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article imageOp-Ed: China infuriates Australia — Time for Australia to move on

By Paul Wallis     May 25, 2020 in World
Sydney - Have to give China credit – Not much could have made Australia-China relations worse than the latest thundering denunciations from Beijing. Most are insulting, but the real issue is the total lack of reason or even basic common sense.
Just about anything will set off one of these lectures from China. The latest is a statement from US Secretary of State Pompeo. The subject of Pompeo’s statements was Victoria’s Belt and Road interest. Pompeo said that if it posed a problem for the US, they’d simply “disconnect”.
That, for the record, is the current United States position on the Belt and Road, and has been since the pre-Trump era. Pompeo also said, meaningfully, that he hoped Five Eyes partners like Australia would preserve the integrity of their communications. This refers to the ongoing cyberwar with China and the 5G network issues related to Huawei. Security is top priority, and the US views Huawei as a serious possible risk.
China, however, chose these comments to focus on Australia’s relationship with the US, describing Australia as “seen a US lackey” and similar endearing insults. This comes at a time when China is also in the process of targeting more Australian exports.
Absolutely intolerable
This masterpiece of imbecilic propaganda and rhetoric comes at exactly the wrong time for Australia. We’ve just had a killer drought for many years. We had the unprecedented bushfires, the worst in our history. We had the pandemic and did far better at managing it than both China and the US.
Then we got China complaining about a perfectly logical Australian idea for an investigation into the pandemic. 62 other nations support this idea. The Chinese then finally agreed to an investigation by the WHO, while calling our proposal a “joke” and imposing 80% tariffs on our grain exports.
Well, who’s laughing now? The pandemic is still the big issue months later. China is still worried about a second wave, for obvious reasons. How did China first loudly state that no investigation was necessary, then suddenly agreed to one? Hilarious, eh? See if you can find any logic in the Chinese position on this situation, because it’s very hard to find.
Now we’re also getting lectured by a very patronizing China on a century-plus standing relationship with the US, with added threats? This is intolerable. Australia is far more than annoyed.
To create a bit of context – We opened up the first international trade with China after the Cultural Revolution when China was a pariah state. Without our iron ore, China would have had a pretty hard time manufacturing all those goods and materials. Without our grain, they’d have been paying market prices. Much the same applies to other exports to China.
Australia’s problem is that we’re too “nice”. We use phrases like the absurd “level playing field” in trade negotiations. We don’t stoop to the level of abusing and denigrating other countries. We can even keep our official mouths shut during the antics of various governments out of a desire to be polite. We tend to be supportive on a regular basis of our allies and trade partners. Including China until recently.
Looks like we need a different approach in this case. Tolerating this kind of intimidatory behaviour from any nation would be a particularly bad move for us. It’d seriously weaken our trade position and negatively affect our ability to negotiate terms of trade. Doesn’t matter whether it’s Lichtenstein or China; accepting such abuse isn’t even a theoretical an option for Australia. We have to draw the line and draw it clearly. The China/Australia relationship as it now is would be a very unambiguous place to draw it.
A China-less future? Maybe just as well.
For the first time in Australian history, we have a clear choice about how to manage our options. We’re no longer dealing with a smart, savvy China, but some sort of deranged propaganda machine with no savvy at all.
We are now seriously looking at a China-less immediate future thanks to this insufferable, sewer-like, series of insults. There is simply no basis for dialogue. Either China shuts up and shows due respect, or we’re gone. We’ll take our friendly prices with us. China can fill the gaps with inferior quality sources at market prices from multiple sources. That’ll be nice and expensive.
I don’t know where China got the idea that Australia is some kind of international doormat. That idea can go, and stay gone. Not many nations know how to annoy the entire Australian population, but China has truly succeeded. Every word from Beijing, every shallow, nasty little comment, makes it worse.
No Australian government will tolerate (or will be allowed by the public to tolerate) such utter disrespect. We’ve heard quite enough, without adding the utterly insane trade policies and bizarre, 20th century geopolitical babble. In that sense, now may be the best time to say goodbye, before these rantings turn into something much worse.
China has shown itself to be utterly unreliable in its relations with Australia. This untrustworthy, irrational behaviour really is unacceptable, and it’s not going to be accepted. Other countries take note – This is how China sees the world. You may not like the view.
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 US Secretary of State Pompeo, China Belt and Road Initiative Victoria, five eyes, communication security, China Australia relations 2020
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