WE need to make Australia’s priority its own citizens. …
Not worry about alienating a foreign power. And we need to take some solid steps to limit a government which is gaining more and more control over our daily lives.
AUSTRALIA SHOULD BEWARE OF THE CHINESE DRAGON
In mid-August, 2019, Andrew Hastie, MP warned Australia to be wary of China.
Hastie is Chair of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security. Hastie had read John Garnaut’s analysis of China’s strategy.
*According to Garnaut, Xi thinks “all the Chinese people should be unified like a strong city wall”.
The response was fairly predictable. There were mutterings and rumblings and then a disclaimer from Senator Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. ‘There’s a monster in the room, but please shut up about it,’ was the message; though former Prime Minister John Howard (cited in Hartcher, 2019) admitted that China was far more of a danger than it had been ten years ago.
*Of course, official Chinese media made the usual protestations about cold war rhetoric, anti-Chinese sentiment, racism and so on.
But Scott Swift, a former U.S. naval commander of the U.S Pacific fleet, said Australia would ignore the Chinese threat at its peril:
“I find the discussion that’s occurring in Australia right now quite refreshing .
What China’s doing is embracing the international rules-based system where they think it advantages them and rejecting it where they think it disadvantages them. So China has a grand strategy, but I don’t think the US does.”
All around the world, the Chinese are carrying out that strategy to control and encircle the West.
Jammu and Kashmir , long disputed among Pakistan, India and China, territory, have been cordoned off and news is being censored heavily. There have been questionable moves by India’s leader Modi ; and thus Pakistan is already turning to China for help.
Papua New Guinea has asked China to refinance its enormous debt. It slips ever closer and closer to becoming fully dependent on Chinese money.
Vanuatu, too, has an enormous Chinese Embassy and there are suggestions that the Chinese are preparing for a military base. Those claims have been denied. But as they say- never believe anything until it has been officially denied. Countries nearby, like Western Samoa, are getting gifts of buildings or schools.
1888: when Britain ruled the waves
What are China’s plans for the Pacific? Why are they pouring money into Vanuatu, New Guinea and Samoa?
China has been snapping up ports from Piraeus in Greece to Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Darwin, in Australia; as well as a majority stake in a port in Brazil. This positions China as a major world player in trade, manufacturing, and all other aspects of trade and commerce imaginable.
How does China get its manufactures into Australia or the USA or anywhere else? On container ships unloading at ports around the world.
*Australia used to be a country with many manufacturing industries: car-making, shoe-making, and clothing. The steel-making that used to be a massive part of Newcastle and Wollongong has long gone.
Many key ports in the Indo-Pacific are now under Chinese control
*Thus our manufacturing has been scaled back and virtually shut down. The bean-counters thought it was uneconomic. And all those jobs for working-class men and women have gone.
CHINA AND AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES
In Australian universities, too, we see the spread of Chinese influence, with Clive Hamilton deriding student radicals defending China as “useful idiots”.
*But I wonder if the horse has now bolted. Sydney University has two powerful Chinese student groups and Chinese control the Students’ Representative Council, Nick Bonyhady says (2019).
Chinese students make up the largest group of foreign students at many universities. Students who demonstrate in favour of democracy find that Chinese officials visit their families back in China. And the families warn the students not to take part in any demonstrations which might offend China. Apparently this practice has been going on at other universities and elsewhere for some time, Fergus Hunter says (Bonyhady 2019). Beijing’s official sources have encouraged the ‘patriotic’ students, who have trolled and threatened those supporting Hong Kong freedom-supporting students.
It’s worth stressing that people may be in Australia and call themselves ‘student’. But many of them aim to settle in Australia, and possibly bring their families here. Some are buying property already. Their loyalty may be to Australia. And it may not.
Chairman Xi says any Chinese anywhere must be part of China and be loyal to the Fatherland.
STUDENTS OR PROPERTY-OWNERS?
Many Chinese students are in reality not serious students. They are keenly interested in buying property in Australia, for themselves and their families. A real estate source (Hoole, 2019) explains. Most Chinese live in apartments with one bedroom and sometimes two. That’s all they can hope to acquire. But for the same money, they can do much better in Australia:
*Consequently, Chinese people see property ownership as a status symbol. This leads them to look outside their own country for opportunities to invest. For the price of an apartment in China, they can own a standalone house in Australia with three or four bedrooms, a garden, a lower deposit and stable capital gains. On average, a Chinese property buyer will invest between $500,000 and $950,000 in Australian real estate.
*Australian real estate is attractive to Chinese property buyers for several reasons. For a start, Australia is not too far away from China. Additionally, the Aussie lifestyle is attractive to Chinese families, particularly the top-quality schools and universities. Education is extremely important in Chinese culture – 42 percent of Chinese people living in Australia are degree-educated, compared to just 14.8 percent of the general Australian population.
*So Chinese buyers are generally affluent, well educated and middle-class. They’re overwhelmingly attracted to our major cities. Between them, Sydney and Melbourne are home to 75 percent of the Australian population born in mainland China.
CHINESE POWER OR CHINESE PANIC?
With so much land being sold to Chinese firms like Landbridge, and ports such as Darwin coming under their control, Australia’s sovereignty is threatened.
Some sources have said that Australia is falling under China’s control more and more every month. They argue that it even risks becoming a province of China. Well-informed sources with experience of the Chinese Government say that Australia has been much too weak in dealing with China (Carey, 2019) .
Meantime, well-meaning people warn of moral panics and saying the wrong thing about the Chinese. (West, 2017). Oh dear, we must not say anything which somebody could call racist. Heaven forbid.
Chinese sources are very quick to use that term as a means of shutting down questions or dissent, especially in the universities wherein Chinese students make up most of the foreign students .
*And vice chancellors are afraid of upsetting such a useful income stream. And thus the universities, which ought to be places of free and unrestricted debate, are the very place in which official Chinese voices have a stranglehold on what is said.
This is a hot issue and ought to remain so. In the words of the Americans in the 1970s: the power of the Chinese Communist Government has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.
CHINA’S AMBITION: A TAME AUSTRALIA
In earlier articles, I have tried to suggest the immense scope of China’s ambition. It’s clear that China has a grand plan to make itself as it once was, the Central Kingdom. That meant, the country the world was supposed to admire and look to for leadership in all things.
*And what do we see in Australia at the present? The Chinese are looking as if they are sweeping many parts of our society before them. The Chinese are filling many sought-after places in filling up selective schools in New South Wales. *And -as we saw before- they are dominating student politics at many Australian universities. Thus it looks as if China is achieving its long-awaited desire to show its power and control Australian thinking. It’s part of its plan to sweep around the Pacific and Indian Oceans, strip the USA of its allies and prepare for a world imperium. And remember, Xi has said that any Chinese person anywhere must march to the beat of the same drum (Hartcher, 2019).
*But in the light of the threat of domination by a foreign power not interested in human rights, Australians chatter about things of very small significance.
We argued for a year about gay marriage ; yet the vote on that issue changed public opinion barely at all. We are now seeing equally bitter arguments about abortion. We knock down native bushland, removing the habitat for thousands of unique native animals, which are one of the reasons for tourists to visit.
New South Wales wastes millions demolishing stadiums in Sydney and building toy light rail of questionable benefit and at enormous cost. And we construct apartments that look as if they will tumble down within twenty years.
Many Australians look with derision at the U.S.A. We see with increasing concern the perpetual motion of its political machine, the hopeless attempts to get a more sensible approach to guns, its trivia-loving and self-obsessed media. And worst of all, the tangled world of Trump and his wealthy pals.
Do we have any confidence that Trump knows what he is doing with his ‘building a wall’ obsession and his ideas about a trade war? Would Trump know what to do, if a full-blown recession hit U.S. farmers and city labourers hard? The rolling chaos and disruption going on in the USA plays into China’s hands.
China’s push into European ports worries some commentators
A trade war could be devastating to many, including U.S. working families. But Trump seem not to care. He seems to spend much of his time golfing, holding self-congratulatory rallies and tweeting his doubtful successes
But Australians should look closer to home. China is making its plans spring into action every week. As Shepard makes clear, those plans are not really meant for today – but for the next fifty and one hundred years.
Australia has a lot of work to do in building alliances and friendship with its neighbours.
This needs careful thought. Where should we look? Many of our neighbours are intensely Muslim, like Indonesia, which has a fairly tenuous democracy and many sources of instability in places like Aceh and West Papua. Malaysia, too, has problems, especially with corruption and inequality. Many of the Pacific countries could become useful allies, but are falling under China’s spell of debt and dependency: Vanuatu, Fiji, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Papua-New Guinea, Samoa.
*And in August, 2019, Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minister, carelessly alienated most of them by insisting that Australia wants to keep mining coal with no regard for the consequences for global warming.
China watched this whole performance with intense interest, for it has ambitions to extend its sway well into the Indo-Pacific.
We should be grateful to Mr. Hastie. Well might he blow the whistle. He is at least one politician loyal to his country, though so many others tell us not to upset powerful trading partners. There have been predictable howls of protest about racism. But in fact there is no Chinese race.
*Powerful people puff and blow and make noises about cold war rhetoric and so on. We should expect this reaction from official Chinese sources and their Australian supporters. But Australia needs to wake up. The dragon is at the gates. And we urgently need to lessen our dependence on China, in trade and in students coming to our universities.
*We need to make Australia’s priority its own citizens. Not worry about alienating a foreign power. And we need to take some solid steps to limit a government which is gaining more and more control over our daily lives.
Bonyhady, Nick (2019) “Chinese Students Dominate the Cradle of Australian Politics”, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 August.
Carey, Alexis (2019) “Fears One Million Aussie Homes Could Soon be Owned by Foreign Buyers”, news.com.au, 16 February.
Hartcher, Peter (2019) “Hastie’s Awakening to Xi’s Bid for Total Control of China-and Beyond”, Sydney Morning Herald, 10-11 August.
Hoole, Melanie (2019) “The Intricacies of Selling Property to Chinese Buyers”
Kakissis, Joanna (2018) “Chinese Firms Now Hold Stakes in Over a Dozen European Ports” , NPR, 9 October.
Lawler, Dave (2019) “China’s Blueprint for Global Dominance”, Axios , 9 April.
Massola, James (2019) “I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This” [Chinese money transforms a beach town in Cambodia], Sydney Morning Herald, 10-11 August.
West, Peter (2017) “What is a ‘Moral Panic’ and How is the Phrase used to Shut Down Debate? Some Examples and a Commentary on Chinese Influence in Australia”,
West, Peter (2017) “Shanghai Sam’s Fall Should Draw Attention to China’s Rise”, Researchgate, December.
West, Peter (2018) “ China and Australia: Hostile Invasion or Peaceful Penetration?” , Researchgate, March.
West, Peter (2019) “Hastie Warns us to Beware of the Chinese Dragon”, onlineopinion, 13 August.