May 15, 2018

China Lobby demands the end of Julie Bishop

In a sure sign that Julie Bishop is handling China well, apologists for Beijing are railing against her.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

With revelations about Chinese company ZTE’s generosity with bribes as it vies for local contracts, the China Lobby has picked an odd time to issue its latest demand: the sacking of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Undeterred by controversy around the Chinese telecoms firm, one of the Lobby’s most senior figures, former ambassador to Beijing Geoff Raby, has issued marching orders from the Middle Kingdom, where his consultancy firm is “based”.

“The Prime Minister needs to replace the Foreign Minister with someone better equipped for the demands of the job,” Raby wrote for the Financial Review at the end of a thousand-word diatribe about Australia’s relations with China, the latter’s “major diplomatic and geopolitical victories” (for the China Lobby, everything President-For-Life Xi Jinping touches turns to gold) and Bishop’s unfitness for office.

There are some good reasons for sacking Bishop — using her travel expenses to party at a polo frolic being one. But on China, she’s done her job of representing Australia’s interests superbly. And while those who argue China is constantly trying to interfere in Australian politics can draw their own conclusions from Raby’s diktats, the sensitivities displayed by Raby are a good guide to the Chinese regime’s thinking — one of the most successful parts of Clive Hamilton’s recent, overegged book on Chinese interference was how the Lobby reflexively uses Beijing’s talking points. The attack on Bishop — and by implication Malcolm Turnbull himself — suggests deep disgruntlement with Australia’s failure under the Turnbull government to comply with China’s regional aggression.

And as always, Raby has a bee in his bonnet about the Quadrilateral Dialogue, the recently re-started dialogue between Australia, the US, Japan and India. “Australia hopes to draw India in as the anchor to the Orwellian concept of the Indo-Pacific,” he wrote. We know that the adjective “Orwellian” has been subjected to rampant inflation in recent decades and now even the mildest misnomer or lily-gilding prompts claims of Big Brother and doublethink, but construing “Indo-Pacific” as “Orwellian” appears a new stretch even for the China Lobby — although one admires Raby’s chutzpah as an apologist for the world’s most brutal and corrupt tyranny invoking Orwell.

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The official line from Beijing is that there is no substance to the concept of the “Indo-Pacific” and that it will “dissipate like ocean foam” (always with the vivid metaphors, those Marxists). Raby dutifully parrots that, declaring “the Indo-Pacific as a geopolitical concept is as meaningless as the Atlanto-Pacific would be.” Thanks Geoff, we got the press release from the Foreign Ministry. But based on this, you can be sure that the Quadrilateral Dialogue and the Indo-Pacific concept is deeply rankling Beijing. Which is a sure sign that it’s in Australia’s interests to pursue it further. And it seems like Julie Bishop is the best minister to continue to do that.



Leave a comment

5 thoughts on “China Lobby demands the end of Julie Bishop

  1. brian crooks

    bishop should remember that old maxim, they who lie down with dogs get up with fleas

  2. James O'Neill

    Bernard, you should leave foreign policy commentary to those who know what they are talking about. This latest foray of yours is about the biggest load of BS you have uttered in a long time.

  3. kyle Hargraves

    “But on China, she’s done her job of representing Australia’s interests superbly.”

    Are you serious (as I believe the saying is) ? What about the irrational reaction to Vanuatu or the “all the way with .. Obomba / Donald” mentality; the previous and current events in Israel being a case in point. Bishop was warned in an article by an employee of the ABC that Australia really ought to tread the middle ground. Australia needs its most significant trading partner more that the other way about. She has not heeded that advice. Mr Turnbull’s forbearance in regard to the silly girl (one gaffe after
    another on Korea and other topics) is commendable.

    “the China Lobby has picked an odd time to issue its latest demand: the sacking of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop”

    As with most other spheres of influence “timing is of the essence”; particularly in (upper) Chinese politics. Donald and Xi have “cut a deal in regard to ZTE in everything from markets to future R&D. That one company may have bribed whomever is just by the way. Anyone remember the proceedings of the Australian Wheat Board some years ago? Didn’t think so!

    We haven’t learned and we are the last country on the planet to moralise. The NYT has more backbone than the entire country. As for venture capital or any realistic form of R&D such programmes are not going to occur any time soon especially when the
    easy option of negative-gearing exists (in almost any direction for a company).

  4. covenanter

    India is a nuclear power, it does have a very large navy, and its very own, Indian Ocean, a bit bigger than that famous mare nostrum.
    Its population is on par with China.
    Finally, Bishop is from WA, right there on that ocean, which is never going to become any sort of China Sea.
    And sitting right there in the middle of the Indo-Pacific, like some sort of giant aircraft carrier, guess who?
    All those WWII airfields, in the north, still largely intact, “covering” most of the Indonesian archipelago.
    You can see where the “Belt and Braces” tactic is coming from.

  5. AR

    Sometimes it seems that Crikey has a shitty end of the stick pool in which the losing winner has to write guff about something of which they know little and understanding less.
    Grundle’s stumbling exegeses about the ME are the all time Golden Turd but BK often vies for that unpleasant trophy.

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