The headless chook of Australian China policy runs on today. First, some sensible news on Japan, via the AFR:
Australia and Japan are expected to reach agreement on a deal to facilitate larger and more regular joint military exercises, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Darwin later this week, as China increases its influence in the region.
Mr Abe, who will be the first prime minister to visit Darwin since Japan bombed the city in World War II, also plans to inspect the massive $US40 billion Ichthys gas project, Japan’s biggest ever foreign investment, which last month shipped its first LNG cargo.
Japan and Australia first started negotiating a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) – which will streamline administrative and legal procedures for Australian and Japanese forces moving in and out of either country with equipment for military exercises – in 2014.
Dan Andrews has also capitulated on his secret deal with Beijing, via The Australian:
Victoria and China have agreed to create a “new momentum” for sharing knowledge and “unimpeded trade” as Premier Daniel Andrews caved into pressure to release the state’s agreement to support China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
…Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings savaged Mr Andrews for signing the agreement, saying it was the equivalent of a state government signing a defence treaty.
…“It is a bit of a cookie-cutter document but the jurisdiction is wrong; this is something that should not have been signed on a state level,” Mr Jennings said.
“The document talks about the two powers using diplomatic channels.
“Victoria doesn’t have diplomatic channels. It doesn’t have a foreign affairs establishment.”
…The four-page agreement states that Victoria and China will “work together” with the BRI to promote the “connectivity” of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people. It also acknowledges Victoria is “welcoming and supporting” China’s BRI.
Pretty absurd given the federal government sees BRI as sharp power projection against Australia’s national interests. Unless Victoria plans to secede the document should be quietly burned.
The excellent Alex Joske describes CCP activities Downunder:
In 2009, a student called Wang Xiangke came to the Australian National University as a visiting PhD scholar. It was a year after the Olympic torch relay passed through Canberra, attracting thousands of Chinese students who organised with the Chinese embassy to protect the so-called sacred flame.
…Wang’s story is just one among those of the estimated 2500 scientists and engineers “selected” by the Chinese military to study and work abroad in the last decade. This global phenomenon is detailed in my report for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, “Picking flowers, making honey: the Chinese military’s collaboration with foreign universities”.
…Using Chinese-language sources and analysis of papers published by Chinese military scientists, the report presents the first detailed analysis of the nature and scale of the PLA’s presence in overseas universities and research institutes. It finds that the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and Germany are, in that order, the top countries for research collaboration with the PLA, by number of co-authored papers.
…Per capita, though, the situation is particularly extreme in Australia. Australian collaboration with the PLA has produced over 600 peer-reviewed articles and has likely involved around 300 Chinese military scientists coming to Australia as PhD students or visiting scholars. Australia engages in the most research collaboration with the PLA among Five Eyes nations on a per capita basis, at six times the level of that in the US.
…My report recommends that they work together to advance scientific progress and foster cooperation while ensuring that any research collaboration is in the national interest. The Australian government can start by developing a clear policy on collaboration with the Chinese military – a policy that should inform legislative and other responses.
The government has a number of tools at its disposal for dealing with the PLA’s activities. The Defence Trade Controls Act, which is currently undergoing a review described as “timely and necessary” by one expert, could be amended to restrict transfers of sensitive technologies, which include training, to members of non-allied militaries such as the PLA when they’re in Australia.
…If we can’t properly manage and control this collaboration with the Chinese military, then we can’t claim to have a healthy relationship with China.
And Domainfax also adds a very long and excellent expose on Australian national Sheri Yan, alleged UN bribery puppet master.
But what do you do when blokes like Beijing Bob constantly bury the threat:
Does China represent a military threat to Australia? Like 82 per cent of Australians I believe it doesn’t. Would I be happier if China were a multi-party democracy with primary elections every four years in Shandong and Guangdong? You bet. Apart from anything else it would be sensationally entertaining. But it will not arrive because of Western lectures but because middle-class Chinese insist on pluralism. In the meantime, I’ve expressed my disappointment at the abandonment of the two-term limit on Chinese leaders and adhered to the same tack on human rights in China that all our foreign ministers have taken.
At the University of Technology Sydney last Thursday I and two colleagues met a delegation from the China Academy of Social Studies. I told them China’s Belt and Road Initiative needed global standards of transparency and a flow of specific projects. That, I said, was the Australian consensus. I then laid out the Australian position on the South China Sea – for the rule of law, no pre-emptive moves, no militarisation – in the same language as anyone in the Australian government, even in 2017. An anti-China fanatic bugging the meeting could cherry-pick my opening remarks praising the BRI’s focus on roads and bridges. Or me saying Australia won’t run freedom of navigation patrols.
Here is what the Lowy Poll said on China which is much more nuanced:
Almost three-quarters of Australian adults (72%, up from 56% in 2014) say the Australian government is ‘allowing too much investment from China’. As in previous years, a significant minority (46%) say it is ‘likely that China will become a military threat to Australia in the next 20 years’. Asked why, the strongest agreement was with the statement ‘China and the United States are likely to come into conflict in the future and Australia will end up being drawn into the conflict through its alliance with the United States’ (77% agreeing).
More than eight in ten (82%) Australians see China as ‘more of an economic partner’ than a ‘military threat’ (up three points since 2017). More than half (55%) see China as the world’s leading economic power, compared with 29% who see the United States this way.
Around eight in ten (81%) Australians say ‘it is possible for Australia to have a good relationship with China and a good relationship with the United States at the same time’.
Give up your compromised think tank, Bob, then we can talk.
Meanwhile, in the background, Cold War 2.0 continues to ramp, via the AFR:
US Vice-President Mike Pence will continue the Trump administration’s assault on China’s “authoritarianism and aggression”, using a speech in Australia’s backyard to business chiefs to outline the US’s rival vision for the Indo-Pacific that extols the superiority of private investment over state-controlled funding to build regional infrastructure.
With Donald Trump opting to skip the East Asia and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits this week, Mr Pence and the President’s hardline national security adviser John Bolton will travel to Singapore and Papua New Guinea to push back against Beijing’s attempt to assert its influence on both economic and security fronts.
Mr Pence will also hold a series of bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other key regional leaders, but the centrepiece of his trip is a speech at the APEC chief executive forum on Saturday morning in Port Moresby. Mr Pence will deliver his speech just minutes after Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the forum, which Mr Morrison will also address.
The headless chook runs on.