Are we at last getting real about China? Are we ceasing to pretend that China is potentially a normal nation with which we can keep trading to our mutual benefit, while waiting for its supposed emerging middle class to soften its communist aggressiveness? It would be reassuring if we are.
It is also reassuring to know that in Canberra there is one prophet who can interpret China’s ever more bad-tempered tantrums for what they are. Mike Pezzullo, head of the Home Affairs Department, has warned that China’s ‘drums of war are beating’ and that Australia should be prepared to send its ‘warriors’ to fight. (These are the same warriors that the liberal media in its cowardly way likes to vilify, and that the progressives who get their way in all areas of social policy these days are trying to purge of the masculinity that is their essential fighting quality.)
You can tell that Pezzullo hit home by the Chinese reaction. Beijing’s ambassador in Canberra, Mr Cheng Jingye, spoke darkly of attempts to ‘incite confrontation’ and ‘hype up threat of war’ (sic), which, he added virtuously, ‘is extremely irresponsible’.
Blaming your intended enemy for wanting war is the oldest trick in the aggressors’ manual. Besides, it’s not as if Chinese aggression is anything new. China is an aggressor against the Uighurs, in its dark mutterings about Taiwan and the One China Policy, and still, after more than half a century, against Tibet – it shows how desperate the West has been to conciliate China that we have learned to turn a blind eye to China’s illegal occupation of that once sovereign nation. It doesn’t need much of an imaginative leap to see China turning on us.
With its vast armed forces – an army of more than two million to Australia’s 60,000 – China is already capable of over-running us; the fact that it hasn’t tried to is partly because we are not yet a priority and partly because we are useful as a ‘trading partner’ – despite Chinese economic sanctions against, for example, our wine, which has cost Australia millions of dollars. We are useful too as an educator of Chinese youth, though the ambassador ‘fears’ that Australia’s recently acquired habit of ‘stigmatising’ China and our ‘racial discrimination’ – he’s obviously been reading handouts from our respected Race Discrimination Commission – might give students second thoughts about whether to return here after the pandemic. Well boo hoo. If that happens the only losers will be our bloated leftist-infested universities.
It could also be that China is delaying going to war until its armed forces are vaster still, and can repel any American attempt to defend us. And of course we are helping to bankroll this Chinese military expansion with our continued purchase of everything China makes. We’ve destroyed our own manufacturing industry, but if China produces something, we’ll buy it. Look around your own home. How many objects are there that are not made in China?
Trade, behind the guise of reciprocal profit, is a perfect mask for aggressors to build up their resources. We’ve been here before. Japan at the end of the first world war was on our side, supposedly. As its industrial power expanded Japan became one of our best customers. How many trade delegations were there sailing to and from Japan in the 1920s and 1930s, all spouting platitudes about economic cooperation? We cooperated all right. We helped the Japanese, during their war of aggression against – ironically – China, get the iron that built their great steel fleets and air force and that, in the form of bombs and shells, later came back to us in the air raids on Darwin and to pulverise our troops in battle. Sir Robert Menzies, now revered in conservative circles as our greatest non-Labor prime minister, took years to live down his part in the iron sales when in 1938, as attorney-general in a government intent on appeasing Japan, he effectively forced the breaking of a union boycott against loading iron for export to Japan. He was dubbed ‘Pig Iron Bob’, and you could see this epithet scrawled on walls and railway bridges throughout the land – perhaps it’s still there in some neglected spot.
Lenin is remembered as saying that capitalists would sell the revolutionaries the rope with which the revolutionaries would hang them. China is a Marxist-Leninist state. Marxist-Leninists cannot by definition abandon their aim of destroying capitalism and imposing communism. Leopards and spots spring to mind. We are not selling China rope – the rope in your local hardware has actually come from China – but we are selling it the commodities it needs to increase its industrial power, and hence its military power and its capacity to export revolution. That’s bad enough. What is worse is that we are selling ourselves.
‘Australia rides on the sheep’s back,’ used to be a national slogan. The huge Chinese textile industry, that inundates the world with cheap wool-based products, also rides on the back of Australia’s sheep. So much so, that to guarantee the raw material at source, Chinese are buying up Australian sheep stations. The famous 2,348-hectare Mawollock property in Victoria is only the latest. The sale of our prime national assets to citizens of a potentially hostile foreign power ought to be unthinkable.
The Chinese ambassador described as ‘unreasonable and irrational’ the federal government’s decision to block ‘Mad Dan’ Andrews’ Belt and Road Initiative agreement with China. This is one of the most sensible things the Morrison government has done in a long time and another reassuring sign that we are waking up to Chinese intentions. It is precisely through this investment arm of Chinese foreign policy that Beijing effectively blackmails small countries – that can’t pay for infrastructure installed in their countries by Chinese contractors – into becoming client states of Beijing. Victoria is already that to some extent, since most of the hideous ‘wind farms’ which blight its landscape are Chinese-owned, as some are in other states.
Economic imperialism, which is what much trade amounts to, is the opening phase of China’s strategy to challenge America for dominance of Asia and the Pacific – and ultimately the world. President Trump understood that – does President Biden? One wonders. Given his mental lapses he may think China is still run by Chiang Kai-shek.
Australia will not be safe until China is economically and militarily contained. It will help achieve that goal if we reduce our trade with China, even if that means making the sacrifice of buying a more expensive product, locally made or imported from a country that is not a threat to us or, if necessary, going without.
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