ScoMo continues his sensible path on Chinese aggression, at the AFR he writes:
…economic interdependence and openness has created unprecedented wealth and prosperity, and lifted billions out of poverty.
Importantly, it facilitated the economic rise of China.
No country has pulled more people out of poverty than China, and we in Australia are pleased to have played our role.
That is a good thing for the global economy. It is good for Australia. And, of course, good for the Chinese people.
We are not and have never been in the economic containment camp on China.
…Like other sovereign nations in the Indo-Pacific, our preference is not to be forced into binary choices.
…Australia desires an open, transparent and mutually beneficial relationship with China as our largest trading partner, where there are strong people-to-people ties, complementary economies and a shared interest in regional development and wellbeing, especially in the emerging economies of south-east Asia.
Hugh White is cock-a-whoop, at AFR:
Hugh White, an Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University, said US objectives towards China were not the same as Australia’s.
“The [Morrison] government has made it very easy for the US to present what we are doing in their terms,” he said. “Australia’s policy objectives towards China are fundamentally different to those of America.”
Professor White said Mr Morrison’s speech should be seen as an explicit effort by the Prime Minister to distance Australia from America’s strategic rivalry with China.
Meh. We’ll go on pretending that for as long as we can. But in reality there are few choices here. The open trading system we love relies on US hegemony. It is its hard power guarantor; purely a figment of the US liberal empire.
You can’t replace the US with the CCP without catastrophic disruption. It is fundamentally illiberal, corrupt and repressive. It stands in complete contadiction to the underpinnings that make the system work outside of China. The moment that you remove the independent umpire from East Asia then all hell breaks loose. Historical and ideological enmities drive policy. Nuclear and arms races take off. Ideologies clash. Wars begin. Trade collapses.
Likewise, US choices are limited. If it withdraws from its guarantor role then it invites a giant rival and threat to its Pacific doorstep. Why would it trade Chinese missiles parked off Seattle and LA for its own motoring around off China instead?
In the raw calculus of power, the US has zero incentive to withdraw from Asia.
That does not mean it will fight an open war. That would also be stupid. It is not committed to supporting Taiwan and never has been. The Taiwan clash is a civil war, if not in national terms then historical and ethnic. The US should do what it is already doing. Support Taiwan with material and protect the sea lanes.
Indeed, I expect the US to adopt this doctrine of proxy defense across Asia. Democracies must defend themselves not just rely upon a big brother. An anti-CCP, not anti-China, build-up of alliances and arms across Asia is more than enough to keep it busy for many decades.
In this environment, Australia will always choose the US. At least while the Coalition is in power, and probably Labor as well:
The difference is that Labor would sell us out quietly in the meantime and make it eventually impossible to resist China which is why it will very likely keep opposition benches warm for the foreseeable future.
In short, we’ll go on pretending that there is a choice until the crunch comes and then we’ll cut off the flow of iron ore when it does.
Why? Because in the end, there is no other choice.