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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