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Morrison's problem with China

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Three Chinese warships docked in Sydney Harbour on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre (Screenshot via YouTube)

Tarric Brooker discusses PM Scott Morrison's meek response to the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. 

IN RECENT DAYS, almost two million people took to the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the proposed extradition treaty with mainland China. Despite the overwhelming odds against them and the very real threat of a violent crackdown by the Chinese Government, the people of Hong Kong have turned out en-masse to stand up for their freedom.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Scott Morrison – who likes to project the image of a PM that is the "blokiest" of blokes, capable of dealing with any issue that his Government may face – did not speak out. When confronted by the aggressive actions of Beijing, our self-proclaimed political strongman quickly backed down.

The bravery and courage on display by two in every seven citizens of Hong Kong, is a powerful affirmation that the human desire for freedom and self-determination will never be extinguished, no matter how heavy the odds and consequences for disobedience of an authoritarian regime.

As we watch on from afar the valour of the people of Hong Kong as the Chinese Government seeks to further stamp out the basic rights of its citizenry, one can’t help but think that our Government is once again missing in action.

Rather than sending Beijing a strong message that our nation would support the people of Hong Kong in their struggle for freedom and stand in solidarity with the Chinese Australians who escaped here as refugees, the Morrison Government’s response was a lesson in modern appeasement.

When confronted with the recent visit of three Chinese warships to Sydney, "coincidentally" overlapping with the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Morrison Government effectively stuck its head in the sand. Not even taking the time to warn the people of Sydney and the New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejklian, that they would be waking up to their views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House with a backdrop of Chinese warships, brimming with heavily armed soldiers on their decks.

This strategy of “appeasement” has drawn criticism from geopolitical analysts. 

Not even multiple confirmed reports of Australians being detained by the Chinese Government as part of the crackdown on Uygur Chinese Muslims have been able to coax the Morrison Government into action. With our fellow Australians being held in “re-education” camps without charge, for no reason other than their faith and ethnicity.

While Scott Morrison may like to project an image of a political strongman, a rival for the likes of Vladimir Putin, his inability to stand up to Beijing will continue to damage his leadership as, eventually, the Liberal Party room turns against him.

With discontent over Morrison’s leadership always brewing in the Liberal Party room, it may only be a matter of time before Morrison is forced to take a far tougher stance with Beijing, lest he becomes yet another Prime Minister who’s tenure ends before his term.

Tarric Brooker is a freelance journalist and political commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @AvidCommentator.

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