Australia risks ostracising it from the rest of Asia if it continues to stringently oppose China, writes Bruce Haigh.
THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT first discussed the need for a second airport in Sydney in 1969. A decision to locate it at Badgerys Creek was made by the Hawke Labor Government in 1986. 25 years later, the first earthworks were being undertaken, amidst the usual allegations of corruption and dirty dealing.
In China, eight new airports are being opened every year, with time from decision to final construction averaging two years. Why can’t Australia get its act together? Easy money would come from minerals, wheat, meat, tourism and students.
Sound Chinese investment is knocked back to please the U.S., who laugh at us behind closed doors.
Inaction and questionable dealings dominate the Coalition, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison encapsulates. Australia has never had a lazier Prime Minister and for him, money grows on trees. He, along with many of his contemporaries, have no idea about real work or the real economy.
The Government fears the dynamism of China. They fear the Chinese work ethic. The answer of the Coalition and those they mix with has been to embrace industrial-scale corruption; to use their political power to place themselves across the money trail. The dominant Murdoch media lets them off the hook, as long as the Coalition gives Rupert Murdoch what he wants, which they have, including taxpayers unreceipted dollars.
The Chinese are aware of this. The staff at their Embassy in Canberra are highly trained. More literate and intelligent than most members of Morrison’s cabinet, they read what is published as news, listen to the radio and watch television. They have come to the same conclusions that along with other embassies in Canberra. Like-minded embassies talk amongst themselves.
In addition, China monitors all news services reporting on Australia. They do this to most countries across the globe. The point is that they, on the whole, know us better than we know ourselves.
They also spy on us, as we do them, but they do it more effectively. And we also get information from the U.S., which is tainted. They put a spin on their intelligence to try and lock us into their view of China. And they have been successful, just as they were with Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Australian policymakers have an overwhelming desire not to take responsibility for foreign and defence policy, founded on an inferiority complex grounded in not believing in the unique and innate worth of the country they represent.
China is acutely conscious of this truth. They have watched and listened, and lost respect. Thoughtless and indeed arrogant attempts to excuse Morrison's poorly considered approach by Australian politicians and officials have only made matters worse.
From everything I have been able to glean, Xi Jinping thinks Morrison a fool and has written him off. He sees no hope of reviving the relationship while Morrison is in power, so the Chinese will not bother.
But they will take further punitive trade measures were Australia to make anti-China statements and undertakings.
The Australian Government has no idea of what is happening. China is cutting us loose. We will hang below Asia as neither fish nor fowl. Asia will also cut us loose. We have no understanding that China is the major power in the region, if not the world.
To put it crudely, in the absence of getting our own act together, we have to acknowledge them as we acknowledge the U.S. China seeks the same respect we give to the U.S.
Kurt Campbell, yet another U.S. Special Representative for the Indo-Pacific, has said the Biden Administration will not resume normal relations with the Chinese until they treat Australia better. We do not need the U.S. to conduct our foreign policy. The fact they think they can demonstrates how weak and ineffectual Morrison appears.
Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired diplomat.
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