Who knows? All of the evidence says not. But it needs to happen, at the AFR is former Costello staffer David Alexander:
The benign view of the rise of authoritarian China, a view underpinning three decades of policymakers pressing for ever greater integration with that country, suffered a mortal blow when the superpower handed over its list of 14 grievances against Australia…What the 14 grievances made clear was that authoritarian China expected Australia to fundamentally subsume its rights as an independent liberal democratic country and bow to Chinese government interests.
…The collapse of the benign China assumption has been difficult for Australian policymaking elites to process. Our integration with China was supposed to provide us with security, and now it’s being used against us. The author and prime promoter of Australian integration with Asia, Paul Keating, has become increasingly intemperate as the cracks in his vision have grown wider…Keating’s praise for the Chinese government has become extreme in recent years (‘‘the best government in the world in the last 30 years. Full stop’’). He belittles the concern that Australians have about authoritarianism (‘‘Don’t get too hung up on the words democrat and democracy’’). He has insulted our security agency chiefs for combating Chinese interference in our political system (‘‘the nutters are in charge’’) and called for the Australian government to ‘‘clean them out’’. He has said Australia should ‘‘cut the tag’’ with United States’ foreign policy and seek a better relationship with China.
The bullying of Australia by the regional superpower raises wider questions about the Keating drive to integrate and redefine ourselves as an Asian country. Are we being drawn – or pushed – into a Sinosphere of authoritarian influence that is fundamentally inimical to our values and interests? Why would we want to be an Asian country if that means being forced by the regional hegemon to forgo our liberal democratic nature?
Whether it is Asian engagement is beside the point. It could be Martian engagement and the conclusion would be the same. It is self-evident that Australia can have no part in it. As it would be to any free people. Indeed, Australians see it precisely this way:
That it is not self-evident to the Australian Labor Party or the ABC tells you just one thing: the CCP chokehold on their collective imaginations is strong.
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