Good grief. Stop the kow towing, Paul:
The past is a foreign country replete with false trails for the future. The two worst false trails for Australia in dealing with China are that the world is seeing a new Cold War, and that the emerging China threat will finish in a 20th-century style “victory and defeat” scenario.
China is not the Soviet Union. It is not Hitler’s Germany. Such comparisons are useful not for their similarities but for their differences. China is a more formidable rival for America than was the Soviet Union but it is less dangerous, a paradox offering hope but filled with challenge.
Australia now faces the most searching test of its character, strength and creativity in its history. The certainty is that China’s influence in our region and in our own country will grow immeasurably. How do we manage this? There is no point trying to “contain” China. The idea is absurd. The means do not exist even for America.
That depends very much on what “containment” is. If it is some kind of final victory then right you are. Chinese influence is here to stay. But if it is to contain a tyrannical communist state that is already showing distinct signs of stress as it enters an inevitable economic decline then it is absolutely possible.
Indeed, it is inevitable. Liberal democracy did not come to dominate modern history out of some fantastic quirk. Nor did the CPC embrace economic liberalisation to stoke its own rise out of co-incidence. It did so because as a system it is more durable and dynamic than its competitors. Without it, the CPC cannot force grow its economy forever, as it has made plain itself through its vast and so far failed market reform efforts. It can’t successfully reform any longer because the contradiction at the heart of its authoritarian politics makes it dependent on huge capital misallocation for its legitimacy. That’s before we even discuss its monstrous demographics:
This is not the end of China. But it is the end of Chinese catch-up growth. As it goes ex-growth permanently, tracking its falling productivity into the abyss, China’s relative economic influence will wane as well. The West does not even need to contain China, though we might as well give it a shove given how toxic the CPC has become.
Then the Paul Kelly bull really ramps up:
The new framework for Australia with China must be co-operation with strategic resilience. It must reflect two realities. First, that our living standards, services and incomes will be significantly shaped by economic partnership with China and that engagement with China — its economy, peoples and institutions — must continue to deepen. Any Australian government that shuns this task will invite strong electoral retribution.
Second, Australia needs to develop a society-wide awareness and resilience as a nation to combat Chinese penetration, buying of influence in business, universities and media, illegal cyber warfare, stealing intellectual property, attacks on our democratic principles of free speech and academic integrity, and purchasing of political influence. Beijing is going to squeeze this country. How hard and when nobody knows exactly — but that arises from our fidelity as a US ally.
Any Australian Government that seeks to deepen the current strategic/economic straddle between the US and China is a bloody idiot. That’s exactly the kind of resources-centric thinking that got us into the pickle in the first place. Hedging China risk is the only objective of policy now. We should have been doing it all along, saving the largesse of what was always a temporary commodity boom for this day, instead of pissing it away on house prices for Paul Kelly’s greedy generation.
Yes, we need a pan-societal push back against CPC influence (which is not “Chinese” influence), and that should include the above point. Kelly is right about one thing, there is no resisting it if you seek to deepen economic ties ever further. That much we have already proven.
No, Paul, your greedy Boomer mates are just going to have to have to take a little economic pain to preserve Australian liberal democracy for their kids. Ideally, we will:
- slash immigration;
- work towards a low dollar policy;
- bring down energy prices;
- reboot productivity reform.
And become a trading nation once again, with a focus on everything other than China.
The polity will wildly cheer whoever does it. It’s fed up with being crushloaded by out of touch Canberra wankers like Paul Kelly.