Anyone wondering why the Liberal-National Federal Government did a U-turn on Australia’s relations with China over recent years? Wonder why Australians still aren’t enamoured with the ALP opposition, despite a government coming across as misogynist, incompetent, and prone to pandering to the whims of corporate Australia and the 1%?
Ironically, the barely concealed CCP propagandist outfit at UTS, Australia-China Relations Institute, has nailed the answers. This week a new report on ‘Australian views on the Australia-China relationship’ reveals that Australians are seeing through the Chinese propaganda with laser-like vision. Scott Morrison, the man from Marketing, has obviously twigged, but the focus group results for the ALP must still be waiting on the line.
Let’s start with the obvious one – do we have too much economic reliance on China?
It doesn’t get any more obvious than this. Australians – virtually 4 out of every 5 of us – think we are too economically reliant on China, with the chickens of that over-reliance coming home in the form of Chinese restrictions to Australian imports over the last 18 months. This is after a generation of Australia’s exposed sectors being fried alive with a currency far higher than it would otherwise have been but for Chinese commodity buys, and Australian manufacturing being exported wholesale. That is 4 out of 5 Australians are are looking for a plan of how we prepare to earn a living once China calls time on Australian iron ore exports, and tells its students to look elsewhere for their University courses. Hello Government or Opposition – come in, over……
Now that economic reliance wouldn’t need to be that much of an issue, but in the case of our largest trading partner – we simply don’t trust their government.
That 4 out of 5 who think we are over-reliant becomes 76% who overtly agree with the idea that they don’t trust the Chinese government or 92% of us who don’t actually trust them. On the one hand, this shouldn’t be that much of a shock – after all how many Australians would actually trust our government? But it goes right to the nub of concerns a lot of Australians obviously have about trusting an opaque political regime in a nation where they have no say whatsoever, where Australians do get locked up behind a mystifying legal process, and where, let’s face it, even Chinese citizens don’t seem to get that much of a say.
When it comes to issues on which they can;t trust the Chinese government, the world is our oyster. It could be run-of-the-mill corruption, or it could be treatment of Uyghurs or the Tibetans, or the protestors in Hong Kong. It could be Australian citizens locked away without much explanation in the Chinese legal system. It could be Chinese security and police types acting as crowd control at Australian universities, or keeping tabs on Chinese students in Australia. It could be the internet police state. It could be the blocking of Australian imports, or the inability to recognise that Huawei could be seen as an agent of the Chinese state. It could be the nine-dash line laying China’s claim to the South China Sea. It could be concern about what all those Chinese military aircraft are doing near Taiwan. It could be a once per century pandemic likely released from a lab. It could be bribing the Australian parliament. It could being spat on daily by wolf warriors threatening the end of Australian freedom.
The overwhelming majority of Australians would like to meet all of this with calling out bullshit when they see it. That isn’t that much of a surprise really, except perhaps to ACRI. The real mystery is in considering why the administration of a nation to whom we have sold our soul would think that this is the way to engage with us:
More than half of us disagree with the idea that our government – manifestly incompetent when it comes to handling Covid or rolling out a vaccine it may be – needs to tone things down when it comes to stating some simple home truths about Beijing. And of course, that sentiment is nowhere more pronounced than when it comes to the thought that there should be some sort of international investigation into the Origins of Covid.
The overwhelming theme of the report is that the majority of Australians have reservations about almost every aspect of Australian engagement with China. Regrettably the report also points to a degree of discomfort for Chinese Australians who have made Australia their home, with the degree of questioning of the relationship between the two nations.
But the real import of the survey and report on what Australians really think, is to underline the utter failure of the narrative Australians have been force-fed until just a short time ago – that the economic rise of China was an unquestionable good, and that in engaging more closely with China the Chinese state would adopt behaviours more like administrations in the developed Western world. The collapse of that discourse goes to the very heart of the failure of Australian politics over the course of a generation.
Australians will be going to the polls in less than a year. They will be comparing a government which is now obviously deriving political capital from the stance it has adopted towards China only within the very recent past, with an opposition which appears to be still adrift in its ability to come to terms with its own failed China narrative over a generation. Both the government and the opposition need to start explaining to the Australian people how it is they intend to position Australia’s economy for the future, and how they are going to bring about changes to facilitate that positioning, as well as which Australians are likely to bear the brunt of adjusting away from a narrative they have pushed for a generation.