Both sides in Canberra should ensure Australia stands united in facing the CCP’s threats
What is remarkable, says Peter Jennings, is the ability of so many in Australia to deny what is obvious about Beijing’s intentions. Jennings, Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director, rightly believes that Beijing’s global policy of bullying, brinkmanship, and backdown is driving the Indo-Pacific closer to conflict.
What is clear is that this is not the time for politicians to be starry-eyed about Beijing’s real intentions or to engage in appeasement. The accusation by Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong that the Morrison government is endangering our relationship with China by using “alarmist rhetoric” for “domestic political gain” is a step back to the naïve accommodation that politicians on both sides here and overseas have far too often shown in relation to Communist China.
This has at times been worse than appeasement. So many politicians and other elites in business, the academy, and the media have been dazzled by the gold that Beijing offers both because of the size of the market and the ignored existence of a beaten-down, fearful, cowering, and impoverished labour force, which everyone knows or ought to know includes slave labour.
That we are far too economically dependent on China is the result of both sides being far too naïve in relation to the intentions of what were and have always been ruthless, cruel autocrats with an agenda for worldwide domination. This is, after all, what Marxism really is, whether or not it is with “Chinese characteristics.”
Perhaps the very worse thing about this was on the part of those who pledged to protect the rights of Australian workers, and in particular, Ms. Wong’s Labor Party. In their relatively modern obsession about free trade—which would have outraged the founders of the Australian Labor Party and all in its pantheon of heroes—they were prepared to allow that Australian business rely on the comparative advantage the communists in Beijing hold given their abandonment of the most elementary industrial standards and international humanitarian law. This is one of the essential pillars of success that Communist China can claim, most of which has been garnered by the multi-billionaires among its communist party members.
The politicians could not have been ignorant of this fact. Yet they encouraged Australian businesses to take advantage of it, even if it led to the export of our manufacturing and therefore Labor voters’ jobs to the so-called “workers’ paradise.”
With Prime Minister Scott Morrison playing down Beijing’s threats as theatrics, it is fortunate indeed that we have in the defence portfolio at long last a realist, one Peter Dutton, who is showing considerable strength in both standing up to the communist threat and restoring morale to the defence forces.
For far too long the politicians―and not only in Australia—have been duped at every stage by the communists.
The Morrison government was absolutely right in proposing an inquiry into the origins of the Wuhan virus but completely wrong in letting that go to the communist-dominated World Health Organisation. It should have been considered by an international tribunal that could have been constructed while there was one of those rare presidents in the White House willing to stand up to the communists, President Donald Trump. That tribunal could have been empowered to find liability in relation to how the virus became so widespread and to assess any consequent damages.
On this, we should never forget that there are in Australia vast assets, premium and strategic, which unlike most other foreign investment are, in the ultimate analysis, under the control of an alien political entity, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). These could be properly accessed to recover any damages.
While it only took the much-maligned Neville Chamberlain a few months to realise that he had been duped by the Nazis at Munich, and not to repeat his error in relation to Poland, how long will it take some politicians to realise what was always obvious—that Beijing is a hostile and dangerous power that, when it is convenient, will disregard international law and morality?
This dates from at least the insertion of a communist army of so-called “volunteers” against the United Nations operation in Korea and the takeover of the peaceful Tibetans. More recent examples have been the dismissal of the binding arbitral decision concerning the South China Sea and its affective annexation, and its aggression against India, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
That the CCP has no regard for international treaty obligations has been demonstrated in relation to the law of the sea, the several obligations it accepted when the Clinton administration allowed it to join the World Trade Organisation, and the treaty with the United Kingdom in a Joint Declaration concerning Hong Kong.
In addition, there is the Free Trade Agreement with Australia that is being breached outrageously by a continuing series of trade sanctions, official and unofficial, such as those in relation to barley, beef, lamb, coal, lobsters, cotton, and timber, to name a few. It is likely that tourism and international education will be blocked or reduced.
Above all, there are the constant threats of war over Taiwan and the aggressive incursions into Taiwanese airspace
On this, we should note that the period up to 2024 is no doubt seen as a window of opportunity by Beijing. This, of course, is the presidential term of Joe Biden who, as vice president, has a long record of being an appeaser to hostile powers, especially at the time of the annexation of the South China Sea.
At a time when Australia is subjected to threats of sanctions and, in the communist controlled media, even war, and when there is a massive build-up of CCP armed forces at a time when there is no military threat against them, all Australian politicians should be coming together.
This should be not only to correct their serious error over more than a decade and, on both sides, in making this nation so economically dependent on Beijing. They should all ensure that united we stand up to the threats and intimidation of the CCP and that we are well prepared should, against all our hopes, there is an outbreak of hostilities.
David Flint, a former chairman of the Australian Press Council, the Australian Broadcasting Authority, and the World Association of Press Councils is an emeritus professor of law.