One of the biggest positives to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that its has forced the federal government to grow some cajones and stand up to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bullying.
The latest salvo comes from Australia’s top diplomat, DFAT Secretary Frances Adamson, who in a detailed interview in the Weekend Australian vowed Australia won’t tolerate Beijing’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy or interferences in our internal affairs.
Adamson said the country’s legal system and freedom of speech are at stake and that we must stand up to China or risk a very slippery slope for democracy:
A fluent Mandarin speaker, she was Australia’s ambassador in Beijing from 2011 to 2015, following earlier postings in the Australian consulate-general in Hong Kong and with the then Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taiwan…
“We’ve seen China seeking to assert itself in this region, in the Indo-Pacific and globally, in ways that suits its interests but don’t suit the interests of countries like Australia. We want a peaceful, stable, prosperous region … but when influence builds into interference, that is something we don’t want to see, our government won’t tolerate and I think most Australians are broadly supportive of that”…
When asked how Australia should deal with Beijing right now, she chooses to answer in a general way without mentioning China, but it is obvious which country her words are aimed at.
“Wherever the challenges come from, Australia should, Australia must, Australia is, standing up for its interests because if we don’t we are on a very slippery slope.
“The institutions we take for granted — our parliament, our democracy, our legal system, our freedom of speech and association — they really are at stake now. This is not a theoretical threat or concept and we need to make sure our institutions are strong and that we can defend ourselves. And this is where the role of diplomacy comes into play.”
Adamson is disappointed in the relatively new “wolf warrior” style of aggressive diplomacy adopted by China in Australia and elsewhere. “What it does is undermine the trust that is necessary if we are to manage differences,” she says. “Trust is quite important and I think shrill language, language that tests the bounds of truth, disinformation more broadly, is something we need to call out (because) if you accept it, it becomes the norm.”
Better late than never.