Via China coal lobbyist and registered agent of foreign influence, Geoff Raby, at the AFR:
Also the past week, we have also seen states in East Asia engaging and hedging with China…So the region continues to reshape itself to declining US engagement and China’s rising power.
…Just as the Prime Minster was leaving Japan, the Chinese Ambassador to Tokyo was sounding conciliatory on the fractious Senkaku/Diao Yu Dao Islands dispute and progress was announced on the Japan-China-South Korea free trade negotiations.
Tokyo and Beijing are busily recalibrating their relationship through further engagement ahead of the change in administration in Washington.
In contrast, Australia has made itself an outlier in its dealings with China. This is an inconvenient truth that no amount of feigned or even real indignation coming out of Canberra over China’s actions should be permitted to conceal.
Australia is most certainly not alone in having important and complex challenges to address with a rising and assertive China.
If we were, the current dire state of our relationship would be just something we have to live with, as senior ministers suggest.
The policy failure is that among all the many countries, both in our region and beyond, which are concerned about China’s behaviour, we have not been able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
…In the region, Australia’s values and democratic institutions are not the only ones that sit at odds with China’s. New Zealand for one faces all of the challenges that Australia does, but still manages to maintain constructive diplomatic relations, including high-level visits during the period in which Australia has been frozen out.
But no country more than Japan has to balance deep historical animosities, ongoing territorial issues, contingent geography, and deep economic interdependence.
Yet Japan still maintains normal diplomatic relations and engagement, including the presence of a substantial contingent of its media in China. Xi Jinping was to have visited Japan in April this year until COVID intervened.
The Japanese relationship with China has been improving since 2018 when the Trump Administration became CCP trade enemy numero uno. But it’s happening from a low base. Before that, the relationship was in dire strife over the Senkaku/Diao Yu Dao Islands. Mr Raby neglects to mention that a decade ago China was so incensed with Japan that it launched huge boycotts of Japanese goods that resulted in riots that shut Japanese-owned factories and outlets. Japan also recently banned Huawei.
Nor does Mr Raby mention China’s increasingly regular habit of using economic and other bullying as a tool of statecraft, isolating countries for perceived slights. Norway has been in the dog house for years for handing out a Nobel to a Chinese dissident. South Korea was blocked from Chinese tourists over plans to deploy THAAD missiles a few years ago. India was recently at war with China and has recently been building military relations with Australia via the Quad (along with Japan). China’s rosy relations with Canada are, if anything, worse than Australia’s in recent times. Following the arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou, China’s took two Canadians hostage and has openly threatened the wellbeing of 300k Canadians in Hong Kong.
There is no doubt that China has scaled up the economic weapon in the Australian case. But this has more to do with China’s evolving diplomatic goals and attitudes than it does anything Australia has done. Mr Raby seems not to have heard of “wolf warriors”. Nor to have noticed that “Xi Jinping thought”, which is intrinsically hawkish about CCP security, is increasingly governing China’s foreign relations. Nor to have noticed that economic punishment is increasingly the norm as well. Yesterday China threatened the UK in precisely the same terms it did to Australia a few months ago. Nor has Mr Raby noticed that China’s global soft power has so comprehensively soured that it has been forced to turn to bullying, a diplomatic outlier if there was ever one, to get a hearing at all.
None of these countries faced the type of violations of sovereignty that Australia experienced as the CCP spread corruption through our parliament, universities and business elite. We pushed back because to do not so was unthinkable for a sovereign nation, let alone one that is endeavouring to sustain democracy in the face of a bullying tyrant. Yet, at the same time, Australia has fiercely defended the rules-based order upon which China depends for its critical imports in the face of a trade assault from Washington. We also signed the RCEP, which Mr Raby also fails to mention, though apparently others are hedging by doing so. We have not been one-eyed China hawks by a long shot. A point underlined today by ScoMo’s London speech.
Mr Raby’s myopia extends to Washington as well. Far from withdrawing from Asia, Joe Biden just appointed a holy trinity of rock-solid Asia experts that have no relationship with the failed Obama years in Asia. Secretary of State Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of Defence Michele Flourney have regional engagement and China skepticism written all over them. As the New York Times put it:
he will try to coalesce skeptical international partners into a new competition with China, according to people close to the process.
And, of course, who are these fine folk going to turn to now, with a history of great relations with Australia, for insight into evolving Chinese postures? Australia, at the centre of things.
Australia is no more an “outlier” than any of the above countries on the receiving end of an obvious pattern of aggressive, rather stupid, diplomatic faux pas by Beijing as it flops around seeking purchase on influence lost following the collapse of its reputation owing to COVID-19 bastardry. Indeed, it is Mr Raby that is increasingly isolated and an intellectual oddity. The useful idiots at the ABC and AFR like to refer to Mr Raby as “former ambassador” rather than defining him by his current role as effective chief lobbyist for CCP-owned Yancoal. By doing so, they are allowing an obvious conflict of interest to inform their editorial. The CCP itself recognises this very fact:
Time the Australian press recognised his conflicts too.
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