Via The Australian comes worsening electioneering around Labor and China. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said:
…“I note Labor have distanced themselves from the remarks but Paul Keating is not an isolated figure in terms of … Bob Carr and others who sit within the (Labor) ranks,” the Trade Minister said during an election debate in Adelaide yesterday.
…The accusation infuriated Senator Wong, who attacked Senator Birmingham as “really desperate” and refused to shake his hand at the debate’s conclusion.
…The stoush followed a warning by a former US spy chief…Former US National Security Agency and Cyber Command chief Michael Rogers told an audience of Australia’s top military and intelligence leaders at an Australian Strategic Policy Institute dinner this week: “We’ve been mates for a long time — I don’t want to lose that. We have tended to take this relationship for granted for some time. My view is that isn’t going to work for us any more.”
Penny Wong is right to be pissed off. Her recent speech was a hawkish declaration on Labor’s China outlook:
The China relationship is a critical relationship for Australia – it is both complex and consequential.
Many of the current pressures will persist.
At times our interests will differ.
And challenges in the relationship may intensify.
It is not simply a matter of a “diplomatic reset.”
Fundamentally, we are in a new phase in the relationship.
First, we don’t pre-emptively frame China only as a threat.
Second, we must be grounded in the realities.
China is not a democracy nor does it share our commitment to the rule of law.
Differences between our systems and values will inevitably affect the nature of our interactions.
But those realities include the fact that China will remain important to Australia’s prosperity.
And that China will be critical to the shape and character of the entire region.
In fact it is hard to think of an important issue for Australia’s future where China will not be an influential player.
We also recognise that China has a right to develop, and a right to a role in the region alongside other regional powers.
Third, we need to consider the relationship as a whole.
The idea of an economic-strategic bifurcation was never really accurate, and certainly is not now.
A Labor Government will protect Australia’s interests and values – this means there will be occasions where decisions may not accord with China’s preferences.
However, her party has no such luxury. Labor greybeards have done a lot of damage in recent years with their China…ahem…activities. The NSW Right has been appalling in its dealings with alleged and exiled Communist Party of China (CCP) agent of influence Huang Xiangmo. Bob Carr has been an outright China apologist. John Brumby didn’t help. Not to mention the double dealing played by Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese a few days ago.
Yes, the LNP has its own questions to answer with Peter Dutton also dining with Huang Xiangmo and Andrew Robb gallivanting around in Chinese undies up north. There are donations all over the joint too.
But Labor made this bed, and Paul Keating set it afire, so it’s going to have to lie in it.