No doubt about it, Labor is committed to twenty years in opposition. From Kevin Rudd today:
The most important thing about Australia having a national China strategy is to have one. At present, we do not. What we have instead is a government with a series of attitudes about China, rather than a coherent policy for dealing with China.
We seem to have a government more interested in fanning public hysteria over ‘‘reds under the beds’’, almost a new yellow peril, all suddenly requiring the Australian people to stand up against the Chinese hordes. It has taken what is a three-out-of-10 challenge to Australian national interests and values and turned it into a nine-out-of-10 existential threat.
Moreover, it’s an approach driven primarily by the Liberals’ domestic political agenda of trying to define the Labor Party as soft on China – rather than a calm, clear-headed, rational analysis of both the challenges and the opportunities we face with China’s rise, America’s response and a region increasingly finding itself in the strategic cross-hairs.
Let us list the things that Australia’s modest China push back is apparently not driven by, according the Chairman Kevin:
- CCP-linked bribery sinking NSW Labor;
- unprecedented CCP-linked influence operations across Canberra;
- CCP-linked cyber attacks on the Australian parliament and universities;
- the Hong Kong freedom movement;
- CCP-linked ultra-nationalist violence shutting down Hong Kong supporters across Australia;
- CCP-linked university joint ventures profiteering from the destruction of Uighers, Tibetins and anyone else on the wrong side of the CCP;
- military encroachment into the South China Sea;
- Cambodian military annexation and containment of South East Asian US allies;
- bribes across the Pacific to undermine US hegemony;
- and massive IP theft that has sunk just as many Australian as it has US businesses.
In short, Rudd’s drivel is virtually indistinguishable from yesterday’s awful diatribe by the CCP Ambassador at the AFR. Rudd’s post-political life is enmeshed with Chinese interests, his family has embedded Chinese business interests as well, but neither has anything whatsoever to do with the Australian national interest.
The truth is, Australia’s response to the CCP’s abundantly clear sharp power assault has been fantastically respectful to Chinese people and undeservedly polite to the bullying CCP. There is considerable self-censorship underway across the Australian political economy in support of this. It’s not very healthy but it sure as hell isn’t “yellow peril”.
Could Australia’s China policy be improved? Of course. But would taking Kevin’s advice help? The Rudd Government simply sailed the national ship straight into the same great power binary as the Coalition did before it. Now it is breaking, he can hardly claim either prescience or policy stability. The Asian Century White Paper his successor commissioned is a monument to political myopia.
The Australian China push back is so far much too weak. Thankfully history will very likely force it to get stronger. Australians will be better off for it as our freedoms and democracy are bulwarked, at some small economic price which is coming anyway as the internal contradictions of the Chinese political economy kill off its growth period.
Perhaps most damaging will be the price we pay for having no effective opposition as CCP apologists like Kevin Rudd sink Labor for as far as the eye can see.