EDITORIAL by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Kowtowing to China is a serious mistake
, April 8, 2017
The action of the Turnbull Government, and particularly Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, in rolling out the red carpet for China’s Premier Li Keqiang was a serious mistake, in light of the actions of the Beijing regime and serious differences between Australia and China.
During his visit, the Chinese Premier arrogantly lectured Australia on the need to separate itself from the United States, and claimed that the Beijing regime’s militarisation of artificial islands it has created in the South China Sea was for the purpose of protecting freedom of navigation.
Australian politicians who were happy to sign trade agreements with the Chinese leader were silent in the face of his blatant attempts to influence Australian foreign policy.
At the same time that the Chinese Premier was lecturing us on our foreign policy, in China the Beijing Government detained a Chinese-born academic, now a permanent resident in Australia, who has had the temerity to criticise the Chinese Government while in Australia.
It was particularly galling to discover that the Australian Government wanted to push through Parliament a resolution to ratify an extradition treaty with China that would require Australia to detain and deport people wanted by the Chinese Government.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo strongly supported the signing of the treaty.
The Government abandoned the ratification of the treaty only after it became clear that it would be opposed by Labor, the Greens, most of the minor party senators and even some Liberals.
Such a treaty would have given the Chinese Government the power to further coerce Chinese-born people in this country.
Tony Abbott told The Australian: “In my judgement, China’s legal system has to evolve further before the Australian Government and people could be confident that those before it would receive justice according to law.
“I want the best possible friendship with China, but not at the expense of our values and long-standing national interest.”
The Chinese Premier was on a whistle-stop tour of Australia and New Zealand.
While Australia is one of China’s largest trading partners and has undoubtedly obtained substantial economic benefits from the relationship, China has also been a major beneficiary of Australia as a reliable and competitive supplier of raw materials that are vital to the Chinese economy, including iron ore, coal, minerals and wool.
Australia is also a substantial supplier of quality wheat and beef to the growing markets of China.
Despite Beijing’s repeated claim that it is acting for the “Chinese people”, there is not a shred of evidence to support it.
The Chinese Communist Party resolutely refuses to hold free elections in China. Even in nominally separate Hong Kong, it insists on imposing its own candidates into key government positions, against the overwhelming opposition of the local people.
There are a number of other areas of concern.
The first is North Korea, China’s closest ally in north Asia, which is repeatedly engaged in belligerent conduct towards its neighbours, particularly South Korea and Japan.
The hereditary North Korean communist dictator, Kim Jong-un, regularly threatens military attacks on South Korea, has developed a nuclear capability and regularly launches missiles whose range covers as far as North America.
The nature of Kim’s regime was shown recently when his agents publicly assassinated the half-brother of the leader who was living in exile in Malaysia, sending a chilling message to the regime’s critics living abroad.
China, which is North Korea’s major trading partner and has military units stationed along the North Korean border, has largely ignored these provocations.
Second, the Beijing regime continues to expand its military profile, most obviously in the South China Sea, but of equal importance, in the building of a blue-water navy, with aircraft carriers, which is capable of operating as far away as the Indian Ocean.
Further, it is increasingly using its financial power, derived from its huge export industries, to acquire major economic stakes in neighbouring countries, including Australia.
Apart from its widely reported acquisition of real estate, Chinese companies in Australia now have a stake in large agricultural enterprises, including Australia’s largest beef cattle project, in abattoirs, ports (including Darwin), sugar mills and in infrastructure, including power stations.
Despite claims that China supports free trade, Australian companies are prevented from making similar acquisitions in China.
It also exercises coercive power over its nationals abroad, particularly over students studying in Australia.
The Australian Government needs to be extremely careful in its dealings with Beijing: neither subservient nor confrontational.
The actions of the Prime Minister in fawning over the Chinese Premier, and the Foreign Minister in seeking parliamentary approval for the extradition treaty, reflect a dangerous naiveté in dealing with a powerful but potentially unfriendly government.
Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.