What a world this is, via Domain:
Federal Parliament’s first Chinese-born MP says the Andrews government’s deal with Beijing on the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative has been shrouded in secrecy, and called on the state to release full details of the scheme’s benefit to Victoria.
Gladys Liu said although Australia was open to entering into global trade agreements, “the reality is we do not trade off our values for business”.
“Premier Andrews didn’t talk to the federal government, so we didn’t know about it,” Ms Liu told The Age. “The most important thing is, what are Victorians, what are Australians getting out of it? How many jobs have the projects been able to provide? What are these companies getting these projects? Have [the projects] been put up for public tender? Do they pay Australian tax? We don’t know. If there is a benefit, then show us.”
What can I say? CCP stooge, Gladys Liu, who made her way to the top by brokering dodgy deals between CCP agents of influence and the Coalition is incensed by Dan Andrews’s BRI deal.
Where does one look when the truth is so mangled?
For starters, we should note that the Coalition Government did give its blessing, as we learned last week at The Australian:
Australia’s current ambassador to China gave the green light to Victoria to sign on to President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, which has been criticised by Scott Morrison.
The Australian can reveal that Graham Fletcher, then a senior Foreign Affairs official, told the Victorian government in May 2018 that its plan to sign on to the BRI had merit.
The Prime Minister said last weekend: “We didn’t support (Victoria’s) decision at the time they made it.” However, The Australian has learned senior Foreign Affairs officials told a Victorian Premier and cabinet team the state’s plans to sign up the BRI did not undercut federal government policy — advice that was seen by state officials as offering implicit support for the move.
The Australian can reveal the advice was conveyed at a meeting with Mr Fletcher, who was then head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Northeast Asia branch. Mr Fletcher was appointed ambassador to China in August 2019.
So, Ms Liu is using a lie to attack lying, which seems a nice metaphor for the state of truth in Aussie public discourse today.
Meanwhile, the excellent John Lee sees the thing as useless anyway, at The Australian:
BRI spruikers tell us that signing on will allow Victoria access to deep reservoirs of dormant capital waiting to be allocated, such as the multi-billion-dollar Silk Road Fund.
Read the fine print. About 87 per cent of Chinese funding for the BRI comes from state-owned policy and commercial banks, which are already the most overleveraged financial institutions of any major economy. Of the remaining 13 per cent, about 9 per cent comes from Chinese firms with only 2 per cent from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Silk Road Fund respectfully. Even then, about one-fifth of the capital held by the Silk Road Fund comes from the country’s indebted banks. The fund is not in a position to flippantly allocate capital to projects around the world.
What about Chinese firms? The pressure on them to invest in viable projects is intense given most of the capital poured into BRI signatory countries is likely to generate negative, or at best, no returns. This includes tens of billions of dollars in countries such as Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, Laos, Iran and Kazakhstan that were made for strategic rather than commercial reasons.
The point is that Chinese firms can no longer afford to throw substantial amounts at poor investments and are desperate to find commercially attractive projects regardless of whether one’s government has signed on to the BRI or is apart from it.
Given the near wholesale withdrawal of Chinese capital from Australia that seems a pretty fair assessment.
Helping is not the CCP’s goal, at Domain:
Beijing is exploiting differences within countries and regions over the Belt and Road Initiative all over the world, national security experts warn, as it ramps up its push to become a global health and infrastructure leader in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
…Herve Lemahieu, director of the power and diplomacy program at the Lowy Institute, said the EU was hardening its line on China but individual member states were not yet on board with the new program, “especially central and eastern European countries and Italy, which have signed up to BRI”.
Mr Lemahieu said China was also looking to exploit differences in the US, targeting politicians in California who did not adopt Washington’s more strident approach towards Beijing.
Manchurian Dan and his coterie of CCP apologists have absorbed more than just propaganda, at The Australian:
Diary is told that sarcastic asides and eye-rolling have been stock reactions among some of Andrews’s spinners towards reporters asking questions about Belt and Road.
There’s a standing joke in the Victorian press gallery that the Andrews crew expects reporters to behave like the journalistic stenographers of the China Daily, not your regular Aussie press pack.
That attitude clearly extends to broadcasters. Repeated requests (including two more last week) by Melbourne’s radio king, 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, for a chat with “Chairman Dan”, as Mitchell has dubbed him, have been curtly rejected or ignored.
Clearly, things have got personal between Andrews and Mitchell, who’s regarded as Melbourne’s toughest interviewer. As Mitchell tells Diary: “One of his mates told me recently: ‘He wants you to apologise.’ I asked: ‘What for?’”
…On the print side, multiple reporters have told Diary of a hostile reception from Chairman Dan’s crew to reasonable questions on everything from whether Belt and Road was a “captain’s pick”, to the involvement of Jean Dong, a self-styled pro-China “influencer” and lobbyist.
Ms Dong is taking a pounding, also at The Australian:
The young woman who helped convince Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to sign up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative hosted a financial forum for Australian business leaders in Beijing last year, where she rubbed shoulders with senior Chinese Communist Party figures and top regulators.
Jean Dong, a self-proclaimed “influencer”, was a key organiser of the event, which was sponsored by a Chinese financial think tank co-founded by CCP central committee member Shang Fulin.
Mr Shang, chair of the China Wealth Management 50 Forum, is a former chair of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
The whole thing is now a standing joke in which “double agents” debate the merits of treasonous activity while the rest look on slack-jawed.
We can take some comfort from the knowledge that this preposterous schmozzle is symptomatic of the peak and decline of foreign influence as the behavioral normatives shift but, jeez, it ain’t much fun to watch.