A new China dill emerges

I have pointed out the inherent anti-Americanism of James Curran, Professor of Modern History at Sydney University, a few times before. Today he returns with more of the same:

  • Robert Menzies blundered horribly when he back Britain in the Suez crisis.
  • The parallels today with Australia’s “questions of identity” regarding China are “uncomfortable”.
  • “Morrison is now as fixated on the Americans as Menzies was on the British.”

Readers will recall I recently took on this argument when it was also made by Niall Fergusson and equally filled with errors:

  • A Taiwan conflict could be the equivalent of the Suez crisis for the British Empire when it was exposed as a paper tiger.
  • When Britain failed to take it back there was a run on the pound.
  • The US probably wouldn’t fight the Taiwan war. It would probably fail to rally boycotts.
  • It would confirm Chinese hegemony in Asia, breach the first island chain and hand semiconductor production to the CCP.
  • It would trigger a run on US treasuries and US dollar, ending the US empire.

As I said at the time, this is melodramatic stuff:

  • In 1956, the UK was an irrelevant 6% of global GDP. Today the US is a still dominant one-quarter of it and well over half of global equity.
  • Sure, US public debt is approaching similar levels to post-war UK but there is no servicing issue and it is not on its Pat Malone which matters to forex.
  • Any time that China invades Taiwan over the next decade it will be shockingly outmatched in blue water naval capacity anywhere more than few kilometers from the Taiwan coast. How, exactly, is the Chinese empire going to police its own commodity and trade supply chains?
  • The first thing that the US will do if China blockades Taiwan is to counter-blockade Chinese maritime trade routes.
  • If China invades, the second thing that the US will do is bomb TSMC out of existence just as Churchill sank the French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir when France fell to the Nazis. Why do we think that Intel, TSMC and Samsung are currently planning $80bn in new semiconductor factories on the US mainland?

So on and so forth. Historical analogies of falling empires are easy to find. Analogies that also happen to yoke differing outcrops of similar cultures are particularly attractive to the racially obsessed.

But that does not make them accurate.

The US liberal empire is vastly more strong than the British version in 1956. China’s illberal empire is an impressive competitor but it has many more structural deficiencies than does the US including its demographics, development model, tawdry alliances, commodity vulnerabilities and illiberalism. That means it will very likely be much more challenged in its ongoing rise than the US will be in protecting its patch.

Curran’s dismissal of the battle of ideas that underpins the collapse of Sino-Australian relations is typical of this ilk: Hugh White, Geoff Raby, Jane Golley, Stan Grant etc. All are economically limited, fear-mongering and prone to a partial analysis that sees the rise of the Chinese economy, as well as Australia’s exposure to it, as inevitable and irreplaceable.

Deliberate or not, this is a perfect match with CCP propaganda. It was not China that made Australia what it is today. It was liberalism. Liberalism was here before China when we were already rich. And it will be here afterward, to keep us rich.

Protecting that is not some peripheral identity issue. It is everything.

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


  1. Australia doesn’t deserve the USA as an ally and pretty soon they won’t have one.

  2. A good article, but the problem with your conclusion “It was not China that made Australia what it is today. It was liberalism.”
    is that Australia is no longer a liberal country. It is a big-government, indebted economic co-operation zone, full of corruption and special deals for mates. Many of the services that government provided are now gone, or owned by vested interests.
    Furthermore, the society is divided among ethnic and woke groups, most of whom will not sacrifice anything more than an outraged Tweet for the land they live in. We’re easy pickings.

    • China did that more to Australia than any other force.

      Australia is still a liberal country despite the corruption. Cripes, is there a Chinese MB?.

      We have our problems but they are ours and we can fix them. China only makes them worse.

      • surfbeach2536

        Exactly, the Libs are not doing anything they don’t have to, to avoid getting the blame when things go wrong.

      • He totally contradicts himself on the big government rhetoric.

        Australia is very neoliberal.

  3. The blue water navy thing is critical. China relies on sea borne trade for pretty much everything. It can lock up the South China Sea tighter than a fishes bum, but how will it stop a far blockade outside it’s region of influence?

    Lots of dimwits see the USN charging into the Chinese littoral, where all of their carrier battle groups will be sunk by hypersonic missiles. That would happen if the USN is run by imbeciles…which may be true but seems unlikely. Far more likely is that the US won’t fight the Chinese navy on their own turf….they’ll do it in the Indian and Eastern Pacific oceans where the Chinese navy hardly exists.

    I think the Chinese are stuffed, long term. Robert D Kaplan’s book “The Revenge of Geography” provides good insights into why America is and will continue to be powerful just because of where it physically is in the world and how the country is laid out, and conversely why China will also struggle for the same reasons.

    • Lord DudleyMEMBER

      Yup, this. The US can’t control the South China Sea, but China can’t control anywhere else. I also suspect that if the PLA attempts to invade Taiwan, they’ll have massive problems with Taiwan being able to sink substantial numbers of ships in the Taiwan Strait.

    • The FNG.MEMBER

      Im not expert but I remember China being the single largest importer of middle east oil? So you stop the oil at the Strait of Hormuz and China will be a zombie apocalypse in 6 weeks???

      What am I missing here?

      • Nothing really. That’s pretty much the story. Not to mention Australian (and other) iron ore, etc…

        China makes its money (and hence obtains power) by importing raw ingredients and transforming them into manufactured products which they sell to the world. If no raw ingredients come in what are they gonna do? If nobody buys their products, what do they do? March on Moscow perhaps?

    • blacktwin997MEMBER

      LSW i owe you a big thumbs up for the Kaplan recommendation – it is a great read and very instructive, thankyou.

      If you haven’t read it, i’d reciprocally recommend ‘Food or War’ by Julian Cribb. It’s a sobering read and also illustrates another dimension in which the Chinese are snookering themselves. Also very much worth checking out is Daniel Yergin’s ‘The Prize’ if you have space in your book list and haven’t read it.

    • Not sure the US carriers would be sunk by Chinese missiles. It took the US Navy weeks of firing on the USS America before they gave up and scuttled her. These super carriers aren’t wasy to sink.

      • Because nobody else had big carriers the US never developed carrier killing missiles. Their cruise missiles like the Harpoon are pretty feeble. Everybody else went big. Have a look at the SSN-27 Sizzler. https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/ss-n-27-sizzler/ Now that’s a missile…operated by Russian…Iran…China. And it’s pretty old in the scheme of things.

        This thing is the size of a telegraph pole and travels Very Quickly Indeed at wavetop level. I’ve seen footage of a test strike, and it’s a bloody fearsome weapon.

        The power projected by a carrier group lies in the air wing. You don’t need to sink the carrier…just create enough damage to prevent the air wing from launching and that’s a mission kill.

  4. “they’ll do it in the Indian and Eastern Pacific oceans”
    Fighting the invisible enemy? LOL

    • My point being that (if they have any brains at all) they’ll fight the Chinese where the Chinese are scattered and weak. The South China Sea is a Chinese fortress and a very fearsome proposition, outside that area the weak Chinese navy will nothing but a bunch of tasty snacks.

      As for their fortified islands…LoL. The advantage that a Carrier has is mobility. If you look at a tiny fortified island, it’s like a carrier with a broken engine. The standard name for a Chinese fortified island is “precisely located target”. If/when the shooting starts, all those islands will be piles of smoking rubble within a few minutes.

    • Anders Andersen

      I don’t get your point. If it gets to this stage the Chinese don’t win, we all lose!

    • I feel the earth move under my feet
      I feel the sky tumbling down, a-tumbling down
      I feel the earth move under my feet
      I feel the sky tumbling down, a-tumbling down
      I just a-lose control
      Down to my very soul
      I get-a hot and cold
      All over, all over, all over, all over