As HK dies, what is ScoMo’s plan for the Communist Party of China?

Hong Kong is in its last battle for survival, via Bloomberg:

Hong Kong braced for rare strikes and further protests amid an escalating standoff over a controversial bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China.

Local companies said they would suspend work or allow flexible office hours on Wednesday to accommodate workers planning to demonstrate near the city’s Legislative Council, which will meet to debate amendments. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, a pro-democracy labor group, and several student associations urged members to join the strike and reprise a protest Sunday that drew hundreds of thousands.

The government said it opposed the student strike. It urged schools to make their pupils’ safety a priority and respect different opinions, Hong Kong’s Under Secretary for Education Choi Yuk Lin told reporters.

Peter Hartcher reckons it is futile:

On the face of it, the people turned out in such force to oppose a proposed law to allow Beijing to take people across the border to stand trial in Chinese mainland courts. The people marched under the banner “No extradition to China”. But in reality their concern is bigger. It is that this will be the “last fight” for Hong Kong’s remaining freedoms, in the words of the former legislator Martin Lee, nicknamed Hong Kong’s “father of democracy”.

Because mainland China does not have an independent judiciary and citizens have no rights. China’s courts are simply political. Anyone can be tried at the will of the authorities, and inevitably found guilty if that is the wish of the political leadership. If this law is passed in Hong Kong, Beijing could concoct trumped-up charges against anyone it chose. Dissenters could disappear across the border. Permanently.

But if the people of Hong Kong are indeed in their “last fight”, it seems to be lost. How so? Because, first, the Hong Kong government said so. About 11pm on the night of the peaceful mass rally, hours after nearly all the demonstrators had gone home, the government declared that it would be proceeding to put the extradition law to the local legislature as planned.

The leading edge of the trend towards great Communist Party of China control has also arrived in Australia. First, the CPC directly threatened the Australian Chinese diaspora yesterday thought its media foghorn:

According to foreign reports, similar demonstrations on a smaller scale have taken place in some cities in countries such as Australia. In Western societies, if some forces want to hold such political demonstrations and there are organizations ready to foot the bill,  it is easy to stage such shows.

It is worth noting that some international forces have increasingly collaborated with the opposition in Hong Kong. Two opposition groups visited the US in March and May to notify the US about the government’s decision to amend the extradition law. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met both groups. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met some in May and claimed the amendment threatened the rule of law in Hong Kong.

The governments of UK and Canada released a joint statement at the end of May about the proposed changes in Hong Kong’s proposed extradition law. Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor, said on June 6 that the proposed extradition bill will undermine Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial hub. While Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam insists the bill is necessary to plug legal loopholes, Patten trashed the argument, calling it “absolute nonsense.”

For some time, a decreasing number of people in Hong Kong have shown their will to participate in street politics. More people have been supportive of the government’s measures to implement the policy of “one country, two systems.” Nonetheless, Western countries more actively point an accusing finger at Hong Kong affairs, instigating the opposition to create more chaos.

Washington has been particularly active in meddling in Hong Kong affairs. Radical politicians such as Marco Rubio have said that the US should rethink providing Hong Kong trade and economic privileges. Obviously, the US is trying to use Hong Kong affairs to pressure China. Some radical opposition members in Hong Kong are hand- in-glove with the US.

But from a historical point of view, the waves they created are just bubbles in the air. The future of Hong Kong will not be held hostage by the opposition and their supporters. The amendments to the extradition law are still under legislation, which is just and Hong Kong SAR government and society should not abandon their efforts.

Yesterday I also described the chaotic debate that has erupted in Canberra between defence and security officials on one hand and parliamentarians on the other, surrounding the Australian response to deteriorating relations between the US and China. I noted the debate is as raucous as any national interest discourse that I can recall. Out of control we might describe it.

In one sense this is not unusual. Sticking our heads between our legs and hoping for the best has been the defining approach to the great power tension at the heart of our external relations since John Howard.

Yet in another way it is very odd. ScoMo’s predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, put the nation very strongly onto the front foot on the issue. Turnbull pushed back rhetorically and with policy, and was defining a clear path forward to reassure both our great and powerful friends of Australia’s position, and Australians themselves that the Government would protect their interests. In his 2017 speech he said:

The Legislation

The legislation I am introducing today is designed to reinforce the strengths of our open democratic system while shoring up its vulnerabilities.

I mentioned earlier that our Counter Foreign Interference Strategy has four pillars: sunlight, enforcement, deterrence and capability.

Of these, sunlight is at the very centre.

To ensure activities are exposed to sunlight, following an extensive review by the Attorney-General, we are introducing a new Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme.

The principle is quite straightforward.

If a person or entity engages with the Australian political landscape on behalf of a foreign state or principal then they must register accordingly.

This will give the Australian public and decision-makers proper visibility when foreign states or individuals may be seeking to influence Australia’s political processes and public debates.

The link could be a financial relationship or some other form of arrangement.

Registration requirements are carefully structured so that the closer you get to the heart of Australian politics, the more likely it is that you must register.

Being registered under the scheme should not be seen as any kind of taint. And certainly not as a crime.

To the contrary it is applying the basic principles of disclosure to allow the public and policymakers to assess any underlying agenda.

But if you fail to disclose your ties to a foreign principal then you could be liable for a criminal offence.

This is not about shutting down legitimate debate, but rather enabling it.

Interference, espionage and sabotage

Sunlight is the most reliable disinfectant but it will not be sufficient on its own.

We are also introducing, for the first time, offences for acts of foreign interference. Addressing a clear gap, we will criminalise covert, deceptive and threatening actions by persons acting on behalf of, or in collaboration with, a foreign principal aiming to influence Australia’s political processes or prejudice our national security.

Acts of foreign interference are often intertwined with espionage.

But our espionage laws are so unwieldy they have not supported a single conviction in decades, even as the threat reaches unprecedented levels.

So we will also introduce a range of carefully structured espionage offences as well as new provisions for secrecy, sabotage and treason.

Any one of these three pieces of legislation—the foreign donations legislation, which Senator Cormann will introduce into the Senate, transparency, and interference-related criminal offences, would mark an enormous improvement in our ability to counter foreign interference.

Together, they add up to the most important overhaul of our counterintelligence legislative framework since the 1970s.

They should be seen as interlocking components. All are important and none will fully succeed without the others.

Finally, we need a central hub to not only enforce the law but do so in a way that maximises deterrence.

This is where our new Home Affairs portfolio will come in.

There is no national security threat outside war time that demands an integrated all-of-government capability like this one.

By enacting this legislation, and building the capability to properly use it, we are sending an unmistakable signal:

We will not allow foreign states to use our freedoms to erode freedom; our open democracy to subvert democracy; our laws to undermine the rule of law.

The centrepiece of the all-of-government push to deal with CPC influence was the creation of the National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator with Home Affairs under former ASIO honcho Chris Teal:

The National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator delivers an effective, efficient and consistent national response to foreign interference by providing a focal point for coordinating policy and program development and leading engagement with private sector areas.

Alas, afterwards, the office has not been funded properly. What should be a half billion dollar operation to ensure the Australian Government is operating as single entity in its dealings with the Communist Party of China (CPC) is instead a dozen under-resourced people.

For juxtaposition, imagine if we were being so slipshod on counter-terrorism, which has a similar National Coordinator to bring together all government efforts into cogent policy making.

The man in charge of the putative plan is Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Why has he not gotten the National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator properly funded and deployed as the US/China Cold War has intensified? Does he really have any higher priority task? Is he too busy worrying about media coverage?

It’s not like he does not have first hand experience on the need. It is matter of record that the Minister hobnobbed with an alleged Communist Party of China (CPC) agent of influence in 2016, via the ABC:

Monday’s Four Corners-Age-Sydney Morning Herald investigation reported that Mr Dutton, immigration minister at the time, in 2015, approved a private citizenship ceremony for Mr Huang’s family, who were due to travel overseas.

Mr Dutton justifies the special treatment as being in response to a request from then Labor senator Sam Dastyari.

That would be the same Mr Dastyari who in December in 2017 announced he would resign from the Senate after revelations that he had promoted Chinese interests, including at a notorious news conference where he stood beside Mr Huang.

Four Corners reported that in 2016 — when Mr Huang was anxious to get his own citizenship — lobbyist Santo Santoro, a former Howard government minister and close to Mr Dutton, arranged a lunch between the businessman and the minister at Master Ken’s (upmarket) restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown.

Mr Dutton denies the lunch was about Mr Huang’s citizenship bid. “He didn’t make representations to me in relation to these matters,” he said on Tuesday, also stressing he’d received no donation (Mr Huang over several years donated, to both sides of politics, between $2 million and $3 million).

Mr Huang didn’t get his citizenship, and last year his permanent residency was cancelled. The officials charged with examining his background and activities judged him unsuitable to be one of us.

This is the very same Mr Huang who cost Sam Dastayari his career when Peter Dutton labelled him a “double agent” for his dealings with the man. During the campaign, former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull condemned the meeting:

“Look, Peter Dutton has got a lot to explain about this.”

“He is supposed to be the minister responsible for the domestic security of Australia, He is supposed to be the minister responsible for ensuring our politics is not influenced by foreign actors.

“The laws that I introduced at the end of 2017 about foreign influence and foreign interference are very important laws and responded to a rising concern in the community.

“Now, the idea that the minister responsible for enforcing those laws has had a meeting of this kind does raise a lot of questions but Peter Dutton is the only one that can answer it and Mr Santo Santoro should equally be answering questions about his role.”

The press more or less dismissed this as sour grapes on the part of Turnbull. Before it could mushroom into a genuine scandal, ScoMo called the election.

Yet we have ask, where is the ScoMo Government’s CPC plan? Why is Peter Dutton not funding a viable initiative to prevent further CPC influence operations at home, to give the Government shape and time on the subject, to provide succor to Australians and the Chinese diaspora that the ScoMo Government has their back?

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

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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  1. – Any information on how much “campaign donations” the Coalition has received in the last few years ? I fear that when that’s a very substantial amount then it will be very hard to put in a strong plan to deter/counter chinese “influence”.
    – The recent actions of the Coalition (before the election) don’t bode well ………..

  2. Hong Kong was lost in 1984 when Maggie abandoned theme to their fate. The British tried to put together a framework that would buy time and allow some an opt out and also by building the new airport, hopefully tie HK better into the region. But it was always going to be an uphill battle.

    As for their infiltration of Australia and New Zealand, it’s increasingly apparent that they are implementing a plan to systematically undermine us and co-opt us to their will. They play the game hard and we need to respond in kind.

    It’s not just about stamping out their epidemic influence peddling – not just at the national level but also at the State and local level – but we need to systematically cleanse our society of their influence. Take CCTV off the airwaves, close Confucius Institutes, build a spy network to monitor them locally in the Chinese community.

    Not only is our society at stake, our lives may be too. This is a battle for our country and we need to wake up to the threat that this evil organisation – The CPC – represents. They are a real life Spectre.

  3. reusachtigeMEMBER

    What I’m really hoping for is that those million plus protestors end up fleeing to Australia as refugees. The free-style Chinamen are great intellects and top business people and love to work in good jobs. They’d be an asset in our country for sure. Thankfully Sydney has always been top of the Cantonese list of OS places to flee to. I’ll definitely invest in a lot more city apartments when this happens. Let’s all hope.

    • HK was always meant to return to China when the British Empire’s 99 year lease expired in 1997. The residents have until 2047 to flee. You should ramp up your construction around 2045.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        I believe the lease was only on the new territories. The poms could have kept HK island. Giving it away to the Chinamen was a sign of upcoming Western weakness. At worst it should have been sold back to the Chinamen. They would have respected that type of business transaction.

    • Imagine how much better the dim sum here will be if they all flee to Aust. Hipster foodie types will be delighted

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        That Chinese restaurant up at Eastwood next to the fire station,…the Golden Wheel I think it is called,…was the only Chinese restaurant in Eastwood when I was a boy.
        The Northern Chinese who have taken over the place never eat in there,… but the place is none the less busy with its generations old European clientele who prefer that oily, MSG laden 1970s Cantonese Australian Chinese food.

        Like Mandarin speaking newcomers most Hipster foodie types turn their noses up at my favorite dish there,
        Sizzling Mongolian “lamb” and battered honey “Chicken”.
        The fried rice is good to but maybe just hold off on eating those Suspect school prawns.
        I always put em on the side of me plate so they can be reused in the next customers dish.

  4. DodgydamoMEMBER

    My recollection from the campaign was that Scomo’s only plan (for anything) was to ‘get on with the job’… so I guess that means ask Dutton to make a booking for yum cha?

    • DominicMEMBER

      ScoMo’s a world champ at empty slogans. Certainly, it was enough to win the election — which doesn’t say much for the Ben Dovers in the country. Or perhaps they see him for what he is and it was simply a case of Labor being so colossally sh!te.

      • Empty slogans that sound good but in fact do not mean anything on close inspection are the best ones to roll out before an election, especially where voting is compulsory. Voters love them because they don’t understand them and you cannot possibly be held accountable because they don’t mean anything.

      • Makes Tony Abbots slogans look like a crafty wordsmith with elaborate lengthy prose.

        Code for the ScoMo bot:
        10 “How good is ” $variable
        20 GOTO 10.

  5. Peter Dutton Probably sees a lot to admire in China, especially its security apparatus. He’s joined by people like Barnaby Joyce, who likes to talk about “benevolent tyranny” and “Asian values” as to why Australia should do this or that.

    Both men are traitorous filth. Quislings. They are undermining this country from the inside out. We are doomed.

    • wHaT aBoUt LaBoR?!?!

      Meanwhile these guys are in government, have been for 6 years, and Dutton is a minister of the crown. But hey ho….Labor.

      Will the Liberals ever produce a PM who went to China and told them to their faces that they better shape up or ship out:

      Will the Liberals ever produce a White Paper that names the beast and positions Australia for a world where it must defend itself against China:

      The answer so far is a big fat no. Both instances were criticised by the usual conservative commentators. reading back on their criticisms is hysterical because of how wrong they are:

      Peter Jennings, whom this blog has quoted on numerous times before, is here in this article( describing the 2009 White Paper as “a somewhat pessimistic view of regional security prospects” and “…the language on China was sensibly softened, because the aim of white papers shouldn’t be to create enmity.” How wrong he was, and how wrong the whole conservative apparatus of defence was. China is absolutely a terrible threat, and Labor was well ahead of the curve over a decade ago saying exactly that. At the time it was roundly criticised by conservative commentators.

      You would be better served reading more about the history of these issues than popping off on these pages.

      I’ve come to you with sources, I’m not interested in your unsubstantiated opinions

      • Chill Nathan, all I’m saying is that they are all corrupt and it’s treason IMO when they accept “any gift” from a foreign gov for favours….period. I have zip faith in any of them. If you believe one is better than the other I say good luck with that. I don’t believe any party is governing for Australia, and it’s self interest and gouging the citizens as they sure as hell don’t gouge the corps.

      • SweeperMEMBER

        It’s just the MB group think signalling technique. Blame Labor, “vibrancy” and “cultural Marxism”. Include some tedious anecdote. Hey presto! You’re part of the team.

      • @sweeper …where did I just blame labour.. I said them all. I constantly be out blaming them all

      • @ afund

        Nice attempt to change tact and deflect, plus a complete lack of sources to substantiate your claims, so my criticism of you still stands. You need to read more on the history of China-Australia relations, you clearly don’t know what you are talking about.

      • People are actually calling out the LNP. The point made in this comment is valid, as much as contributors on a small econ blog have an opinion, it does actually rely on an institutional opposition to call this stuff out. Whether you like it or not, there appears to be a voter concern that Labor will be weaker in dealing with the CPC. Ideally labor will need to counter this with clear public statements, policy and actions. Their actions have been weak and slow in this space, and they have been publicly damaged and embarrassed by Dastyari et al and the conga line of donation conflicts.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        June 12, 2019 at 8:02 am
        It’s just the MB group think signalling technique. Blame Labor, “vibrancy” and “cultural Marxism”. Include some tedious anecdote. Hey presto! You’re part of the team.”

        Though I agree Sweeper with your criticism of the repeated Hysterical and paranoid calls of “Cultural Marxism” that goes on here all the time, I do take issue with your criticism of the “tedious anecdotes” on this site.
        Those anecdotes are the only reason I continue to maintain my MB subscription!

      • @morgs

        I expect both sides to not be traitors, so I don’t know why you seem so obsessed with only one side. ( actually I do, you’re an old LNP supporter)

        Joyce, Dutton, are utter traitors, and guess what?

        They’re in government

        Point that mega mind of yours towards the people in charge

      • @ Nathan Rarely see anyone here defending the LNP stance eg Robb et al, yet we have tribal labor apologists defending them all the time. It’s no good winging about the people in power, if you don’t have a genuine and viable alternative, otherwise you just have the CPC model.

    • Need this in Melbourne for dealing with the African Gang problem. Ironically it probably can’t detect black face. When I try take photos of my black labrador i find it difficult to capture his facial expressions properly when the sun isn’t directly on his face haha.

  6. SweeperMEMBER

    My recall here is that one side hid all its policies from the public except its trickle down tax cuts and we were told we couldn’t trust the other side because of parental visas or something even though it put all its policies on the table and didn’t try to con and scare the electorate to vote for them. Reap what you sow. Elect a bunch of con artists and get a shadowy government. No sympathy for the media either they deserve what they get since they single handled got Morrison elected.

    • McPaddyMEMBER

      I understand and sympathise with this impulse, Sweeper, but do be aware that it’s precisely what the CCP, Putin, Trump, Scummo and Dutton want you to feel. As crappy as they are, the MSM, when they do their job (which is far too rarely), are the only thing standing between us and a slide into tyranny and/or oligarchy. The necessary first step to co-opt those who depend on the 4th estate for the preservation of their rights and freedom is to convince them that the media is rotten to the core and is actually their enemy. Once that cynicism is established, any attack on press freedom or diversity of expression will meet with little resistance and truth becomes the property of the party with the biggest megaphone (i.e. resources).

    • You’re fulfilling your destiny, Sweeper. Become my apprentice. Learn to use the Moron Side of the Force.

    • There was actually a drift away from both major parties, which now appear highly compromised by multinational connections and the extreme growth globalist policies that support them. Labor misread the public mood to embrace the cost of reform in the face of clear globalist, wage pressure and energy pressure. If you want people to pull together you can’t be running policies that are undermining this at the same time. Labor have a long long journey to go back to being a workers party.

      • That’s right. There was a drift away from both, but due to the nature of our system, that drift was reallocated via preferences which ended up favouring the LNP. With more economic pain to come, the drift will be bigger next time. What’s needed is for a serious third party to step up and take the opportunity being granted to them; a party that rejects the Neoliberal Consensus.

  7. Ronin8317MEMBER

    The protest in HK is not about democracy. HK never had it, there were no election under British rule.

    Instead, the struggle is about the rule of law. This is HK’s biggest advantage over other Chinese cities, and it is being eroded for no good reason The HK Chief Executive is being stupid.

    • The Chief Executive isn’t being stupid. She is just doing what she is told. It is Beijing that is killing the golden goose which was Hong Kong.

      • McPaddyMEMBER

        At handover, HKG was 30% of China’s GDP. It’s now 2%. The golden goose is being deliberately suffocated. The CCP would rather have control than wealth. The wealth is only important in service of that control.

      • McPaddyMEMBER

        PS. I’m a permanent resident of HKG and have lived here since 2011. What I’ve witnessed over that period (the descent) has been horrifying and extreme paranoia is entirely justified. It’s contributing to my decision to ship my family out.

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        There is a Chinese phrase : 上有政策 下有对策. The role of a Chinese regional head is to appease Beijing without actually implementing the policy that is against the interest of the region. It is Japanese Kabuki theatre. Any HK Chief Executive who actually obeys Beijing will gets the axe in one term because of the massive protest that results. The July 1st protest this year will be enormous.

      • McPaddy,”PS. I’m a permanent resident of HKG…moving family out”. I think Singapore it is going to be a massive beneficiary as this unfolds.

      • @Martin Agreed. I was just saying the other day that if I could go back to 2011 I would now choose SG over HKG as an “Asia for Dummies” base for me and my family.
        @Ronin That is an interesting perspective and it has certainly played out that way to date. But I wonder whether Beijing will cut Carrie loose this time. I feel that their resolve is hardening significantly and the need to put on a show of responding to popular (“unruly”) sentiment is eroding. I would say that they are calibrating their response very carefully. Pushing precisely as far as they judge possible every hour of every day, over decades. Eventually the dithering frog is cooked. Lessons for Australia there.

      • @mcpaddy

        A big disadvantage of Singapore is that you dont have Sunday Funday…those filo domestic helpers are a blast!

      • I’m HK permanent resident as well, been here since 2006, love the place but this is a major turning point. If the US and EU pull the special exemption rights given to the SAR then its over. It will cease to be a financial hub as the rest of the western world will treat HK as a part of China, thus all the tariffs, restrictions will be in place.
        It also shows that China doesn’t respect any agreement made with other countries, its reneging on a major agreement with the UK as 50 years of 1 country 2 system. That says it all why the US is doesn’t trust any trade deal with them

  8. MountainGuinMEMBER

    Hopefully the anti corruption body focused on parliament gets attention again. It was another institutional protection against any $$$$ for favours.
    I fully get it would prob have limited power and scope but is better than nothing.

    • The model proposed by Scummo is to protect corrupt politicians rather than expose them. It will make the problem worse.

    • C.M.BurnsMEMBER

      Labor took a federal ICAC to the election as an explicit election commitment.

      If you’re under the belief that the LNP are going to roll out any remotely effective as a federal ICAC, you’ve been conned.

  9. J BauerMEMBER

    “Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said there were concerns about the message the proposed laws sent to foreign investment and foreign companies operating in Hong Kong.”

    This is Penny’s response. She’s concerned about investment and foreign companies. Nice one penny, no concern for the people who will be tortured and killed?

  10. HadronCollision

    I wonder. Somewhere, deep in Defence, is there a plan to topple an otherwise traitorous Australian government, as the ultimate risk mitigation.

    And how might that play out?

    AmIRight in saying thus far Defence are appearing more patriotic than parliamentarians?

  11. surflessMEMBER


  12. ChinajimMEMBER

    S.K. Bannon on China.

    I’m a leftie, Labor supporting Trump loathing bleeding heart and Bannon is right. It was after 1989 that western capitalist interests fell over themselves to normalise China. I was there with a front-row seat.

    I’m a Hong Kong permanent resident and lived there since 1992 (waves dick at the other Old Asia Hands here who aren’t as old as I am :-)), moved my residency back to Australia in 2017. I was up there last week. Now I just weep.

  13. fitzroyMEMBER

    Martin Lee is a star. He has been fighting this fight for over thirty years. If he says this is the end of freedoms in Hong Kong it is the end.