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article imageOp-Ed: Flatfooted-in-mouth US and Chinese diplomacy annoying Australia

By Paul Wallis     May 15, 2012 in World
Sydney - Australia has been getting some rather odd messages from both the US and China about its relationships with the “other side”. At this rate we may have to start charging for listening to these stunningly undiplomatic remarks.
In the latest instalment of wisdom from the sages, China is now ‘concerned’ by Australia/US defence ties. This is part of a long, extremely annoying series of communications we’ve had from both parties on the subject of each other. The continual sniping at each other between the US, Australia’s long-time ally, friend and trading partner, and China, (with which Australia opened trade relationships before any other Western nation), is just plain irritating. Given the trade relationship between China and the US, the constant bickering is even more annoying.
A few years ago US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked former Australian PM Rudd how we would “contain our banker”. This particular perception of China as needing containment is pretty bizarre, given the fact that US industry has been providing the cash for China to buy Australian minerals. Chinese capital is doing a lot around the world, and if the US doesn’t like it, perhaps it should recognize that fact.
The US has also complained about “China’s military buildup”, which any military commentator would call “getting out of the museum”. In practice the Chinese can buy top of the range stuff straight off the shelf, and have been upgrading a military which desperately needed it. The US has been bitching for years about Chinese currency values, despite its own currency position issues and the interesting if hideous possibilities of deflation based on an external currency.
China, meanwhile, has a few issues of its own, which are mainly internal Chinese business, but externally look cosmetic when the US is mentioned. China knows perfectly well that the US presence in Australia dates back to the 1960s. The US installations in Australia are secret in theory, but not in practice. Nor does the presence of a Marine battalion or so constitute any sort of threat to China. Any US carrier group or single sub is far more dangerous.
This is either wilful misinterpretation of the US realignment of priorities to the real perceived risk zones of South Asia and the Middle East, or actual ignorance, which is quite unbelievable. China cannot possibly fail to be aware that US military priorities have shifted- Away from China. The only real interpretation to be put on this stance is that China still has a few PLA hardhead geriatrics who are positioned in the old Cold War mode.
That either side believes a confrontation which would be extremely bad for business on both sides is either practical or likely to achieve something is no great reflection of deep thought or IQ levels on either side. Would a trade war achieve much? Yes, it’d do unbelievable damage to both economies. Would a confrontation over Taiwan achieve anything? Yes, it’d kill a lot of Taiwanese, a few Chinese and Americans and do more massive economic damage. Historically it’d be just another horrible chapter in Chinese history with a bit of foreign help. Would an all-out war achieve anything? Yes, millions of dead on the basis of some sort of political hissy fit and presumably more importantly a drop in sales.
Meanwhile, Australia, that quaint little country among nations, is supposed to rethink both a multi-hundred billion dollar trade relationship and a multigenerational military and national relationship on the basis of what, exactly?
What a load of crap (fen).
Australia is apparently rather patronizingly only considered worthy of being insulted in this unnecessary catfight. Who is kidding whom, and why are we the only people on Earth supposed to be dumb enough to believe it? The world is in bad enough shape as it is without China and America acting like a couple of belligerent (and quite disingenuous) drunks.
Diplomatic talk and governmental niceties aside, get real. The Australian relationship with the US is not subject to debate. The Australian relationship with China is also not subject to debate. The implication that either of these relationships is somehow conducted on the basis of someone else’s approval is extremely insulting. We don’t like being talked down to, by anyone. Particularly not at our expense.
It’s to be hoped that any misconceptions regarding Australia’s position in the US/China bitching sessions are now clarified. We’re one of the richest countries on Earth. We do business with who we please, and we protect our interests as we see fit. End message.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Australian US relationships, Australia US alliance, China Australia trade, Hillary Cinton, US military deployments Asia
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