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May 14, 2021

Thus Spake Mungo: China, China, CHINA!

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It may be a statement of the bleeding obvious, but a face off with the People’s Republic of China would not be a good idea.

From any perspective – military, economic, political, simple weight of numbers – Australia cannot hope to compete on a level playing field with our dominant neighbour.

And to pretend that somehow we should be seen as equal partners, as Scott Morrison is apparently urging, is a dangerous delusion. At best, we can never be more than a client trader – keen to deal with whatever China is willing to buy from us, and what we are desperate to buy from it.

So when our Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack trots out the old line about ‘China needs us as much as we need them’, it is not only silly but provocative. Apart from being demonstrably untrue, (Chinese investment in Australia has fallen from $16 billion to $2.5 billion since 2016) it is a feeble attempt to give our most important customer the finger in particularly fraught times.

So it behoves us to tread with caution, and when Beijing warns us to back off, kiddies, it cannot be dismissed as just a bit of diplomatic chit chat, however much the backbench crazies might wish it to be.

Nor is it simply what Morrison calls a list of 14 grievances, more of the same old demands over things such as Huawei and a COVID inquiry. The complaints go deeper, to what is obviously seen as a conscious anti-China agenda on the part of the Australian government.

Ominously, China’s foreign ministry is now using the word “enemy” in communiqués to and about Australia. But Morrison seems to think this is more of a challenge than a threat. His response remains that we are a sovereign country, our standards cannot be compromised, and we can bluff it out.

But Beijing is not just unrepentant, but positively proud of its relentless imposition of totalitarian rule on its hapless citizens.

Detention without trial or charge, forced labour, strict censorship, repression of minorities and the politically incorrect, physical and mental torture are the norm

Detention without trial or charge, forced labour, strict censorship, repression of minorities and the politically incorrect, physical and mental torture are the norm. This cannot be condoned.

But, around most of the world, it can be and generally is ignored. And there are times when it is better to be tactfully silent than to shout futile defiance.

No one is suggesting we lower our standards, which may not be impeccable but are obviously far less abusive than those of the Chinese, the most tyrannous regime on the planet.

But our own record is hardly beyond reproach and the Chinese are not averse to pointing this out. They have already targeted Australia’s failure to redress the inequalities across the Indigenous community, and now of course, they have extra ammunition with the highly convincing evidence of Australian war crimes in Afghanistan. This is not the best time to assume the high moral ground.

That does not mean that we have to negotiate on our knees. But as we have been repeatedly told, the relationship has to be managed with care. Respect is essential, and an acknowledgement of the manifest power imbalance.

Last week, in Tokyo, Morrison tried to secure an alliance of resistance with the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshishide Suga, and has been offered support for his stand by United States heavy hitters like Marco Rubio. Our departing emissary, Arthur B Culvahouse Jnr, has provided a farewell cheerio. But all this only underlines Australia’s own impotence.

When Morrison scrabbles for purchase, declaring that Australia’s actions should not be interpreted through the lens of the strategic competition between China and the United States, Beijing hears another message

So when Morrison scrabbles for purchase, declaring that Australia’s actions should not be interpreted through the lens of the strategic competition between China and the United States, Beijing hears another message: ‘China noticed  Prime Minister Morrison’s positive comments on the global influence of China’s economic growth and China’s poverty alleviation efforts,’ a Foreign Ministry spokesman noted approvingly. Tribute received and accepted.

And this is precisely the dilemma; Beijing obviously thinks we do have a choice and we have got to make it. We are either with them or against them – sitting on the barbed wire fence is not an option.

There is a lot of history in this. The Jade Empire has had a couple of centuries of having sand kicked its face by the colonial bully-boys of Europe, but now, if it is not quite yet the toughest kid on the block, it is bloody close to it. Time to kick back.

And giving Australia a gob full is entirely appropriate – even karmic. China’s own resources – economic, innovative, even spiritual – have been ruthlessly exploited by invaders. With Australia depending on China to do the exploiting and pay the bills, there is no better time to turn the screws.

So the news comes through that some 80 Australian coal ships have been held up indefinitely at Chinese ports. Owing to ‘environmental concerns’, explains Beijing, in what is no explanation at all. And there may be an element of that, but no one in Canberra doubts that this is really all about ramping up the political pressure. And the same applies to the wine tariffs, imposed in retaliation for improbable allegations of dumping.

Morrison is looking for the old comforters: rules based trade, nuance and accommodation, latitude and room to move. But his pleas are becoming more frantic

Morrison is looking for the old comforters: rules based trade, nuance and accommodation, latitude and room to move. But his pleas are becoming more frantic – methinks he doth protest too much.

‘It’s as if Australia does not have its own unique interests or its own views as an independent sovereign state,’ he implored. ‘This is just false. And worse, it needlessly deteriorates relationships.’ Well, not to the Chinese it doesn’t. That’s just the kind of relationship they like – the one where they win.

And let’s be honest, the relationship has seldom been entirely amiable. China has been seen as more of a threatening than a friendly neighbour. Long before it was rechristened during the cold war as The Red Menace, China loomed large over our future. There was always the fear that the teeming masses to the north would engulf us by the sheer force of gravity.

And the Chinese themselves? Mysterious, inscrutable – and therefore sinister – overtones of an undercover regime under the iron rule of the evil genius, Dr Fu Manchu. Or perhaps his successors; the current suspicion of hordes of cyber-hackers hidden behind secret vaults, tirelessly sabotaging and subverting Australia and its diplomatic allies has gained considerable purchase.

Inherent racism? Almost certainly. And this will be just another problem for Morrison as he tries to reframe a confrontation that he may wish to end, but his antagonist is happy to pursue to its inevitable conclusion.


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34 COMMENTS

  1. All too true, Mungo. ScoMo ain’t bright enough to put the numbers together. I do
    well remember the Cold War – China has & always will be bedded in control mode
    since that’s how it has always worked. We accepted The Red Menance sayings
    then but we need not slyly imply we are better than they are now & expect a pat on
    the head because we’ve been out-smarted simply by hooking-up to Trump’s likes
    & dislikes. This had to happen. Australia needs to support its own industries &
    quit the racism bit & stop relying on the US of A… they’re half-way down the plug
    -hole as well as we are.

  2. Obviously Mungo was happy to be bullied in his past life! One thing he doesn’t mention is that maybe like China we should have two faces and be doing one thing while being seen to do something altogether different. What cost values?

  3. Mungo has summed up the relationship with China expertly.
    At last a journo who is prepared to tell it ‘like it is’ without the jingoistic nonsense we get from the MSM

  4. All cogently argued Mungo But it seems that you, and more especially’ Scotty from marketing’ seem to be forgetting, is that “You can’t talk to a man With a shotgun in his hand” especially when “he don’t want to understand”. We, the british went to war and forced China ,very much against it’s will, to accept opium, grown by the “Honourable East India Company (HEIC),” in India by the british, as payment for it’s exports to England. They were not happy then, and will avenge their humiliation, the teeming masses there, were the reason Australia implemented the “White Australia Policy” was this “Inherent racism?” No ! it was merely the perceived reality that China could overwhelm this little British dependency anytime it wanted. And… Now it does !
    Cheers G”)

    • Exactly Ken. Those who don’t know their history are bound to repeat it.

      It’s not China’s fault that lazy Australians were silly enough to put all their economic eggs in one basket.

      Scamo still hasn’t twigged that you can’t force people to shake your hand, or apologise, no matter how loud you shout at them.

      A little respect may have worked miracles, but Scamo doesn’t seem to know what that is.

  5. Wolf, our parliament is ‘two faced’ – and don’t we know it. How many faces has
    Trump? Latest news is the fool is saying there’s conspiracy against him by the
    FBI, The Justice Department & the Federal Court System – that all 3 are
    complicit thus creating a cover-up for election fraud. Let us look after our own
    sanity & start to get stuck into what needs doing in The Land of OZ. China was
    not going to continue supporting us as the time has lapsed & it’s too late for that.
    New markets are needed – get ScoMo to create ’em. By that I don’t mean coal
    & such.

  6. Funny that this doesn’t address the obvious thoughts and incredibly devious actions of a world superpower to create a new feedlot for their population at the expense of AU dollars. We do have what THEY need and this will become more obvious as renewables take front stage. They have depleted, ruined and polluted and continue to do so. They print money and buy whatever they want without restriction because of ‘economic stability’. Do you see the empty cities of the YEN???
    If you want money, give in. If you want a future where we can still afford a house, stand firm.
    Communism V Democracy. Does anyone see the actual arguement here?

  7. He can spin it as much as he likes but Morrison and Birmingham must be terrible naive or thick skinned if they thinks their demonising, sabre rattling and taunting of China relating to a range of issues has nothing to do with the recent trade dispute. If China abandoned us we would be an economic wasteland. Never bite the hand that feeds you! In these dire economic times one would think he would just shut up and count the money. Oh and where are the Un Nationals on all of this stoutly defending their farming families? Invisible as usual!

  8. It is so bleeding obvious, as if Mike Tyson hit us on the nose. A face off with the People’s Republic of China, has left us shuddering right down to our toes.

  9. “Detention without trial or charge, forced labour, strict censorship, repression of minorities and the politically incorrect, physical and mental torture are the norm. This cannot be condoned.

    But, around most of the world, it can be and generally is ignored. And there are times when it is better to be tactfully silent than to shout futile defiance”

    Only someone that is morally bankrupt could write such words.

    • The Chinese government’s lack of morals and human rights abuses have always been well known-that didn’t stop corporations, and our governments, falling all over themselves to trade with them.

      Chickens are coming home to roost big time and we’ll pay a price.

  10. A Chinese man on holiday in Australia asked.
    What is it with your Govt, they have allowed your greedy corporations to transfer all your business and jobs to China.Now you have no businesses or jobs, this is crazy.
    Your Govt and businesses have utterly failed Australia so badly.
    That is the problem Australia faces and it’s getting worse every day the Morrison faction LNP and near useless independents selling out Australia sit, twiddling their fingers and of course the Morrison happy clapping appointments everywhere are not helping one bit. Is there anything Morrison hasn’t stuffed up.
    PS, Morrison has done nothing about any of the litany of catastrophes he and he alone is responsible for. We are headed for absolute disaster the longer he fails us!
    Did any of you see Parliament and the Senate question time get shut down again yesterday as it does every day it sits? The Govt simply refuses to answer any opposition question, making a mockery of our Parliament. Take a look today and see the unaccountable nontransparent insult that is the Morrison faction. It reminds of the last dying days of the equally out of control unaccountable nontransparent QLD LNP Bjelke-Petersen Govt.

    • When ScamMO is ready to invade China, we can base operations from the Port of Darwin, NOT, – Australia gave it away to China for $500millions and China said, xie xie..

  11. I now realize why I have this ‘off-put feeling’ each & every time I see or
    listen to our 1984 Leader. Bjelke’s come back in the body of ScoNo.

    • Stefanie, ‘now, don’t you worry about that’ and ‘If you’re not with me, you’re agin me’ and on they roll, yes. It’s feeding time by ScamMO, ‘feeding the chooks’!

  12. Quoting Sophie Scholl as China is the 21st century manifestation of Nazism-Fascism- yet we all stay quiet sadly so: ” Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go… What does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

    Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go… What does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?

      • Yes Joachim you are for once correct !!
        How this came to be is beyond belief.
        No different to selling the polls and wires .
        Both the Coalition and Labor are guilty
        Of selling out this country !! How many
        Countries will allow foreigners to purchase
        Freehold very few. !! Shame on you all politicians.

  13. We don’t have a government, we have a pretend one, Barrow so it’s hard to say.
    The one we have gave the land away for fodder. That Gove did well on bribes &
    thought the ‘gifting’ would go on forever. Time caught up with the cash ‘n carry as
    many of us in OZ expected. All too easy. Any twit could see it coming. We won’t
    support China’s politics – no-one right-in-the-head would. Realize we don’t need
    a W.W. 3 either.

  14. ScuMo is a serial liar but Labor is too gutless to call him out. In fact very early in his leadership Albo chastised his mob and told them ‘the lie word must not be used’. I wonder how Albo feels now after lie after lie after lies rolls off ScuMo’s and his Ministers’ tongues? Every time ScuMo lies he should be called out….. “What you have said regarding X after fact checking Prime Minister is a blatant lie. When will you stop lying and start telling the truth?”. If he is called out often enough, he will be found out like Trump has been and may suffer the same result. Its not gonna happen though. Not with this bunch of softies. The Liberals never stood back though when they were in Opposition.

  15. You are right, Ray. When Albo started to ‘speak out’ so many applauded. Within a
    week he’d ‘shut up’. Whose idea was that? For the fate of the country – for God’s
    sake- Albo, “talk the truth as you know it.” You are aware we have a slippery-lip
    liar screwing up our future & treating the voters like brainless mugs. If you don’t
    want to lead then step down. This is the most ‘crucial time in our history’ & it will
    take guts to get the truth into headlines. Labor’s better than that & so are its
    supporters. We’ve got Trump no 2 on our hands… deal with it! Next – regarding
    the Mungo rumor – it doesn’t surprise me. If I had an opposition I was trying to
    defend it would be odds on I’d be thinking of the time I’ve taken defending
    Labor when it sat on its hands & did bugger all.

  16. Ah – ScoMo’s doings just appeared in my lap from ‘last year’. $5,000 of taxpayers’
    money was billed on aircraft cost for world wind trip from Canberra to Sydney &
    back to attend Lochlan Murdoch’s xmas party at Bellevue Hills soiree while Sydney
    was covered in smoke. ScoMo & Ftying-burg attended. Dutton was aboard as well
    but no-one’s sure where he went. [I reckon the bushfire smoke would have gone-
    down well.]

    • What is about air travelllings and The Liarberals. If it isn’t Bronnie and her helicopter shenanigans; the Conman and his VIPing all over Europa for ‘personal employment’ – why didn’t he ring his mates at Helloworld for his Europa flyover job; then it is this latest ‘partyboys’ jetting jaunt over to Lachie’s palace….Debt, Deficit, Budget Emergency, We all in this together…PFTT.

  17. Air-craft isn’t affordable. Hoof it! The lot of you! Glad needs a track-suit & a
    Saint Vinnies pair of walkers. Dutton ‘n CO, scooters from the tip & Laborites
    a seeing-eye-dog for a wake-up call. All Murdoch ‘xmas partying’ is off the
    map, right. And while I’m at it… don’t think twice about leaving the country!

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