DFAT head calls out Chinese ‘bullying’

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.

Leith van Onselen
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Comments

    • Yes, but unfortunately it is probably too late. I really do wonder if China can be peacefully contained now. It is not like they are just going to roll over, and accept being relegated. They want to be number 1, and will now fight for it.

      • Very, very deep I’m guessing. Modern Straya being relatively young is quite naive in some of the more unpleasant ways of the world (and just may not have understood that other cultures/societies really do view the differently which has a whole host of ramifications if you think about it). Couple that with a healthy dose of greed and arrogance and you have a recipe for quite and ‘oh sh1t’ moment at some stage down the track. I’d say we’re at that moment.

    • When the “DFAT head” i.e. a public servant “calls out Chinese ‘bullying’” you can be 100% sure that its has gone so deep that no politician wants to speak out about it or touch it.

      Frances Adamson has been handed a grubby chalice with all the ALP and LNP fingerprints on it and asked to “clean it up” without it seeming political”. It’s a bit of turd-polishing that the people who have cut the guts out of the public service now expect a public servant to set right. A shame they can’t outsource it to KPMG.

      Ever since the ALP mistakenly assumed that the CCP would reform their ways with economic development (back in the 70s and 80s) and put away their thumb screws, there has been no Plan B. Only last year Paul Keating announced that anyone worried about Chinese authoritarianism and foreign influence was a crank.

      How’s that working out for you Paul?

      One wonders if The Greens will out Frances Adamson as a racist?

      • Those idiots around the world who thought that economic development would result in a liberalisation of China made one of the greatest strategic blunders in the history of the world. They simultaneously empowered their enemy while impoverishing and weakening themselves.

        Still though, thanks to Covid and a few other unexpected factors (eg Trump), the world seems to be waking up to the threat and doing something about it.

        I think if the Chinese had continued to play the long game they would’ve succeeded in their hegemonic plans, but Xi was arrogant and greedy, and he’s stuffed them, to the benefit of all.

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