How have economic ties been tightened?

A man and a woman in suits smile as they pose for photos in front of a red backdrop.

WA Asian Engagement Minister Peter Tinley and China Consul General in Perth

A timely warning … but is it largely falling on deaf ears?

WHAT is amazing is the apparent indifference to the possibility that Australia and Australians are setting themselves up to …

-fail to see the warning signs
-if this encroachment continues our sovereignty will cease to be of any consequence


TIME is running out

SCOMO says it will not be acceptable to conduct business relationships based on perceived conflicts, that is secondary boycotts will be outlawed … he thinks he has a right to legislate where organisations can buy and invest

BUT he is choosing to ignore the inherent conflict this places upon his lot and their so-called traditions

THEN again it’s apt to remind ourselves it’s the ‘whatever it takes’ rule that applies to everything …


“The best way to understand this is through the lens of [former Chinese leader] Mao Zedong’s tactic of

‘use the countryside to surround the city‘”

WITH the FIRB allowing foreign investment/buy up of Australia … its property … residential, commercial and agricultural … it would appear it’s been that easy for China … and with a member of the CCP in our Parliament … and others in roles in local government, and state government …


By Eliza Borrello

10 NOVEMBER 2019

A crowd inside the Government House ballroom lit up with red lights.

PHOTO: The red carpet was rolled out at Government House in Perth to celebrate China’s National Day. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

RELATED STORY: China’s actions ‘inconsistent’ with Australian values, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says

RELATED STORY: WA built its economy on the back of China. Now it faces a looming trade war

RELATED STORY: Satellite sleuths verify ‘chilling’ video of blindfolded Uyghurs at Chinese train station

It is a warm spring night and Government House in Perth is illuminated with a red, China themed glow.

Industry leaders, dignitaries and diplomats have been invited by the WA chapter of the Australia China Business Council to toast China’s National Day.

The mood is friendly as the state’s political, business and diplomatic elite rub shoulders over a spread of local produce, while Chinese music wafts through the crowd.

Government House lit up with red lights with a crowd outside.

PHOTO: The exterior of Government House, the Governor’s residence, was bathed in red to mark China’s National Day. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

From the lectern, the WA Government’s Asian Engagement Minister, Peter Tinley, is eager to demonstrate just how engaged he is with China’s Consul General in Perth, Dong Zhihua.

*“Can I also thank Madam Dong and acknowledge her presence, thank you once again. I see you so often I think we’ll move in together at some point,” he jokes. *

A man and a woman in suits smile as they pose for photos in front of a red backdrop.

PHOTO: WA Asian Engagement Minister Peter Tinley and China Consul General in Perth Dong Zhihua have forged a close relationship. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)


The atmosphere is in stark contrast to the rebukes China has recently received from federal politicians, including the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who last month proclaimed the Chinese Communist Party had policies, “inconsistent with our own values”.

“We’re not going to allow university students to be unduly influenced, we’re not going to allow theft of intellectual property and we’re not going to allow our government bodies or non-government bodies to be hacked into,” he said.


VIDEO: Mr Dutton said the Communist Party of China’s policies were inconsistent with Australian values. (ABC News)

Economic dependence increases

Former WA Liberal premier Colin Barnett said if he was Prime Minister Scott Morrison he would have shut Mr Dutton down.

“I would have told him to be quiet,” he said.

*Mr Barnett signed big resource deals with China in his eight and a half years running the state during the mining construction boom from 2008–17.

But he said many east coast politicians did not understand the Asian superpower.

“I think there’s been a fair bit of jealousy because this was the big trade event and we won’t see in the future the sort of growth that we’ve seen over this decade,” he said.

While WA’s mining boom may be over, exports to China remain strong.

*Resources worth $81 billion head north from WA to China each year.

EMBED: Chart – China tops the list of WA’s biggest export destinations

*Unsurprisingly, iron ore exports make up the lion’s share, worth $62 billion.

Exports to China from WA dwarf those of other Australian states, revealing how dependent the state’s economy is on the country as a buyer.

EMBED: Chart – WA exports more than 60 per cent of Australia’s goods to China

*Chinese companies are also significant investors in WA’s mining industry.*

It controls eight of the state’s foreign-controlled mines, second only to the UK which is the controlling owner of 14.

China’s new ‘Silk Road’
The Chinese Government is inviting world leaders to Beijing to sell them its hugely ambitious, signature One Belt One Road project.

Fortescue Metals Group sells billions of dollars worth of iron ore mined in WA to China every year.

Australia’s trade relationship with China is one FMG’s founder and chairman Andrew Forrest was keen to preserve.

“I find them a tremendous people to work with, to engage with and to make very true friendships from,” he said.

Are we getting too close?

*But author, China researcher and Charles Sturt University public ethics professor Clive Hamilton warned some Australian businesses and state and territory governments had succumbed to intense lobbying by China and become too close.

*”The best way to understand this is through the lens of [former Chinese leader] Mao Zedong’s tactic of ‘use the countryside to surround the city‘,” he said.*

A satellite map of Australia covered by China and Australian flags.

PHOTO: China expert Clive Hamilton says WA is the state most economically dependent on Beijing. (ABC News/Google Earth)

“This was a tactic developed during the civil war against the nationalists in the 1920s and 30s — when the Communist Party could not defeat the nationalists in the city, they had to retreat to the countryside.

“They’re using the same principle all around the world, including in Australia. *

“When the environment in Canberra became more hostile or suspicious or vigilant, let’s say starting about three years ago, Beijing decided that they would focus a lot more effort on the countryside — that is on the outlying states Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, but also they’ve had these huge victories in Victoria.

“So they’ve been cultivating and building their political influence in Western Australia and other parts of the ‘countryside’ as a way of surrounding Canberra, as it were.” *

The huge victory Professor Hamilton cited was Victoria’s decision to sign up to China’s controversial Belt and Road initiative.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at Tiananmen Square in China.

PHOTO: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at Tiananmen Square in China. (Twitter: Lisa Tucker)

China’s most controversial win in the Top End came in 2015, when the Northern Territory Government agreed to lease the Port of Darwin to the Chinese company Landbridge.

*Over in Western Australia, the State Government signed a deal that will see the Chinese tech-giant Huawei build a new communications system for Perth’s metropolitan trains, despite the Federal Government blocking the company from Australia’s 5G network on security grounds.

VIDEO: China attempts global dominance with One Belt One Road project (ABC News)

Tensions on the federal level

But not everyone in the west is happy with Beijing.

WA Federal Liberal MP Andrew Hastie made headlines when he used an opinion piece in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers to compare the handling of China’s rise to the failure to contain the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

The comments were “deplored” by the Chinese Embassy in response.

Andrew Hastie stands in the House of Representatives. He is holding a piece of paper and gesturing with his other hand

PHOTO: Liberal MP Andrew Hastie has warned of the threat China poses to Australia. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Mr Hastie also called out China’s treatment of its Uyghur population — an ethnic Muslim minority, members of which Beijing authorities have locked up en masse.

“I am very troubled by the clear evidence of re-education camps, where one million Uyghurs have been forcibly detained and indoctrinated into communist thinking,” Mr Hastie told Federal Parliament last month.

Vision, posted anonymously online in September and verified as authentic by experts, showed freshly shaven and blindfolded Uyghurs during a mass transfer of people in China’s Xinjiang Province.

YOUTUBE: The video released by War on Fear.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne has also recently spoken out against the plight of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

“Turning a blind eye to all human rights violations means an acceptance of behaviour that undermines the foundations of international peace and stability,” she said.

“Where there is no challenge, there is no progress.”

But China’s Consul General in Perth, Dong Zhihua, argued the Uyghurs were being re-trained to prevent terrorism.

A headshot of a woman in a suit speaking at a lectern.

PHOTO: China Consul General in Perth Dong Zhihua has dismissed fears about her country’s human rights record. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

“What we are actually doing is that we help those young people to learn practical skills so that they can find jobs … and avoid those young people being influenced by the extremist ideas,” she said.


WA political, business leaders remain tight-lipped

China’s human rights record was not something Mr Forrest wanted to discuss.

“You could be assured that Fortescue does not do its diplomacy through headlines,” he said

“We stand on our track record of [fighting] modern slavery, we stand on our track record of human rights.”

Australia is caught between two superpowers
American officials also worry that Australia’s economic dependence compromises its ability to stand up to China. And new polling shows many Australians feel the same, write Simon Jackman and Elliott Brennan.

WA Premier Mark McGowan also would not be drawn on criticism of China over the Uyghurs issue.

“I’m aware it’s a federal issue, I don’t really engage at that level,” he said.

“My role is to make sure that West Australians have jobs and opportunities, to make sure we have good relationships with the countries in our region.”

Pressed further, he declined to make a single criticism of China’s leadership or conduct in the world.

“Look I’m not going to get into that,” he said.

VIDEO: WA Premier Mark McGowan refuses to criticise China (ABC News)

“The Federal Government I think might have gone a bit overboard in their megaphone diplomacy.

“They should, if they have criticisms or they want to take issues up, you take them up in a more refined way, a more subtle way.”

Professor Hamilton said of all the states in Australia, WA was the one that was most under the influence of Chinese Communist Party bosses in Beijing.

“I think that over the last decade or two, political and business leaders in Western Australia have become so hooked on the money that’s flowing in that they’ve decided that they’re willing to trade off human rights and democracy,” he said.