coastal cities, if not Hong Kong itself, men and women who brought their business smarts to Australia and kept their networks at home in good repair.
One elderly gentleman ‘now over 80’ still running business at his front counter, snorted, telling my guide in loud Cantonese that mainland Chinese mothers would pay ‘more and more’ for Australian milk powder, since they had lost utter faith in their own products. The official bans on beef, wine and barley would somehow manage to be circumvented, benefitting both Australian exporters and Chinese consumers, not least by the efforts of mainland officials themselves.
“Hong Kong people have had to deal with the British, then Japanese, then British again, and now the Chinese. We know hardship and trade is in our blood. But now it is ‘gai tung aap gong, chickens talking to ducks, Beijing doesn’t want to speak to Canberra because it may somehow lose status in dealing with foreign nations but it knows that trade must and will go on – this is a temporary thing.”
I do so hope he is right.
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