What’s behind China’s Australia Retaliation?
Why did China retaliate against Australia? China our politicians and media, unprovoked, deliberately antagonize our main trading partner and our Prime Minister opine that war with China ‘is a definite possibility’?
Why has Australia ignored unusually clear messages from Beijing and continued to impose hefty duties on Chinese steel, aluminium and chemical imports, even as the Productivity Commission said there was “no convincing justifications for these measures”. More grating for the Chinese, perhaps, was that Australian Ministers continued to travel the world lecturing others on free trade, while quietly erecting sizeable tariff barriers at home. For steel pipes imported from China those tariffs are currently as high as 144 per cent. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has refused to accept that Australia’s inglorious status as one of the world’s largest users of anti-dumping measures at the World Trade Organisation might be partly responsible for this latest skirmish with Beijing.
Back in 2014, despite Australia’s Productivity Commission ruling there was “no convincing justifications for these measures”, Australia impose heavy duties on Chinese steel, aluminium and chemical imports. This is despite China reminding Australia that Australia should take the “China-Australia bilateral economic relationship into consideration”.
But China did not retaliate then. Now China Retaliates Against Australia: why?
In early June 2017 Malcolm Turnbull gave the keynote speech at a big defence conference in Singapore. He warned of China’s ambition to become the region’s leading power, and called on America and its friends and allies in Asia to block this ambition and preserve the old US-led regional order. Through this accusation, made without evidence, Australia made it clear that they were siding with the US against China, instead of being neutral.
In 2018, China launched an investigation on Australian barley and concluded that Australia’s trading practices have “caused material injury” to China’s domestic barley industry. The main issues cited were “dumping” (when a product is sold at a lower price overseas than it is in the country where it is produced) and government subsidies.
Australia did nothing other than deny the accusations.
Then last year, Australia banned Huawei 5G on the grounds that the Chinese government can force companies to supply it with any information. This ignores the fact that the Australian government has a similar law that can force companies to provide it with whatever information.
China did did not retaliate other than to object verbally. Now China Retaliates Against Australia: why?
On April 3, 2020, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in an interview with Radio 2GB that the virus originated in China and went around the world. This allegation came without any evidence (and is now proven to be false, with Covid cases appearing in Italy two months before China). Researchers find coronavirus was circulating in Italy earlier than thought
Following that allegation against China, Australia insisted that an independent investigation be conducted concerning the origins of the SARS-COV-2. Obviously, the investigation should be in China because Australia has already said that it originated from China.
If Australia was sincere in wanting an investigation to find the origins of the virus, then they should not pick on China alone. The investigation should be done anywhere in the world as necessary. This includes the US.
It was after this that China acted to place new tariffs on Australian imports. China had taken a long time to think before acting. They must have calculated the economic impact before announcing the tariffs.
And concerning the virus investigations, if Australia is sincere about wanting to find the source of the virus, why is Australia not pressuring the US to agree with an investigation that might include the US ?
Why do I suggest that the US should also be investigated? Please take a look:
Ridzwan Abdul Rahman’s answer to More than 100 countries, including China, have signed the agreement proposed by the EU to investigate the source of the COVID-19 globally. Why does the United States refuse to sign the agreement?
And more recently, even after China has clearly shown that it is not pleased with Australian action against it, some idiot in Australia spread the fake news that China is destroying thousands of mosques in Xinjiang.
Our leaders and media have vilified, calumniated, and threatened the PRC since I was a lad, but their current behavior is so egregious that China has pointed out our worst offenses:
- Foreign investment decisions, with acquisitions blocked on opaque national security grounds in contravention of ChAFTA. Since 2018, more than 10 Chinese investment projects have been rejected by Australia citing ambiguous and unfounded “national security concerns” and restricting areas like infrastructure, agriculture and animal husbandry.
- Banning Huawei Technologies and ZTE from the 5G network, over unfounded national security concerns, doing the bidding of the US by lobbying other countries, foreign interference legislation viewed as targeting China and in the absence of evidence.
- Politicization and stigmatization of the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia and creating barriers and imposing restrictions, including the revocation of visas for Chinese scholars.
- Calling for an international independent inquiry into the COV1D-19 virus, as a political manipulation echoing the US attack on China.
- Incessant wanton interference in China’s Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan affairs.
- Spearheading the crusade against China in multilateral forums
- The first non littoral country to make a statement on the South China Sea to the United Nations, siding with the US’ anti-China campaign
- Spreading disinformation imported from the US around China’s efforts of containing COV1D-19.
- Legislating scrutiny of agreements with a foreign government targeting China and aiming to torpedo Victoria’s participation in B&R
- Providing funding to anti-China think tanks for spreading untrue reports, peddling lies around Xinjiang and so-called China infiltration aimed at manipulating public opinion against China
- Early dawn search and reckless seizure of Chinese journalists’ homes and properties without charges or explanations
- Thinly veiled allegations against China of cyber attacks without any evidence
- Outrageous condemnation of the governing party of China by NGOs
- Racist attacks against Chinese and Asian people.
- Unfriendly and antagonistic reports on China by media that poison the atmosphere of bilateral relations
Between 2015-2020, China lowered tariffs on Australian products for six consecutive years. Ninety-five percent of the products we sell to China now enjoy zero tariffs. On Singles Day alone, 2,000 Australian businesses sold over US$720 million worth of goods to Chinese customers in 24 hours–yet the Australian government has been politicizing trade and investment issues, and constantly violating market principles by discriminating against Chinese companies.
Since 2018, it has rejected a dozen Chinese investment programs on the pretext of ‘national security concerns,’ rejections that led directly to large Chinese losses. Even more significantly, it banned Chinese companies from 5G network construction, citing spurious ‘national security’ threats. It initiated one-hundred six anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations of Chinese products, compared to four such Chinese cases on goods from Australia.
China sees a pattern of bad-faith dealings, negative discrimination, and unprovoked hostility and, lest others emulate us, has chosen to air its grievances. Now China Retaliates Against Australia.
Neither our government nor media has offered a reasoned defence, “The 14 items identified by the Chinese embassy document are seen by the Department of Foreign Affairs as key to Australia’s national interest and non-negotiable”. DFAT said the government makes “sound decisions in our national interest and in accordance with our values and open democratic processes”. The defence, in other words, rests–perhaps wisely, since the allegations are substantially correct.
So why did they do it?
Stupidity. Our pols are dysfunctional, amoral, heartless liars, self-destructive, other-destructive sociopaths. Cunningly stupid, attentive to personal advancement and heedless of the society in which they live, they have repeatedly jettisoned our collective future–NBN, defense, 5G–for personal advancement.
Ignorance. Most know literally less than nothing about China, thanks to foreign-controlled media; an academy poisoned by religious nutters like Santamaria and Simon Leys; and security services and think tanks beholden to foreign powers. How many know that there are more hungry children, drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, and imprisoned people in America than in China? Or that China is one of the top three democracies, a leader in human rights, and overmatches the US militarily? Or–more pertinently–that it will add $2.4 trillion to its economy next year, more than the entire world’s growth combined?
Racism. As the great 20th century thinker Gavin McGregor observed, racism changes our collective thinking. While not an overt premise (whoever says, ‘in this situation we should apply our racial prejudice’?), it changes what is ‘logical’. Vide our treatment of Adam Goodes. Chinese Australian friends report one hundred racist incidents each month, of which ninety-nine are ignored. As racist as Boers but lacking their refreshing bluntness, we deny that we are repelled by the thought of being led by yellow-skinned, slanty-eyed people.
Factionalism. Logic, commonsense, and national self-preservation are irrelevant to those whose only concern is funding reelections and who have always employed foreign threats to justify their advancement and our immiseration.
Capitalism. Russia’s ancient tradition of economic incompetence doomed its socialism, but China’s sophisticated governance threatens the global capitalists who control our banks, media, and militaries and which our governments have always served.
Our future appears bleak. President-elect Biden’s expected Defense Secretary Michele Flournoy says the US military needs “the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours”. His choice for Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, plans to “coalesce skeptical international partners into a new competition with China”, and said he will “fully enforce the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.” His choice for National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan is a Peter Navarro-like China hawk who believes that signs are “unmistakable and ubiquitous that Beijing is gearing up to contest America’s global leadership”.
What is to be Done?
There is little to choose between our major parties and others, like the Australian Citizens Party, that advocate Australian development and self-interest, struggle to be heard. P&I readers can future-proof themselves by studying the Chinese government’s statements. According to their people (and my sixty years’ spent observing them), they keep their promises and do not lie.