The World Moves On, Yet Australia Clings to a Dangerous Past

There are many definitions of stupid, but acting against one’s interests, on either a personal or national level, must rank as among the more significant. It is certainly among the most of contemporary relevance. It is no better personified than in the current extraordinary anti-China campaign being waged by politicians of all the major parties and their adherents in the media. One hesitates to call them “analysts” because the contemporary examples of Australian journalism are anything but analytical. This applies with particular force in contemporary commentary, both political and journalistic, on China.

A brief view of history provides some perspective. China was the most important nation in the world for millennia. This was not only because of its population which has always been a significant factor in world demographics. Today, the population of the People’s Republic of China represents approximately one in five of all humans on the planet. To this has to be added the tens of millions of people of Chinese heritage scattered all around the planet, including Australia with more than 1,200,000 (2016 census) citizens and residents of Chinese ethnicity. Senator Abetz of Tasmania seriously miscalculated the negative effect of his demand that MPs of Chinese ethnicity undergo loyalty tests.

The Chinese themselves refer to the “100 years of humiliation” by which they mean the period from the mid 19th to the mid 20th centuries when they were subjected to ravages of European imperialism. Those ravages took many forms, including the fact that in 1900 1:7 Chinese adults were addicted to heroin. Completely missing in contemporary teeth gnashing by the British over their “loss” of Hong Kong is the fact that the British were the main source of that heroin, grown then, as now, in one of their main objectives of imperialism, Afghanistan.

Today, the United States has replaced the British in controlling the Afghan heroin trade with about 75% of the annual production exported by the CIA. In this venture they are assisted by their Australian colleagues, a fact that never appears in the Australian mainstream media. Perhaps one should not be too harsh on the Australian mainstream media. After all, it took them a decade to report on the allegations of Australian troops murdering Afghanistan civilians.

Apart from the immensely lucrative heroin trade, the Americans are still in Afghanistan 18 years after their illegal invasion, for other reasons. They are likely to remain there, despite Trump’s periodic claims about getting out because Afghanistan, apart from its lucrative heroin exports, also shares borders with a number of other countries on the United States hit list. China is only one of these, but the Americans are also eyeing the other “stans” as part of the anti-China campaign.

The latest United States ploy aimed against China is promoting the so-called Group of Four, the nations of Japan, India and Australia in addition to the United States itself as the foundation of a form of Asian NATO. China is the obvious target, in the same way Russia is the main target of the original NATO, the members of which now extend all the way to Russia’s borders.

One reaction to this relentless pressure has been ever closer ties between China and Russia, together with the building of multiple economic and geopolitical frameworks to counter the relentless pressure of the United States and its allies. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is but one of those counter groupings and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Belt and Road Initiative now has more than 150 members.

Australia is now discovering that its relentless adherence to the American anti-China campaign carries its own price tag. This year has seen the restriction of several Australian exports to China by the Chinese government. They will not be the last. Which brings one back to the original point made at the start of this commentary. What rational country goes out of its way to offend its largest trading partner (by a very big margin) which is also the largest source (until this year) of both foreign students and foreign tourists?

The ability to find alternative markets is not as easy as some glib political promises would suggest. The current Covid crisis makes the successful search for alternative markets exponentially more difficult. The political reaction has been exactly what one could have foreshadowed: a combination of denial; vague promises about remedying the situation; and an even more vain hope that the United States will somehow rescue Australia from this predicament.

This is almost a perfect definition of reality denial. It overlooks a number of (for the Australian government) inconvenient facts. First and foremost is a vain clinging to the belief that the United States will somehow come to the rescue. Those optimists ignore a number of salient facts, including the extraordinary vulnerability of the United States economy and its capacity to escape economic reality, of which the latest United States government financial deficit (up more than $2 trillion this year alone) is but one example.

A second reality that western commentators relentlessly ignore or deny is that Russian and Chinese military technology is vastly superior to anything the United States and its allies can bring to bear. The positive side of that development is that the United States is unlikely to launch any direct shooting war against either Russia or China as it would invite a total and devastating response. The negative element is that it encourages the United States and its allies, such as Australia, to engage in political and civil disruption in countries on the Russian and Chinese borders. There have been multiple instances of that this year alone.

All of this posturing, sabotage, internal disruption activities and multiple other quasi- military activity has an impact. It will undoubtably continue to be a source of irritation and de-stabilisation to the targeted countries. It cannot, however, reverse the overwhelming nature of world geopolitical trends. China is, and has been for at least a decade, the world’s largest economy as measured in parity purchasing power. Ignore the largely meaningless, for international comparative purposes, of gross domestic product.

The Belt and Road Initiative is but one of a number of major economic programs that are transforming the world. It is succeeding and expanding despite relentless Western propaganda that it is all part of some cunning Chinese plot to enslave the signatories in debt bondage. For real examples of that one has to look no further than the United States-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank, two prime vehicles for ensuring debt slavery and national bondage.

Australia has had the opportunity to take a different and independent path, reflecting the enhancement of its true national interests. Judging from the commentary from politicians of all political persuasions, and the mainstream media, that opportunity will not be taken. The Australian people will be the true losers from this inability to see the world as it really is, rather than through the spectrum of a banal Western grouping who desperately want to defeat the march of history.

James O'Neill is a retired Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He can be contacted at Read other articles by James.