Nov 23, 2017

Foreign policy white paper sure to enrage China lobby

Despite the wrath of the China lobby, the government has dealt competently with China's growing militarism and attempts to interfere in the region, including Australia.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

So farewell, "Asia-Pacific". You had a good run as a key trope of Australian foreign policy -- a quarter of a century, with deep commitment from Paul Keating, rather less enthusiasm from John Howard, then a final flourish under Julia Gillard. It's time to make way for a new foreign policy trope, "Indo-Pacific", which will make its debut in today's foreign policy White Paper. At the current rate of continental drift, we'll have circled the globe by 2150.

The shift in terminology is likely one of several factors that will cause the China lobby in Australia to erupt in anger over what will be portrayed as an insult to Beijing in the White Paper. And, as the media has increasingly documented, there is a China lobby very active in Australian public affairs. Once confined to DFAT, it has now expanded deep into the community and political system, courtesy of the diligent efforts of local Chinese diplomats, Chinese donations to and courtship of politicians on both sides, and our self-destructive reliance on foreign students to provide the kind of funding for our higher education system that government should be providing. There is also a strong China lobby in business ranks, from the idiot fringe -- in 2012 Clive Palmer theatrically boycotted a reception for Barack Obama to demonstrate his pro-China affection -- to Australia's most powerful figures like Kerry Stokes.

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26 thoughts on “Foreign policy white paper sure to enrage China lobby

  1. old greybearded one

    On the whole I much prefer India and by ignoring the closer Pacific, the nitwits Howard and the other Libs have given China a free kick. If China means well in the long run, I am a rhinoceros. They have a lot of humiliation to revenge. We also need to shake Bob Carr up a bit as well as his cronies. I am sick of crawling to China, we gain no benefit and no respect.

    1. Dion Giles

      Crawling to evil is Bob Carr’s forte. Not only to the Peking thugs but also to the genocidal Indos. Recall how on TV he persistently “corrected” the term “West Papua” to “the two provinces” to remain subservient to those who murdered Aussie journos at Balibo.

  2. [email protected]

    You say China “the most brutal regime on the planet” but implicitly concede that Russia is much the same and the the US, under current leadership, is more reckless and dangerous (not to mention the many more brutal but less powerful regimes). We need to look out for ourselves, which entails recognizing that China is a great power and treading carefully.

    1. [email protected]

      China is a great power – a great brutal, big brother authoritarian dictatorship power.

  3. [email protected]

    This is all noise and no action. The CCP already owns both sides of Australian politics, and they bought our pollies cheaply, too!
    The China lobby have given the WA “Julie Bishop Glorious Foundation” $450,000 already to buy influence.
    Bob Carr and Andrew Robb are also sitting pretty on China lobby money.
    Christina Keneally’s Bennelong attempt is being financed by Chinese property developers.

  4. James O'Neill

    Crikey’s weakest area has always been foreign policy, and this one-eyed list of allegations against China further proves the point.
    You allege that China is the “most brutal regime on the planet”. How is that measured? If one looks at people killed as a direct result of government policy, then the US holds that title by a very large margin: at least 30 million killed since 1945.
    “Suppression of human rights”. Ask American Indians, or the US Black population about suppression of human rights and listen carefully to the answers, and that is even before one lists all the dictatorships around the world that the US has supported, including currently, among many others, Saudi Arabia. I would be happy to argue for China’s record on human rights against that os the Saudis.
    “Rejection of the rule of law”? Again, international comparisons do not favour your argument. Waging illegal wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria (with the enthusiastic support of Australia) on false pretexts in this decade alone does not exactly equate with respect for the rule of law, which includes, you appear to have forgotten, Articles 2, 4 and 51 of the UN Charter.
    “Desire for hegemony?” It was the Americans who produced a document arguing for “full spectrum dominance” and noting in their foreign policy over the past 72 years would argue against that.
    “Militarisation of the South China Sea.?” China has constructed 8 artificial islands within a zone (“the 9 Dash line”) first identified by the Chiang Kai Shek government in 1947, two years before the PRC came into existence. The government of Taiwan makes exactly the same claims as does the PRC government, something Australian commentators neglect to mention, just as they ignore Vietnam’s militarisation of 8 atolls.
    “Mass surveillance?” You are obviously unaware of the admitted extent of the NSA’s snooping on everyone, including US citizens.
    Or compare foreign bases: US between 800 and 1000; China 1.
    Or countries invaded since WW2: US more than 70, China Nil.
    In short, your argument is an ignorant hit piece, bereft of logic, historical knowledge, or even a basic grasp of modern day geopolitics. Can you even cite one example of where the west has sought to match China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a huge project that will bring benefits to scores of countries.
    It is obvious from the White Paper that there will be no improvement in the long history of Australian ignorance about Asia, and any hope of persuading the government in a different direction is not because of the alleged “China lobby” but because of stupid arguments put forward such as in this article.

    1. Nudiefish

      James, I’m an old lefty from way back and have no love for US foreign policy, but this ain’t a competition on nasty. True, they yanks do it by default on everything they touch. You are quite right, but China will make them look like raw amateurs if it gets a chance. For my money it’s probably already too late to do much to stop it.

      I for one welcome our new mighty Overlords!

    2. [email protected]

      Are you kidding? People killed by the US in your statistics includes wars that were fully backed and instigated by China and Russia. I am not saying the US is innocent, but do you know how many people have been killed by the Communists in China – not to mention imprisoned and tortured into re-education? Please. People do not flee the US regularly because they have been tortured in jail. Sorry. Doesn’t happen. Has been happening for decades with people from mainland China. Why do you think? When it is harder to get a Visa out of China than it is to get a Visa out of the US? Hmm?
      People routinely are disappeared in China to this day. People are very obviously tortured into video taped confessions – it is sick and brutal. No free country has these common incidents. But China does. That is brutality – to its own people for heaven’s sake.

      Even if the US “brutally” killed 30 million – what have you learned about the numbers who just starved under the brutal Mao regime in China? Apparently, not much. Which tells me where you were educated. Not in a free Western country.

      1. Dion Giles

        Some of America’s engagement in war was in the world struggle against the aggression of the Hun and Jap scum of the earth in the 1940s. And even during that war the NeoCon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was working behind the scenes to turn the war against our Soviet allies and implant the antidemocratic European Union (Google ) which the British are only now scraping off their shoe.

        1. Dion Giles

          The system elided my Google link. It’s European Union CIA.

    3. dirtysnowball

      Countries invaded since WW2 is nil? Really?
      I mean, if you want to get into the whataboutery the Chinese have a lot fewer than the Americans, but still, you honestly think it’s zero?

      1. graybul

        “This bickering over which is worse; China or US is simply stupid.” . . . well said Will.

    4. andrew westerman

      Well said.

    5. Janno

      Thanks James. I rather appreciate knowledge and evidence based articles.

  5. Grumpy Old Sod

    So Bernard is still happy with ‘all the way with LBJ’? Any thought of a quasi, let alone semi or heaven help us an independent foreign policy is beyond him. We must stick with a people that regularly interferes with other countries elections, is almost continually at war (228 of its 239 years in existence at war somewhere or other), is overseeing the destruction of its own country through these wars by destroying its middle class and allowing its critical infrastructure to fall into disrepair as well as threaten nations that are trying to lift themselves from the mire that predatory colonialism and equally predatory neo-liberal economics have placed them. Add to that you have the cheek to call Russia a dictatorship. Tell Vladimir Zhirinovsky that and he’ll laugh at you as his right wing party is a serious opposition to Putin and could take power if Putin does not stand for the Presidential elections of next year as is being speculated there in their so-called ‘controlled’ press. Some dictatorship!
    And while we’re at it, let us here not cast the first stone. We have a media (Crikey not withstanding) that is seriously in the orbit of our poor cousins in the US and that couldn’t analyse its way out of a wet paper bag and thus is prone to all sorts of distractions that keep its eye off the main game which is the protection of our people and our weakening democracy. Other than Crikey in this case and a few honourable others, where are the main stream criticisms of the humanitarian disaster which is happening under our watch and our flag in Manus? Where are the questions about our totally illegal wars in Syria and Iraq just for two examples of hundreds that could be given.

    As James O’Neill points out in John Menadue’s blog, Pearls and Irritations (which is a must read if you really do want to read independent Australian thinking), we had the chance to join in one of the greatest projects this century will see, the One Road initiative and we, par to form, declined. Total stupidity!

    1. Y.W.

      We interfere with other people’s elections when the elections are not democratic. For the most part.

      China doesn’t interfere so that wicked dictators will support them and their investments.

      1. Grumpy Old Sod

        Yeah. I believe in the Easter Bunny too.

  6. Will

    This bickering over which is worse, China or the US, is simply stupid. They’re obviously both as guilty as hell of any number of horrendous sins. Australia though is a democracy, we live under the rule of law and not the whim of a ruling party, and our overwhelming national interest lies incontestably with protecting that. It won’t be easy, because our future economic wellbeing is totally tied up with China, and its ruling regime has little tolerance for either dissent or disagreement, let alone democracy. So I’m with Bernard on this. When Australian governments abuse human rights we all feel it as a betrayal. When the Chinese government abuses human rights we all know that’s down to its DNA.

  7. graybul

    Surely Bishop’s foreign policy white paper storyline should not be about which alpha mongrel one might favour over another? Knowing the truths of Bernard’s final two paragraphs and the discussion yet to fully surface related to US military ‘occupation’ of the nation’s Top End (never mind the secret men’s business located near ‘Alice’). Has Bishop struck the best balance?

    Australia is a young nation, but we no longer view ourselves as juvenile. We have been tutored by some of the best ‘dominators’ the world has seen. We have regional friends and therefore options, other than to continue to ‘patch’ ourselves forever as a deputy sheriff to one or another ‘top gun’. Sure it’s scary when first branch out on your own. But no one in their right mind i.e. historically; believes even the mightiest, one day won’t fall? Frankly, on balance Bishop’s white paper presents as a little lazy, if not gutless. There is no stopping the pace of world change on many levels other than the ‘big boys’ butting their heads. China has the advantage as an emerging titan. The US increasingly harried by diverse ‘growths’ attached to their ship of State. And unrest, uncertainty quietly rampant amongst the second tier nations. What was it? Fourteen years since the last White paper was issued.

    Truly Australia needs vision, confidence and regional cooperation. Adults accept responsibility and by so accepting, may shape our own future.

    1. Duncan Gilbey

      “…Australia needs vision… Adults accept responsibility …”

      In that case, we’re rooted.

    2. Dion Giles

      It also needs recognisable principles. It could for example reverse Nixon’s choice of recognising Peking instead of Taipei as the legitimate government of what they both insist is “One China”. Taiwan has long been democratic and free of the grip of the Kuomintang bandits. How about Australia being proclaimed as an island of decency in a sea of corrupt dictatorships like Indonesia and Burma ruled from behind the scenes by brass hat criminals who can never be brought to justice?

  8. AR

    No surprises or new thoughts in this boilerplate, hot off the telex from Langley VA.
    This country has a population so ignorant that 40%+ still believe in (different & mutually antagonistic) sky fairies and their earthbound agents telling them which orifices are OK, with another 40%+ who, for logic defying reasons, consistently vote for policies utterly inimical to their own best interests and a commercial class who strip mined the bourgeois basis on which the national prosperity (and minimal chances of independence) relied.
    “We Warn the Tzar”!

  9. Ben Reichstein

    “The alliance has saved Australia countless billions in additional defence expenditure, albeit at a terrible cost of lives lost in pointless US wars we joined in as the price for US protection.” – what an astonishing thing to write. What is the US’s endless 15 year war in the Middle East if not mass murder and brutal human rights abuses on a vast scale?

  10. Linda Connolly

    Hello hello! How can anyone (including DFAT) write about current & future international relations & not MENTION climate change & its implications. Future water & food supplies conflicts will make our war adventures under US look like Sunday School. China will plan ahead for benefit of China. Rest of us are fucked.

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