Australia exposes China’s Davos drivel


From Albo last week:

ALBANESE: I wrote to the Prime Minister last week suggesting that he engage with former Prime Ministers Rudd and Howard, both of whom have significant relationships with China and as well, of course, Kevin Rudd has significant relationships with the incoming Biden Administration as well. It’s very clear that when Australian jobs in industries as diverse as wine, education, the timber industry, coal and other exports are under threat because of what has occurred with the breakdown in the relationship and China’s actions. To be clear, it is China that is to blame for breaking down that relationship. But you need to find a way through. And I think that it is very sensible to engage former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard. That is suggestions that have come to me from senior people in the business community as well as people in the union movement who have been worried about jobs.

JOURNALIST: Just on China again, can you point to any substantive difference in how you would approach the relationship? Or is it more rhetorical and a matter of tactics rather than the big picture?

ALBANESE: Well, look, I wouldn’t compromise any Australian values. That’s very clear. And we have a bipartisan position about that. But under Prime Minister Howard and under Prime Minister Rudd, we were able to manage those issues, I think, appropriately. Under this Government, we’ve seen more linkage with China in terms of the percentage of our exports that go to that one nation have meant that we’ve been more dependent than ever before. But we have a circumstance whereby we need to look towards some form of a circuit breaker. Not one that compromises our values, that’s important. I’ve spoken in a range of contexts about our democratic values, about human rights and how we should be consistent about that. And I think that this would be a practical suggestion. Because at the moment, we know that there’s no dialogue occurring at all.

Weasel words. What is the point of sending the Kowtow Embassy to China when it is comprised of leaders that not only failed to prepare Australia for today’s China attacks but actually set up the conditions that made us vulnerable to economic coercion?

The governments of Howard and Rudd took the easy path of deeper economic engagement because they misjudged China. They thought that a liberalised economy would free Chinese politics. Instead, it has turned out that China is seeking to illberalise ours. Hoocoodanode?

These are conditions that Albo himself admits were not faced by previous Australian governments. So what is the point of sending past failures back now?


The CCP has made it entirely clear what the point is:

No Australian can support this. It is the end of our democracy and takes Australia down a path that culminates in the disagreeable, your children included, being sent to local gulags. Thankfully, no Australian does agree:


What is Labor’s plan for the Kowtow Embassy? Which of the 14 conditions is it happy with? None of them is acceptable because all will reopen conduits to CCP influence. Or does Labor agree with all 14 conditions, because China has made plain all will be required for re-engagement?

In short, flying off half-cocked with the Kowtow Embassy is implicitly undermining Australian foreign policy by suggesting compromise is possible where there is none.

Or, is there something else going on? Has Albo gotten instructions from Bejing that it wants to settle things down? After all, the CCP looks like a goose as Australia laughs all the way to the bank while China has horribly exposed its strategic vulnerability to commodity supply chains:


Moreover, in Davos, Xi Jinping looks more than ever like the bullying dictator, via The Australian:

Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared the “strong should not bully the weak” as he delivered a veiled warning to the new Biden administration days after sending warplanes into Taiwanese airspace and engaging in skirmishes with India.

“To build small circles or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others, to wilfully impose decoupling, supply disruption or sanctions, and to create isolation or estrangement will only push the world into division and even confrontation,” he said.

…Positioning himself as the defender of the multilateral system, Mr Xi called for reforms of the World Trade Organisation and said China would continue to promote a “new type of international relations”. “China is working hard to bridge differences through dialogue and resolve disputes through negotiation, and to pursue friendly and co-operative ­relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” he said.

…Bilhari Kausikan, a former Singaporean Foreign Affairs Ministry secretary, told The Australian that Mr Xi’s speech was “overflowing with irony”, pointing not only to the trade restrictions but incursions in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

“But, you know, they don’t care what they say,” Mr Kausikan, one of the region’s leading foreign policy thinkers, said.


I’m not sure that they “don’t care what they say” is true. Why say anything at all if that’s the case. I have seen Xi pragmatically backtrack from mistakes before.

Let’s hope that there is no thaw. It is clearly in Australia’s national interest to diversify trade ASAP.

As such, there is no good spin that one can put on Albo’s new kowtow.

About the author
David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal. He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.