Yves here. The headline is plenty provocative, but as the post indicates, this idea has become a hot topic in the Intelligence Committee in Australia’s Parliament, and Australia has reason to be attentive.
Before you consider the point of view to be hyperbolic, consider this take from an ex-McKinsey colleague:
I’ve been to China often, built a factory there in the early 2000s, and our youngest son recently returned from working there (he’s fluent in Mandarin). Last fall Jane and I went to Xinjiang, the westernmost province of China, where the silk road enters China. That region and its capital, Kashgar, has gotten lots of recent press because of the oppression of the Uighur minority. It’s worse than most press describe. It’s a police state like the storm troopers of Star Wars.
Mind you, it’s not as if the US nation-breaking program is very nice either, but China’s methods should not get a free pass.
By David Llewellyn-Smith, founding publisher and former editor-in-chief of The Diplomat magazine, now the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics website. Originally published at MacroBusiness
So says Andrew Hastie, head of Parliament’s powerful intelligence committee:
“That intellectual failure makes us institutionally weak.
“If we don’t understand the challenge ahead for our civil society, in our parliaments, in our universities, in our private enterprises, in our charities – our little platoons – then choices will be made for us. Our sovereignty, our freedoms, will be diminished.
“The West once believed that economic liberalisation would naturally lead to democratisation in China. This was our Maginot Line. It would keep us safe, just as the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940. But their thinking failed catastrophically. The French had failed to appreciate the evolution of mobile warfare.
“Like the French, Australia has failed to see how mobile our authoritarian neighbour has become. Even worse, we ignore the role that ideology plays in [Beijing’s] actions across the Indo-Pacific region.
“Our argument is not with the Chinese people themselves. We have many, many things in common, and we have many Chinese Australians here making a really invaluable contribution to our social fabric”.
A timely warning. The Maginot Line is a useful metaphor. But also a little misleading. CPC China has more in common with the Soviet Union and its system of gulags than it does the Nazis and its extermination camps.
That said, we’re only seeking to define differences in evil here, not kind. If you asked a Uighur or Tibetan, they wouldn’t care which label you used.
Angry China wasted no time in responding via its embassy:
“We strongly deplore the Australian federal MP Andrew Hastie’s rhetoric on ‘China threat’ which lays bare his Cold-War mentality and ideological bias.
“History has proven and will continue to prove that China’s peaceful development is an opportunity, not a threat to the world.
“We urge certain Australian politicians to take off their ‘coloured lens’ and view China’s development path in an objective and rational way.
“They should make efforts to promote mutual trust between China and Australia, instead of doing the opposite.”
I suggest the CPC simply do what it says it does and leave Australian sovereignty alone. Then we can do the same.
Meanwhile, the Fake Left Guardian, which just loves a multicultural tyrant, struck back with Labor’s China lackeys:
On Thursday Labor’s shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said Hastie’s comments were “extraordinary … extreme, overblown and unwelcome”.
Chalmers told Radio National Australia had to “navigate what are pretty complex and multilayered issues – to weigh up all of the economic, strategic and national security interests. And I think this type of intervention makes that task harder, not easier.”
He called on Morrison to clarify “whether this type of language is the government’s view or whether there are divisions in the government over the management of this really important relationship”.
Morrison told reporters in Townsville that Australia would “continue to have a cooperative arrangement with China” that was “far broader than just the economic [relationship]”.
“But equally our relationship with the United States is a very special one indeed and there’s a deep connection on values.
Hastie is responding to Chinese infiltration and corruption activities in Australian politics. He has every right to be angry about it. Not to mention, it has been grotesquely underplayed in the media from the beginning in some whacko effort to placate the CPC.
Good on him. As Malcolm Turnbull said, sunlight is the cure.