Geoff Raby joins the China apologists gathering under the skirts of Malcolm Turnbull’s recent China kowtowing speech today:
It is telling that the Prime Minister chose to make his speech when his Foreign Minister was out of the country. Management of the relationship was just too important to be left to the Foreign Minister to carry and whose department has, on China policy, been marginalised by Canberra’s security, defence and intelligence establishment.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s attack on the PM’s initiative to try to get relations back on track is self-serving. Far from kowtowing to China, the PM showed a rare streak of statesmanship. Rudd may still be smarting at Turnbull’s refusal to back him for the UN Secretary-General job.
…But there are risks to this return to normality. Despite the PM’s speech, Canberra remains deeply conflicted over how Australia should view and deal with China. In the past, the PM has stated that Australia did not see China as a strategic rival. This did not prevent him or his Foreign Minister acting as if it were.
And what, exactly, does Mr Geoff Raby get out his relentless support for China in Australia? This:
What does he do for them? This:
Based in Beijing, Geoff Raby & Associates advises and enables Australian and Chinese businesses to capture opportunities and values across cultural and geographic boundaries.
GRA’s strong relationships with senior leaders in government and corporations in China gives the company unique and publicly unavailable insights and knowledge about a broad spectrum of issues.
With expertise and experience across Australia, Hong Kong and Greater China, GRA’s multilingual expert staff is a well of knowledge for its clients, providing understanding about the inner workings of senior corporate management and government relations.
From the grand halls of Beijing diplomacy to the one-room offices of tiny Chinese towns, GRA’s staff have over 20 years of understanding and frontline experience in China’s growth and development.
That’s more than fair enough. But is it a frank and fearless platform from which to critique everybody else’s personal biases on China? Is it even a platform from which it is appropriate to comment on relations?
No doubt Mr Raby believes what he says but this is the problem in Australia’s China debate. There is no “normal” to which to return. There is only a swath of interests that are amplified in the debate by Chinese-related capital in one form or another versus those that would stick their heads up and question how far Australian democracy has been penetrated and unduly influenced by the same dough. For their trouble the latter often get their heads knocked off in our own courts by China-funded legal actions.
There may be a China reset to be had. It might involve improved relations than today. But it must put Australian sovereignty and democracy first or it is doomed to sink the relationship entirely.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.
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