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Australia is picking a fight with China

Written By: - Date published: 11:22 am, April 28th, 2021 - 53 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, International - Tags:

I am pleased that Nanaia Mahuta and the Government have distanced ourselves from joining in with five eyes attacks on China.  Because when you look at that aggressive rhetoric that is emanating from Australia you have to be worried.

Peter Dutton, aka potatohead, was reported as saying this:

The Australian defence minister, Peter Dutton, has said a conflict involving China over Taiwan cannot be discounted but he insists the government’s focus remains on having “good relations” with Beijing.

Dutton was on Sunday asked about the prospect of a “battle over Taiwan” following remarks from the former defence minister, Christopher Pyne, and the ex-prime minister, Tony Abbott, about China’s expansionist plans in the region.

“I don’t think it [conflict] should be discounted,” Dutton told ABC’s Insiders.

“China has been very clear about the reunification and that’s been a long-held objective of theirs. They have been very clear about that goal.

“People need to be realistic about the activity. There is militarisation of bases across the region. Obviously, there is a significant amount of activity and there is an animosity between Taiwan and China.”

Dutton said Australia wanted to continue being “a good neighbour in the region” that worked with its partners and allies. “Nobody wants to see conflict between China and Taiwan or anywhere else,” he said.

Then on Anzac day just to make sure China did not miss the attack Home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo gave a speech where he talked about the drums of war.  From the Guardian:

In his Anzac Day speech – titled The Longing for Peace, the Curse of War​​ – Pezzullo said that free nations “continue still to face [the] sorrowful challenge” of militaristic aggression and “tyranny’s threat to freedom”.

“In a world of perpetual tension and dread, the drums of war beat – sometimes faintly and distantly, and at other times more loudly and ever closer,” he said.

“We must search always for the chance for peace amidst the curse of war, until we are faced with the only prudent, if sorrowful, course – to send off, yet again, our warriors to fight the nation’s wars.”

Pezzullo noted the “sorrow of Europeans after the horror of the First World War” but said their “revulsion at the thought of another terrible bloodbath” had meant they “did not heed the drums of war which beat through the 1930s – until too late they once again took up arms against Nazism and Fascism”.

“Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war.”

Australia has been attacking China for a while.  Dutton previously questioned China on the origins of Covid and demanded greater transparency.  He has in the past accused China of conducting a series of cyber-attacks on Australian targets, stealing intellectual property and muzzling free speech.  And recently the Australian Government cancelled two belt and road agreements that the Victorian Government had made with the Chinese Government.

As I said in the beginning I am pleased that Nanaia Mahuta and the Government have distanced ourselves from joining in with five eyes attacks on China.  The more we distance ourselves from Australia’s dangerous over the top rhetoric the better.

53 comments on “Australia is picking a fight with China ”

  1. Cricklewood 1

    We'll end up having to pick a side at some point soon… things will come to a head in the South China sea and the inevitable economic crunch thats coming will make starting up the USA war machine an attractive proposition…

    • Morrissey 1.1

      We'll end up having to pick a side at some point soon… things will come to a head in the South China sea…

      They might if the U.S. and its vassal states keep provoking China. You seem quite keen on that happening. You support the aggressive rhetoric of the United States and its Australian vassal, do you?

      and the inevitable economic crunch thats coming will make starting up the USA war machine an attractive proposition…

      Could you tell us what makes "the USA war machine" such "an attractive proposition" for you?

  2. Enough is Enough 2

    Australia is definitley picking a fight. Just look at what Scomo is announcing today

    https://www.9news.com.au/national/multimillion-expansion-of-australian-military-training-bases-northern-territory/3e3137c5-25b4-408b-8d46-5ecf447f65ca

    That is at the same time that the Biden adminstration is pulling right out of the middle east to focus almost solely on the Indo China region. Expect the US miltary presence in Northern Territory to increase substantially.

    There is going to be incredible pressure put on New Zealand from Australia to pick a side.

  3. Pat 3

    You have to wonder what Scotty from marketing was thinking when he handed Defence to a loose canon like Dutton…mind you I guess he'd cause problems no matter what job he had and I doubt China will be taking his bluster seriously.

  4. gsays 4

    I have to echo the gratitude of who the foreign minister is and the party in power.

    The speech and it's contents was timely.

    The thought that Judith 'Crushed' Collins's mob having power, replete with former Chinese spy school alumni, sends shivers down my spine.

    • Stuart Munro 4.1

      It would certainly put them in an interesting position. But Jian Yang was apparently an English prof. – not so much a spy in conventional terms – just someone with the right security rating to be teaching pre-entry agents.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1.1

        It was his 'contacts' after he left for Australia and NZ that were interesting.

        he was originally tapped for further study in US, Down under was the backup

        https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-20/nz-mp-linked-to-chinese-spy-school-also-worked-for-dfat/9069602

        • Stuart Munro 4.1.1.1

          And had he entered the US public service he might well have been tapped for a bit of inside info. As it stands he wasn't up to much – might have left a thumb on the scales like Raymond Huo, but had relatively little opportunity, beyond perhaps introducing a few possible 'friends of China' to folk who might reinforce that perception. By the standards of the corruption that had become routine within National, he was so clean he squeaked. As Jack Vance notes, spies are often exemplary employees – they're not looking for the usual kinds of trouble.

      • Gabby 4.1.2

        Sir Anthony Blunt was apparently an art expert.

        • Anne 4.1.2.1

          He was indeed. He looked after the Queens pics (worth a bob or two too) for decades and was regarded as a close friend by the Queen.

  5. Tricledrown 5

    Stuart Munro you must be kidding just an English Professor. Spy school is Spy school once a spy always a spy.China is expanding its influence to all corners of the globe looking for weaknesses to exploit.

    Shipley ,Collins,Bridges all have ties to Chinese businesses soft touches.

    The new super power is on an upwards power grab with the biggest manufacturing capability and advanced technology beyond the US's which only manufactures 12% of the worlds silicone chips the US is falling further behind.

    The US is wasting 100's of billions on old manned technology and making very expensive long development UAV's.

    While China has a huge advantage in manufacturing and IT. China seems to be able to steal US intelligence at will.

    • Peter chch 5.1

      Really? Why then do Chinese rockets keep failing on or shortly after takeoff? Why do they NEED to steal military designs and copy them if they are so advanced?

      The Chinese Empire will not last the century out. Too many internal troubles. Nei Mongolia. Xinjiang. Xizang. Sichuan. China next war will be internal, and low tech like Afghanistan.

      Externally, China is surrounded by a hostile swag of countries, which it just keeps insulting by claiming they belong to China (latest one is Kazakhstan).
      The Chinese Communist rule is thankfully terminal.

    • Stuart Munro 5.2

      Meh – there are a lot of English teachers in Asia – even I was one.

      It's important to distinguish between the terrorists and the tealadies.

      Were Jian Yang some kind of latter day Svengali, National might not be quite the blighted wreck it has become.

      China seems to be able to steal US intelligence at will.

      That would be to do with the corporatization of education. US corporates have stifled local recruitment and become increasingly dependent on foreign techs for research – they may find that such folk will not automatically serve their geopolitical preferences.

  6. Adrian Thornton 6

    Thanks for this piece MS, I am also pleased that we have distanced ourselves from the disgusting racist, jingoist cold war rhetoric that is being emanated not just by Australia but also the USA and the UK against China, I hope that NZ will also distance this country from exactly the same the same sort dangerous of cold war attacks that are being leveled at Russia at this time.,,we need to play no part in both the USA and the UK's pro war desperate last gasp foreign policies that only have their interests at play.

  7. Ad 7

    This just makes me angry. If Australia is so keen to push a specific security threat then they need to put it up for debate at the UN Security Council like grownups. Stand up and put your facts.

    It is exceedingly unhelpful for the US to generate ad-hoc military groupings like this "Quad" when it has no Defence treaty signed up nor is it part of any other binding commitment. It's escalation out of nowhere that of course China will likely respond to.

    It's bullshit that is not part of ANZUS, or the Five Power Defence Arrangements, or even the old SEATO, or Five Eyes, and has nothing to do with CPTPP or CER or Pacific Forum or anything else impinging on Australasian interests. If someone died as a part of this militancy their relatives would be hard pressed to figure out what they died for. Always a good measure in the was-it-worth-it calculation.

    It's by no means perfect, but no New Zealand Prime Minister is going to want to exhaust the extent of diplomacy with a specific mandating resolution from the Security Council.

    We are way past talking in obscure metaphors about dragons and taniwhas and need very plain English text exchanges.

    • Patricia Bremner 7.1

      Ad, Dutton does not have the intelligence to see the danger, or the wit to care.

      Nania Mahuta does, and her metaphors are quietly sophisticated and the angry response from so-called allies shows what dickheads they are, and how they resent difference.

      "We can still smell the uranium on their breath"

      Baiting the Dragon is like playing with fire.

  8. Scud 8

    New Zealand, will have to pick a side sooner or later as there is no 3rd Option & why?

    Any war that involves Taiwan is going to involve NZ’s major Asian Trading partners & 3 Trading parters of the 5E’s. It’s also going to effect the SCS as well as China would try to deny or degrade access for Taiwan Allies to respond in a timely fashion as this the quickest sea route is via Singapore the hub. This will also effect NZ’s Trade to SEA & indirectly to NZ’s Nth’ern Asian Trading Partners because of the SCS access.

    There is “No 3rd Option” because NZ’s so-called Independent Foreign Policy by this Current Labour Government is all fluff, smoke & mirrors to give the NZ Public a warm fluffy feeling that everything is ok & there is no need to worry about. But….

    As it currently the so-called “3rd Option” isn’t going to work because of “NZ’s so-called Independent Foreign Policy” is not inSync with its current Trade Policy which is still in its trade at all costs & bugger NZ’s long term Consequences if goes tits up as adopted by the CR under John Key led Government. The current Defence Policy is out of sync with both NZ’s Foreign & Trade Policies which has always been the case especially Post Cold War which has left the NZ MoD/ NZDF without any proper direction including long term funding especially in the RNZAF & RNZN. Who would be tasked to Defend, Protect, Deny, Delay (Note these are Mission Verbs which are the foundation to how the NZ MoD /NZDF will plan, disseminate orders for the forthcoming operations.) NZ Sea Lanes Of Communications which are vital to sustain NZ’s Economy as it’s an Export led Economy. As it stands the NZDF has to few assets maintain NZ’s SLOC’s to Indo-Asia Region or the WC Seaboard of Nth America expect for the Trans Tasman Sea Routes & Sth Pacific Nations!

    The final Final component to why the “3 Option” won’t work is because there is No consensus within NZ’s parliament to adopt a truely independent Foreign, Trade & Defence Policy because cost, the CR has Chinese in their front & back pockets, the Labour Left Wing & NZ Greens don’t want to spend money on the NZ MoD/ NZDF to adequately to Protect Defend, Deny NZ’s Sea Lanes Of Communications with it all goes to shit, Trade & the MPI Sectors prefer to the easy option as they did post WW2 with UK & are current doing the same with China and we how it ended when the UK bugged off to the EEC (now the EU) in 1973.

    NZ is going to be in this shit sandwich weather it likes it or not, unless there is a major rethink in it Foreign, Trade, Defence Policies & find Consensus within the New Zealand Parliament which is highly unlike if it wants to avoid this shit sandwich and time running out folks. We will be at War with China within the later half of this decade or in first half of the next decade.

    • Ad 8.1

      The best option is to actively avoid armed conflict in the first place.

      We can't let a post-Trump world become a post-diplomacy world.

  9. DukeEll 9

    Tiny little Australia not kow towing to the belligerent attitude of china? as our closest neighbour, we should be questioning why they believe now is the time to stand up for their sovereignty in this part of the globe and not be beaten down by another projecting imperialistic great power and not trying to distance ourselves from the only country that could help us immediately.

    • Morrissey 9.1

      …. not trying to distance ourselves from the only country that could help us immediately.

      ???? When we were attacked by state terrorists on 10 July 1985, the Australian government did not help us, either immediately or a bit later. Australia immediately fell in line with the United States and United Kingdom—-and the line was: support France's right to explode nuclear bombs in the South Pacific.

      There's a reason that Australia is laughingly referred to as "the Lackey Country." Australian governments lack the spine to stand up even for their own citizens; you might remember Scott Morrison's craven performance on Australian radio in 2018….

      Pamela Anderson: Defend your friend, and get Julian his passport back, and, and take him back to Australia and be proud of him. And throw him a parade when he gets home.
      Scott Morrison: [amused snickering] Hynnnnn!
      1029 Hot Tomato’s Emily Jade: Errrrr. You want to throw him a parade?[In the background: derisive guffaws from Flan and Christo.]
      Scott Morrison: We-e-ell, it’s, heh heh, NO-O-O!
      Flan, Emily Jade and Christo: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
      Scott Morrison: First of all, but second, I’ve had plenty of MATES who’ve asked me if they could be my special ENVOY to sort the issue OUT—
      1029 Hot Tomato’s Christo: Yeaaah!
      Scott Morrison: –ahhhm, with Pamela Anderson, but putting—
      Christo: L.A.!
      Emily Jade: Ha ha!
      Scott Morrison: —putting that [guffawing] to one si-i-ide—

      Open Mike 20/11/2018

  10. McFlock 10

    In the event of a major confrontation short of nuclear war, NZ should pull a TurkeyWW2 move (they declared war on the Axis in Feb 1945).

    We won't get many points as an ally of the victor, but we do get points for staying out of the way of the victor.

  11. Peter 11

    Will the Aussie TAB be taking bets on the war China v Australia?

  12. ghostwhowalksnz 12

    Clearly Dutton hasnt ready anything about the Origins of the Second World War.

    No comparison of China, especially since both China and Taiwan agree there is only One China. And why would China destroy the international trade upon which its economy depends and the vulnerable sea lanes through which it uses – think that ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal.

    So no 'Drumbeats'

  13. Corey Humm 13

    I too am happy that NZ is remaining independent but I hope the government stays true to it's commitment to find new markets and being more dependent manufacturing wise in nz not just because of jobs,cliamte chinese disgusting working standards that creates most of the products we can consume and covid making sourcing overseas harder, but it makes little sense getting everything from the other side of the world and the ammount of energy needed to trade with china is unsustainable.

    I want NZ to be independent foreign policy wise, the govt must divest from china it said it will and the people expect it to do so not all at once and not completely but too many eggs are one basket.

    We shouldn't really pick a side on this fight but Im not sure Australia picked this battle they've been going back and forth for along time, China was acting psychotic last year and even condemned nz on servsral occasions for daring to criticize Chinas truthfulness on covid.

    Australia has very serious concerns about Chinese expansionism in the region and how they are getting our neighbors into debt and building infrastructure they will never be able to use, china wants a base in south pac it would very much like to cut off australia from the USA. Poor pacific nations that aus/nz have ignored for decades see china hansing out money and think it's a godsend … It's not…. chinese imperialism just like us imperialism is to be resisted we've seen how china treats it own people let alone how it would treat us, their influence on politicians media , universities of sovereign nations like ours is concerning. The CCP is boones friend, unlike NZ other countries actually security seriously (the spy in parliament would be constant headline news were like she'll be right its only nz, where as many aussie has taken down a lot of polis for simply being influenced) chinese expansionism.

    Hong Kong Taiwan are concerning and if either decides to be free and Chinas bootboys and neo red guard suppress or violently attack them for doing so, then … We should join our allied nations over that… China is actively engaged in genocide… which we call a "concern" If we aren't going to stand up for Hong Kong and Taiwan when they eventually decide to become independent however long that may be, if we stand idly by doing nothing in that scenario then we are not New Zealand anymore and we are not being true to the statement Mahuta made about NZ values.

    Cheap gear isn't worth our soul. Blind allegiance to the west isn't worth our livelihood.

  14. RedLogix 14

    The framing of this post which puts all the responsibility for what is happening onto just Australia – and pretending China is the lily-white innocent here – fails a basic test of logic.

    Why?

    Exactly why would Australia being 'picking a fight with China'? It makes zero commercial or military sense for Australia to be the aggressor here. And don't insult me with the 'the Yankees egged them into it' nonsense either. Frankly if you don't know why Australia is responding as it it, you simply haven't been following events and you aren't qualified to speak on the subject.

    • Incognito 14.1

      So, why then?

      • Dal Tarrent 14.1.1

        Red's Last paragraph not clear enough for you incognito ? . The way some commentators on this site talk I am pretty sure they would have signed NZ up for full membership in the greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere a few years back without any hesitation at all .

        • Incognito 14.1.1.1

          <sigh>

          Do you know how many people read TS daily? RedLogix knows he’s not writing here for just me, but you obviously don’t. Doh!

          Instead of offering nothing but irrelevant nonsense that doesn’t answer a thing, you could have given your own analysis. Too much to expect from you, obviously.

          You give some unsubstantiated BS riddled in vagueness and ambiguity (cf. “[t]he way … [they] talk”; “some commentators on this site”; “I am pretty sure”; “they would have”) and obscurity (cf. “a few years back”, i.e. 1940-1945!?).

          If you do intend commenting here, please use better arguments and better examples. However, I think it might be better that you keep silent and listen and learn how to contribute to robust debate here.

          • Dal Tarrent 14.1.1.1.1

            If accusations of collaboration with the latest iteration of GESCP is not clear enough for you how about this :

            Japan's pursuit of Hakko Ichui in the first few decades of the 20th century shows some disturbing parallels with the PRCs' "Belts and roads" economic campaign in my opinion with regards the end Goals both Entities are aiming for .

            I don't consider 1910-1945 very far back historically and I imagine neither do the Chinese considering the age of some of their Historical Claims to regions like the Spratly Islands

            Briefly –

            In both cases we have an East Asian Empire confronting a lack of native natural resources – which have to be sourced over sea-lanes dominated by the United State and her Allies .

            In both Cases we have a essentially totalitarian regime who carry out policies of assimilation when possible ( – Well for the PRC assimilation of anything they deem to be traditionally/historically theirs ) and subdual of any opposition (internal and external ) but refuse to accept or bear any criticism of said behavior by the international community on the basis of "what-about-ism"

            We have the major complication in this scenario that the West has voluntarily handed over the "keys to safe" in a lot of cases by Outsourcing manufacturing to the PRC purely on the basis of cost savings and thus empowered / enabled the PRC to rise to the position in which it currently finds itself .

            How one unravels these complex business/trading/manufacturing inter-dependencies between the US/Allies and the PRC I am at a loss to imagine – and I am pretty sure a War is the last thing anyone wants but at some point the PRC are going to hit a Brick wall with regards their pushing outwards and they'll have only the option to deal or cross the line and start shooting .

            We have New Zealand seemingly in a position of concerning itself only with Trade and profits from the PRC and ignoring the wider context of what it means to be allied to the Chinese Strategic Goals . The Australians have perhaps woken up a little earlier to the threats presented by the PRC if you logically extend their actions out a few more years .

            Ignorance is Bliss if you are New Zealand currently profiting from trade with the PRC – but as they say those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it .

            PS : I find your "chat" manner ….. appalling . Rude , Superior , Dismissive , Smug . Good luck with that attitude by the way I'm sure you'll go far .

            • Incognito 14.1.1.1.1.1

              Well, thank you for your belated and begrudging analysis, which felt like I was pulling teeth. Maybe next time you can avoid assuming everything is clear to everyone and offer an analysis and/or answer upfront, in which case I can avoid the ‘unpleasantries’ that I normally reserve for time-wasting trolls and other venomous internet vermin, yes?

              PS I doubt that many here on TS were adults in the period 1910-1945 but I don’t want to rain on your parade and spoil your narrative.

              HTH, for next time.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 14.1.2

        So, why then?

        Good question, particularly if "It makes zero commercial or military sense…".

        Where are the grown-ups? All this loose talk about China and war is dangerous

        There are no grown-ups,” a priest once told French novelist Andre Malraux.

        What’s the plan? Truth is, there is none. Not for resuscitating the bilateral relationship – say, to the level that other United States allies such as Japan or the Europeans manage with China.

        Nor for salvaging the lost markets. Since December 2019, barley has been totally lost. Coal is down 98 per cent, wine 97 per cent, crustaceans 89 per cent and beef 47 per cent. But as Professor James Laurenceson has demonstrated, the share of China’s markets enjoyed by other Five Eyes countries has expanded.

        And US sales of food and beverage to China have risen. As another Frenchman, General Charles de Gaulle, put it, great powers are “cold monsters”.

        • RedLogix 14.1.2.1

          Being resident in Australia and watching the increasing commercial and rhetorical belligerence Beijing has been demonstrating toward Australia over the past few years is deeply unsettling. There have been provocations ranging from spiteful commercial hits, to outright hostile cyber attacks, to nutso diplomats not so much sabre rattling, but wildly swinging rhetorical chainsaws in a crowded bar.

          By contrast Australia stands nothing to gain from any of this but grief. There is absolutely no rational gain for Australia to be an aggressor here, neither in terms of trade or territorial security. What was a relatively productive relationship when I first came here in 2013 has deteriorated dramatically – and from where I'm standing I honestly cannot see anything that might have motivated the Australians to be the first mover in any of these events.

          By contrast it looks to me that the CCP is using Australia as a relatively weaker member of the Western alliance as a whipping boy to ferment jingoistic sentiments at home, and possibly as a major break out move beyond the First Island Chain.

          Consider for example if the CCP launched a nuclear attack via submarine, on any or all of the major Australian cities. Instant defeat and occupation of a significant Western alliance member and almost certainly there would be no answer from the USA or NATO reasonably fearful of being targeted themselves. And strategically China would then not only totally dominate SE Asia, it would command much of the Indian and Pacific oceans – an incredibly valuable prize. Plus of course all the resources of the Australasian continent to feed their new empire.

          It wouldn't even have to be a nuclear attack, just a conventional one backed up by the threat of nukes if anyone intervened.

          Rationally I'd assess this as an unlikely scenario, but when compared to the irrational threats coming from multiple CCP media mouthpieces – it's not so far-fetched at all. And by this analysis China stands to gain far more from hostilities than Australia does – and there lies the motivation. Yes it would be an incredibly disruptive event, it would sever global relationships, but Xi Xinping might well consider this a price worth paying to establish total dominance across an entire hemisphere.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 14.1.2.1.1

            After the collapse of the USSR (1991), China soon became the major target of the US island chain strategy/doctrine. Will/can wiser heads (on all sides) prevail?

            Yes it [a nuclear or conventional attack on Australia by China] would be an incredibly disruptive event, it would sever global relationships, but Xi Xinping might well consider this a price worth paying to establish total dominance across an entire hemisphere.

            I agree with Carr's opinion: "all this loose talk about China and war is dangerous". Maybe such talk serves some good and/or great purpose, but I’m not seeing it.

            • RedLogix 14.1.2.1.1.1

              The "Island Chain" doctrine far pre-dates the US, it's been a geopolitical reality for China right from it's very beginnings. It's baked into the geography of that part of the world.

              The reality is that China has never been able to project economic or military power beyond the what is now called the First Island Chain at any time in it's history, with but one exception – the last few decades. That chain of historically hostile neighbouring islands has always been the critical factor containing Han expansionary dreams until now.

              Also pertinent to this discussion is this very recent Caspian Report:

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                The "Island Chain" doctrine far pre-dates the US…

                While not disputing that ‘island chains‘ existed prior to human civilisation, and indeed humans, I believe that the Island Chain strategy/doctrine was first mentioned by American foreign policy commentator John Foster Dulles, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

                The Island Chain Strategy is a strategy first mentioned by American foreign policy commentator John Foster Dulles in 1951 during the Korean War. It suggests surrounding the Soviet Union and China by sea. The island chain concept did not become a major theme in American policy, but it has become a major fixation of both American and Chinese analysts to this day. For the U.S. the island chain strategy is a big part of the military of the United States's force projection in the Eastern part of Asia. For Chinese, the concept is used as part of their fears of encirclement by American forces.

                Those fevered "Han expansionary dreams" will just have to wait laugh

                • RedLogix

                  That Dulles is the first person in the modern record to have given a concise name to it, scarcely changes the geographic reality. Nor does it alter the primary reason why the First Island Chain is important, that the vast majority of trade still moves by ocean, and this is not likely to change soon.

                  China has two major constraints, one is it's demographics. It may well become one of the first places on earth to become old before it becomes rich. The other is it's extreme dependence on oceanic trade for both it's essential economic inputs (oil and agricultural goods) and for the bulk of it's export goods. Historically the presence of multiple hostile sea-going neighbours each controlling important choke-points meant that China could never establish a classic thalassocratic empire, and prior to railways the land routes over Asia were constrained to very low volume, high value goods like silk and precious metals.

                  It was only in the post WW2 era where the US Navy enforced Freedom of Navigation on everyone that China was able to break out from this geographic trap, and once the disastrous Maoist era came to an end, China became wealthy on the back of a massive global trade for the first time in it's history. All of this wealth transported on ships protected by the US Navy using global trade systems the Americans had originally created, which in turn enabled China to take it's place among the developed and modern nations of the world.

                  And all was going to plan until Xi Xinping – President for Life – came to power and determined that the 'Middle Kingdom' must be restored to it's imagined former glories of global dominance.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    …enabled China to take it's place among the developed and modern nations of the world.

                    Agreed, China is developing ‘nicely‘, and is a major contributor to the global rise in average living standards. Some seem anxious (to the point of beating a drum) that China / the CCP / Jinping might try to take things too far ("Chinese global hegemony"; "global dominance"), but time will tell.

                    The Russians Chinese are coming…?
                    According to Norman Jewison, the film – released at the height of the Cold War – had considerable impact in both Washington and Moscow. It was one of the few American films of the time to portray the Russians in a positive light.

                    • RedLogix

                      Kevin Rudd is scarcely a drum beater, and this is a nicely nuanced speech from three years ago. However a lot has happened since then, in particular when we look at the great contradictions between the CCP's words and their actions.

                      For example on the one hand they avow no expansionary aims, yet at the same time unilaterally redefine China's interests to include the South China Sea and Taiwan. This is blatantly slippery nonsense that any child can see through – yet they persist in it knowing it makes them look untrustworthy, and yet they don't care.

                      Nor does Australia stand alone in these concerns – the PRC is embroiled in confrontation with virtually all of it's neighbours to some degree or another, conducting low-level warfare against multiple nations from India to Japan. All of which constitute a pattern of aggression only the willfully naive choose to ignore.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Diplomacy in a divided world. Diplomacy First!
                    Diplomacy vs. ideology: China’s wolf warriors
                    Diplomacy vs. security: Australia’s wolverines

                    For example on the one hand they avow no expansionary aims, yet at the same time unilaterally redefine China's interests to include the South China Sea and Taiwan.

                    Didn't realise "no expansionary aims" was avowed CCP policy – seems unrealistic given China's population and resource constraints, similar to the constraints facing human civilisation as a whole on spaceship Earth, imho.

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expansionism

                    As for "unilaterally redefining China's interests", such redefinition isn't confined to either the PRC or ROC governments.

                    However, former ROC president Ma Ying-jeou re-asserted claims on mainland China as late as 2008.

                    Rather, unilateral redefinition of national interests occurs more often than you appear to realise. Slippery!

                    I'm no supporter of China's governance model, nor the CCP's attempts to unduly influence foreign affairs. When it comes to Taiwan (or Tibet/Uighurs/Hong Kong) 'versus' the CCP, my instinct (right or wrong) is to support the underdog. But it's a truism/Trumpism that many CCP policies are developed with a view to 'China first'. China is not particularly unusual in this regard.

                    INTERVIEW: Henry Kissinger on the political consequences of the pandemic, China's rise, and the future of the European Union

                    Kissinger: Yes. The big issue to look upon is not just to prevent Chinese hegemony, but to understand that if we achieve that objective – which we must – the need to coexist with a country of that magnitude remains. Let me say a word about the assumed global domination of China.

                    Döpfner: Please.

                    Kissinger: There is a big difference between the Chinese perception of history and the Russian perception. Russian leaders have historically been insecure, because they have spent their history defending themselves against potential enemies on all sides. They have therefore, since becoming strong, identified influence with physical domination. China has a more complex view. The Confucian view, which shapes Chinese thinking side by side with Chinese Marxism, implies that if China performs at the maximum level of its capacities, it will generate a majestic conduct which will produce respect in the rest of the world – making it agreeable, at some levels, to Chinese preferences. In the Empire period, foreign countries were graded by the degree of their proximity to Chinese cultural precepts. There existed a department for grading these countries, and it conducted foreign policy. China has historically and recently supported this attitude with military actions to remind adversaries that this is not just a philosophical debate. But if you actually study the Chinese military actions, since the period that the communists took over, they’ve all been for psychological effect. They were often very tough. And we must be prepared to oppose Chinese hegemony. But we, at the same time, should remain open to a policy of coexistence.

                    In dealing with China, different schools of thought have to be sorted out. There’s a group who thinks the Chinese capacity for foreign policy must be confronted at all levels from economics to Chinese internal politics. It ascribes current Chinese policies to the current Chinese leadership and strives for bringing about a more accommodating group. I, on the other hand, believe that such an attitude generates a maximum of resistance. Of course, free societies must continue to conduct world affairs compatible with their principles and free of the threat of hegemony. But coexistence in the current world of technology is a necessity, because it is impossible to visualize a war between major countries who have significant AI technology that will not destroy cultural life as we know it. So that will be the debate in America and maybe in the world.

                    Döpfner: A truly reliable alliance between the United States and Europe would be essential for America. Do you think a strategic disagreement with regards to China can be a real threat to the transatlantic relationship?

                    Kissinger: If Europe pursues a policy of taking advantage of American-Chinese disagreement, it will make confrontations all the sharper and crises all the more overwhelming. I am not in favor of a crusade against China. But I am in favor of developing a common strategic understanding so that the situation will not be inflamed further by constant maneuvering for advantage.

                    Döpfner: But if China becomes the globally leading economy, it seems very likely that it will also have a major impact on political values and political systems in countries that are economically dependent on China – which will be almost all of the non-American rest of the world.

                    Kissinger: Well, I don’t think it’s the entire world or even the dominant part of it.

                    Döpfner: We can debate about Russia. But Europe, Africa, Australia?

                    Kissinger: No, I am assuming that the societies you mention have enough self-discipline and confidence that they will not permit such an outcome.

                    • RedLogix

                      Did you know Kissinger is still alive? As one wag put it, God doesn't want him and the Devil is anxious he'll take over.

                      But otherwise yes that's a pretty decent quotation there. For all that we might quibble over his complex and controversial career, Kissinger was unquestionably well informed on the harder realities of geo-politics. (With more of an emphasis on the 'politics' than the ‘geo’ I would imagine.

                      My approach differs somewhat in that while Kissinger talks to the important cultural differences, I tend to look at geography, climate, security and demographics as the ultimate drivers of the fate of nations. The big one that I think is missed by Kissinger is that China is a rapidly aging society, and it's current export based prosperity model cannot be sustained much beyond the end of this decade as increasing numbers of skilled workers leave the workforce due to old age. Nor will there be the mass of younger adults able to take up the slack with internal consumption.

                      And I suspect the CCP understand this, that the clock is very much ticking on their ambitions to secure a dominant political role into the future. By this logic as their export dominated economy starts to shrink over this coming decade, the CCP's political contract with their middle class will collapse, leading to internal instability. This the CCP fears more than anything else – Tianamen Square being just a tiny foretaste of the possibilities.

                      So what then is the purpose of this 'wolf warrior diplomacy'? In part of course it plays well to their national audience, consisting of many millions of intensely nationalistic individuals who've been indoctrinated with a very different view of the world than the one we share. The CCP knows well the need to cultivate a mass cadre of loyalists who can be counted on to sacrifice all in the name of their cause. This is after all how they came to power in the first place.

                      The second reason is an element of that ancient Chinese war doctrine of 'winning the war without fighting', using the enemies own internal contradictions to defeat themselves, or at the least to prevent them from fighting. These diplomatic provocations, loud and obnoxious, but falling short of actual war serve the purpose of unsettling their opponents and stirring up doubt and divisions.

                      And perhaps at the extreme I think we're seeing a deliberate policy of provocation for the purpose of leading Canberra into a misstep, or a reaction that the CCP can use to justify an military response, invasion and occupation of Australia itself. While superficially unthinkable, as I outlined above, the strategic merits of such a plan are overwhelming. And it's my sense that while no-one in Canberra is saying this out loud right now, this ANZAC Day speech came very close to it.

                      For their part the Australians have an enduring distrust of authoritarians; their rebellious larrikin culture may well have been subdued in recent decades, but it's not been crushed altogether. Beijing miscalculates badly if it imagines that it's crass, coercive actions of the past two years are going to intimidate much.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Did you know Kissinger is still alive?

                    Yep – that interview was published a week ago. Mind still seems sharp.

                    And perhaps at the extreme I think we’re seeing a deliberate policy of provocation for the purpose of leading Canberra into a misstep, or a reaction that the CCP can use to justify an military response, invasion and occupation of Australia itself.

                    And yep, that does seem to be an extreme view to me too. Like Kissinger, I’m assuming that Australian society, including its political leaders, have enough self-discipline and confidence to avoid such an outcome.

                    Mind you, it wouild certainly take our minds off Taiwan!

                    • RedLogix

                      An invasion of any nation, Taiwan or Australia, is indeed a high risk enterprise, but given their rhetoric around Taiwan, a risk they do seem prepared to contemplate.

                      And either case the CCP don't have to put all that many boots on the ground, a threat of a mass missile attack – along with perhaps a salutatory demonstration – is all it would take to ensure a compliant puppet govt is installed. And in this respect Australia is not only the more vulnerable target, but also the far more valuable one strategically.

                      From the CCP's perspective, if they're going to be hung for a lamb, they might as well make it a sheep.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    An invasion of any nation, Taiwan or Australia, is indeed a high risk enterprise, but given their rhetoric around Taiwan, a risk they do seem prepared to contemplate.

                    In living memory China has only being on the receiving end of major invasions, for example from Japan. That will inform their perspective.

                    The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) was the largest Asian war in the 20th century. It accounted for the majority of civilian and military casualties in the Pacific War, with between 10 and 25 million Chinese civilians and over 4 million Chinese and Japanese military personnel missing or dying from war-related violence, famine, and other causes. The war has been called "the Asian holocaust."

                    There are perhaps a few countries that could advise China about the pros and cons of invading other nations, all for the best possible reasons of course.

                    The "Eight-Nation Alliance" refers to invading troops sent by Britain, the US, Germany, France, Russia, Japan, Italy and Austria-Hungary to China in 1900, to suppress the popular Chinese anti-imperialist Yihetuan Movement. They looted and pillaged Beijing and other cities.

                    Yes, there's plenty of evidence that many countries are contemplating the possibility of China invading Taiwan, but it's hardly a fait accompli.

                    As for the possibility that China is comtemplating invading Australia, perhaps they're getting advice from Japan?

                    Japan invades China – check.
                    China contemplates invading Australia – a theoretical possibility.

                    and, to complete this alternative Rock-Paper-Scissors 'game':

                    Australia contemplates invading Japan – a theoretical possibility.

                    Don't rule that last one out reflexively. Australian troops were part of the BCOF in Japan after the end of WWII, so they have form.

                    Occupation of Japan
                    The official British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), composed of Australian, British, Indian and New Zealand personnel, was deployed on February 21, 1946. While US forces were responsible for the overall occupation, BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarization and the disposal of Japan's war industries. BCOF was also responsible for occupation of several western prefectures and had its headquarters at Kure. At its peak, the force numbered about 40,000 personnel. During 1947, BCOF began to decrease its activities in Japan, and officially wound up in 1951.

                    From the CCP's perspective, if they're going to be hung for a lamb, they might as well make it a sheep.

                    Given such penetrating insights into the CCP's perspective, I don't give much for China's chances. Dog tucker I reckon.

                    • greywarshark

                      I wonder where Dal Tarrent usually writes and finds his commentary received without question?

                    • RedLogix

                      Umm – this is 2021. If you're going to use events from almost a century ago, and ignore all the changes in the world, and especially China, since those days – then excuse me for not being overly impressed.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Ummm – not ignoring events since the end of WWII, just providing a bit of historical perspective.

                    And please excuse me for not being overly impressed with you floating the fanciful notion of China invading Australia, notwithstanding your otherwise penetrating insights into the 'hive mind' perspective of the inscrutable CCP laugh

                    Döpfner: But if China becomes the globally leading economy, it seems very likely that it will also have a major impact on political values and political systems in countries that are economically dependent on China – which will be almost all of the non-American rest of the world.

                    Kissinger: Well, I don’t think it’s the entire world or even the dominant part of it.

                    Döpfner: We can debate about Russia. But Europe, Africa, Australia?

                    Kissinger: No, I am assuming that the societies you mention have enough self-discipline and confidence that they will not permit such an outcome.

                    • greywarshark

                      Ummm Red Logix the fact that you state our year as 2021 is the riposte to your comment about history. We carry history with us just as we add our present year to all the other years we have counted since No.1 AD (and there is another parallel system called BCE).

                      The Chinese will be aware of a lot from history, including the double dealing of Britain and no doubt others, and their introduction of opium which is a great fictional story to read, and then one realises it isn't fiction. There will be all sorts of memories and grievances they may exhume and polish up like the terracotta warriors, those reminders of their past as a great power. So Manchuria, Nanking etc.

                      History isn't an externality that can be dismissed. You are not an economist, you are an engineer I think, and so must be aware of the characteristic properties of what you are working with.

                    • greywarshark

                      This from 97 year old Kissinger, it seems that institutional memory is still functioning. These are the important points he made:

                      …He told the forum that while nuclear weapons during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union had had the capacity to inflict vast damage, that capacity for destruction was exceeded by nuclear technology and artificial intelligence capabilities the US and China now have at their disposal.

                      “For the first time in human history, humanity has the capacity to extinguish itself in a finite period of time,” Kissinger said. “We have developed the technology of a power that is beyond what anybody imagined even 70 years ago.”

                      “And now, to the nuclear issue is added the high tech issue, which in the field of artificial intelligence, in its essence is based on the fact that man becomes a partner of machines and that machines can develop their own judgement,” he said.

                      “So in a military conflict between high-tech powers, it’s of colossal significance.” He said that while the Soviet Union had vast military might during the Cold War, China had greater economic strength and technological expertise….

                      Under President Donald Trump, relations with China worsened, with the nations imposing a series of economic sanctions on each other. President Joe Biden has maintained the US’ hawkish stance towards China, with a recent meeting between US and Chinese diplomats in Alaska resulting in mutual recriminations.

                      https://www.businessinsider.com.au/henry-kissinger-in-doomsday-warning-over-us-china-conflict-2021-5?r=US&IR=T (This link comes with a handy advert on hair microblading, useful if you have a tendency to pull your hair out after reading the latest dangerous idiocies.)

  15. Muttonbird 15

    What is alarming is some residents of hawkish Western Nations gulping hook, line, and sinker the flashy new bait offered by their own leaders on China.

    Captured, they 'reluctantly' repeat outlandish war scenarios as if to gaslight their more considered neighbours.

  16. greywarshark 16

    There was an earlier post on this at https://thestandard.org.nz/we-must-resist-us-pressure-on-china-that-could-lead-to-war/#comment-1780136

    There might be some different points in that to add to the discussion.

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