Protecting freedom is not “economic self-harm”

More Chinese abuse today:

China has suspended the importation of more Australian beef, this time from Meramist Pty Ltd, the sixth supplier to face such a move in a country that is one of China’s main meat suppliers.

China made the decision on Monday but did not provide a reason.

We know the reason. Topping the freedom-hating steaming pile again is The Guardian:

Australia would be shooting itself in the foot if it tried to untangle itself from economic reliance on China, politicians from both major parties have declared, while warning there is no end in sight to the turbulence in the relationship.

Labor MP Tim Watts cautioned on Tuesday that economic decoupling from China – an idea that is advanced by some of the most hawkish politicians in Canberra – would be “an unprecedented act of national self-sabotage”.

His Liberal colleague, the former diplomat Dave Sharma, agreed that wholesale decoupling was not a serious proposition, because China was deeply integrated into the global economy and because Australia had been a “massive beneficiary” of its growth and industrialisation.

Both MPs were to outline their views about how Australia should manage its increasingly challenging relationship with China at an event organised by the China Matters thinktank at parliament house on Tuesday morning.

But in a pair of papers published by China Matters in advance of the event, Sharma warned against any “descent into McCarthyism”, saying Australian public debate must be sophisticated enough to allow an exchange of views without people’s patriotism being called into question.

Stop it right there. Check out the line-up. Labor MP ipso facto CCP sell-out. Dave Sharma, former diplomat, ipso facto CCP sell-out. China Matters, the pro-China think tank, ipso facto CCP sell-out.

No, we don’t want McCarthyism which is simply pointing the bone of disgrace without evidence. But we do need to point out the disturbing lack of faith these tosspots have in our own system. Not to mention their conflicts of interest.

Declaring “McCarthyism” is not an argument, it is an intellectually lazy label that, ironically, shares a lack of evidence with McCarthyism.

Which of the 14 conditions of a rosy Chinese relationship do Sharma and Watts and China Matters agree with? It’s a pointless question because if you agree with one then you agree with all because you also agree that we should compromise and that will only egg on the CCP bullying until we can say no to nothing.

What I find so very disappointing about these appeasers is that somehow they have privileged Chinese exports above Australian liberal democracy and freedom.  Do they really believe that Chinese exports made us what we are today? That it was Chinese exports that make Australia a market economy? An innovator? A creator of wealth? A free society that has made its way to riches in a tough and competitive world? Were they born yesterday?

Rubbish. We’ve actually let the great Chinese bribe prevent that. We’ve let reform drop and become lazy and soft. The entire China exports, immigration ponzi of the last twenty years has damaged Australian prosperity over the long run not increased it.

This is particularly stupid of Sharma who is supposed to sit on the liberal side of politics. He should consider joining Labor.

A much better take comes from Peter Hartcher:

The good news is that this is surmountable. There are two quick case studies. First, plucky Taiwan. It has the same population size as Australia. And it has the same degree of export dependency on China, about 40 per cent pre-pandemic. The US sells Taiwan weaponry but is not a treaty ally.

Beijing has been bullying Taiwan for decades, threatening to invade, imposing trade sanctions, pressing countries worldwide to cut it off. Last year Xi Jinping cut off China’s tourism traffic to Taiwan, threatened to invade (again) and then interfered in Taiwan’s January election. All this was an effort to remove Taiwan’s pro-independence leader, President Tsai Ing-wen.

Did Taiwan yield? Of course not. Xi’s intimidation, coercion and interference backfired and Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected with a slightly increased share of the vote. “Democratic Taiwan and our democratically elected government will not concede to threats and intimidation,” she said. And Taiwan’s longstanding wariness of China helped it to detect and defeat the COVID-19 outbreak with just seven dead.

Second, Australia. When Britain dumped Australia to join the European Common Market in 1973, it was a bitter betrayal. London switched all its trade preferences away from Australia and towards Europe. The economic effects were a real shock. Australian apple exports fell by 90 per cent, butter by 70, for instance.

Did Australia collapse? Of course not. It turned out to be a galvanising shock that energised Australia to engage Asia. Whatever trade embargoes Xi imposes on Australia now, we should look to 1973 and remember that we’ve done it before.

And for much less pressing reasons. We will be fine with decoupling as:

  • commodities are shipped elsewhere anyway;
  • Asia and India beckon as the customers of the future;
  • we do earn our keep via reform and better economic management instead of the easy Chinese bribe.

Indeed, the less China that there is the finer Australia shall be.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Protecting freedom is not “economic self-harm”

    But it does have a bravery required element which looks painful for those doing nicely without being brave…..or the naturally pusillanimous

    • “pusillanimous” you got me on that one. Wouldn’t timid, cowardly, or fearful have sufficed

        • Gunna, whether it is his insights from his distinguished career, his unique perspectives, his unquestionable appreciation of art or even his ancient memories of surfing, there is always something he contributes to enrich our lives each week.

    • Bravery and stupidity go hand in hand. Correlation is strong.
      One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s… Iraq experience is a tell tale.

      • GunnamattaMEMBER

        Thats right. We want leaders who can tell us to bend over, drop strides and spread those cheeks….and learn to love it.

        And those with whom we would interact, they’d respect us all the more, wouldn’t they, for taking what is coming and leaving all the decision in their hands, to mete out whatever they think appropriate. And if the archbishopric robes are parted we should suck on whatever is requested, with enthusiasm!

        ………uncomplaining and nary a word a word of rebuke or rejection. Where is that leather face mask? Where are those chains? We want to put them on!

        Well said Mr Gimp

        • LOL, lovely comment but it misses anything I said or implied. I wonder if this is not a comment that is posted at the wrong spot.
          I implied that “brave” rarely travels with smart (but rather too often with cognitively challenged).
          》smart《 is a better choice in protecting Aus but that is a difficult choice when chosen choices are being encumbered with bias.
          “Protecting freedom” is a lovely floscule that goes well with “freedom fries”, freedom cola, freedom beer. Some may just prefer different, healthier food. Perhaps not some, perhaps most.

          Perhaps my comments should be redacted and I should be banned for blasphemy…

          • Perhaps you have been saying all along “give up now, become a satellite CCP state and accept whatever may trickle from the emperors hands” but that is not the Aussie way for the smart would not even exist without the brave. Eventually, hand in hand, smart and brave must go together.

  2. I don’t know much about Dave Sharma other than what can be read on Wiki and a QandA appearance he made, but the SMH article this morning shows he has some ideas worth considering.

    • “… being more willing to disclose attempts by the PRC to interfere in Australia, from large-scale cyber attacks to attempts to intimidate Chinese-Australian communities,”
    • He said while Australia should be patient, “no self-respecting nation” could give in to pressure from Beijing, which escalated its attacks on Australia…
    • “Our security agencies need to better engage Australia’s Chinese communities. These communities need to be aware of vulnerabilities and alert to attempts to recruit them, and the agencies need their assistance and cooperation in mapping such activities,” and (my favourite)
    • Australia should broaden its trade horizons, arguing Taiwan should be admitted to the trans-Pacific trade deal, the TPP11, regardless of Beijing’s opposition

  3. BoomToBustMEMBER

    Shutdown exports of coal and iron ore and watch China’s industry grind to a halt very rapidly. Australia holds significant power with our resources from beef, wine, barely, wheat, iron ore, coal, gas etc. Strategic use of this power to ensure China understands that while small we hold power and will wield it where required is now necessary to restore some balance of power.

  4. Multinational companies are now telling employees to “BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WRITE IN REPORTS AS WE DON’T WANT TO PUT OUR HK AND CHINA COLLEAGUES IN DANGER”.

    In many corporations these reports are supposed to be informing clients about what is going on, providing investment advice, consulting advice or other expert advice to clients. Yet people are being muzzled.

    • And I am not talking about inflammatory comments.

      Even facts and reasonable opinion (the whole basis of providing expert advice) are being discouraged.

    • I’m not at all surprised. There’s some info that can only be verbally delivered and only if you know you’re not being recorded

  5. I find it hard with all this crap, why isn’t anyone talking about recognition of Taiwan.

    We only signed the One-China policy to enable us to trade with China, so we sort of sold out decades ago.

    • “Taiwan” is already recognised, by all the countries of the world.

      People’s republic of China (Mainland China) and Republic of China (Taiwan/Formosa) both support Once China policy, they have a dispute only in which region has dominion over that unified “China”

      • Not too sure about that, though the Low Institute says there’s wriggle room:

        “However, that is not Australia’s One-China Policy. The basis of the policy is the 1972 Communique between the Commonwealth and the People’s Republic of China, which states:

        The Australian Government recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China, acknowledges the position of the Chinese Government that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China, and has decided to remove its official representation from Taiwan before January 25, 1973.”

        • Wonderful wording, so it is almost time for Australia to state our position on Taiwan’s status and see if China recognises what we think. Isn’t that what Beijing said it wants, mutual respect.

          • Funny how actual wording can rebound in an unintended way! The CCP on a number of occasions has used the agreement to push the One-China policy (recently the WA Museum changed one of its displays based on this) and if you interpret it like I do, as a non lawyer, then we just acknowledge that China views Taiwan as a renegade territory. I’d have thought that doesn’t bind us to anything. Though the article does go on to make the point that gov statements bring a complicating factor!

  6. Just had a look at the FTA. I am unsure if there have been any arbitration proceedings under it. I wonder why not? If not why have it as it seems to only go one way.? At first blush there seems to be lots of damage for breach of all these contracts in need of compensation. Perhaps we should offer Taiwan trade on the same terms?

    I note that the proceedings are to be in English and ought comply with International law. Other FTA can be Enforced generally against assets in independent countries.

  7. boomengineeringMEMBER

    Re post as whole story disappeared.
    This is something our gov’t tried to sneakily bring on us.

    Chinese city to hand out virtual red packets as part of digital yuan trial | South China Morning Post
    A Chinese city is handing out virtual red packets of money to its citizens as part of the country’s drive to launch the first sovereign digital currency. In a statement posted on Friday night …

  8. Declaring “McCarthyism” is not an argument, it is an intellectually lazy label that, ironically, shares a lack of evidence with McCarthyism.
    Not really. Levelling accusations of treason against a person or persons without sufficient evidence is generally self-evident.

  9. Dave Sharma is just protecting the interests of his billionaire mates (Trigaboff, Lowy, Gandel, etc) who benefit from the current arrangement.

    for all your spam management queries please email [email protected]

      • Yeh ok, you go call for censorship Karen.

        Sharma is good mates with the aforementioned (particulalry Solomon Lew who also has a direct line to Josh Frydenberg as we’ve seen with Dividend Keeper) and moves in the same circles as those gentlemen. All of them, and Frank Lowy, just happen to be in the top 20 AFR richest list and are the primariy beneficiaries and donors to the ponzi scheme we’ve been running for the last 40 years.

        Your LNP:

      • It’s offensive to point out that the insidious rent-seekers like Triguboff, Lowy, Harvey etc all seek to sway public opinion?

      • I see the comment has been moderated now. We have plenty of rogues of every colour and creed. Nobody has a monopoly on it.

        • “People of all walks of life are corrupt, so therefore don’t criticise” is how that reads. Copout argument.

          I made an observation about a group of people from a disproportionately small cultural group within this country, that have an inversely disproportionate amount of wealth and power and who directly influence (read: bribe) one political party in particular because it furthers their own self-interest and demonstrably so. Same group that occupy a disproporionate amount of places in the AFR Top 20 richest list and that have business models structured around endless growth and debt, namely real estate and retail, and that have essentially captured one of our major political parties and by extension our economy.

          The same political party that is (correctly) screaming about foreign influence from China, but seems ok with it from those within it’s own ranks and that donate to it, that have allegiances to an even smaller country half a world away.

          I don’t see how this kind of behaviour is acceptable in the current political climate from our own PM:

          Unlike your cosmopolitan self, I’m not going to run screaming for the admins for censorship because the topic may seem uncomfortable to you or some strangers may think poorly of you. Ridiculous.

          • You call it an observation. I say, where is the evidence to prove the truth of the observation? You are essentially claiming that an ethnic minority that has been the object of persecution (and violence and much worse) in the West for centuries is, in fact, a pernicious and powerful enemy within. That kind of inflammatory and frankly dangerous statement requires some solid evidence if it’s to stand unchallenged. I haven’t yet seen you present any evidence.

          • @ Paddy Finucane

            R U sure you’re not talking of Chinese people?
            I read someplace that ethnic chinese in Aus are all agents of CCP thus “enemy within”… cannot remember where.

  10. kierans777MEMBER

    > Sharma warned against any “descent into McCarthyism”,

    So “McCarthyism” is the new “rascism”? 🤦‍♂️

  11. ashentegraMEMBER

    Disengage from China? We will be just fine. The $A would go down a bit, soften the losses. BHP, RIO, Twiggy and Gina would be very grumpy. Is that a bad thing?