My conclusion was that, regardless of whether or not either party wishes to admit it, in a very real sense we probably are.
If one accepts that hypothesis, there are a range of common sense actions that should follow, at the very least, to prevent the status quo from deteriorating further and to reduce the risk of further hostile actions.
The problem, quite common in western democracies, is the election cycle tends to reward politicians who practice realpolitik, rather than taking a more principled approach to hostile foreign powers.
An example of this can be seen today with many on the Remain side of the Brexit debacle; the evidence is overwhelming that the EU negotiators have not been operating under good faith (an example is the use of the Good Friday Peace Agreement as leverage), yet many of the key players in the British parliament are behaving as if Micawberistic optimism will win the day. To suggest we’ll get a deal after three years of being told non and nien makes something will turn up seem almost pragmatic and sensible.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Flying back from Munich with worthless pieces of paper only to have to say, “bugger it” and open up the armoury the following year is in the British national DNA.
Australia’s too, it would seem.
The Lucky Country’s peace for our time moment seems to be playing out currently with barely a day going by without another story emerging about inappropriate Chinese state influence in Australian domestic politics.
Before we continue, there are a couple points to be clarified:
- When I refer to “the Chinese”, I’m referring to the state government and its agents, not the ethnic identity.
- It’s my belief that there’s very little distinction to be made between the Chinese government and large Chinese corporations. They may be nominally privately-owned and independent but, if you believe that to be true, I’ve a terracotta army I’d like to sell to you.
I wish to present four pieces of evidence supporting my position that we are not dealing with a good faith actor when we do business at a national or corporate level with the Chinese:
- China believed to be behind hack of Australian National University.
- “State actor” believed to be behind hack of Australian national parliament computers (ok, it doesn’t name China but we all know who they mean).
- Australian MP bribed by Chinese businessmen.
- Ex-pat Chinese government party member, now an Australian MP, can’t recall ever being a member….. for 12 years.
It’s not the fact these things have happened and are continuing to happen, it’s the dog that isn’t barking that is most concerning.
Look at the reporting of the statements coming from the various Australian government officials and opposition party leaders. It’s as if China was a synonym for Voldemort.
The most recent incident, for example; it’s a member of the Australian federal government with deep and enduring links to a foreign power, yet the official response is nothing to see here, move on.
It’s almost as if, I dunno, nobody has the testicular fortitude to mention the name of the government that always seems to be interfering in Australian domestic affairs in case, horror of horrors, they take their money away and spend it elsewhere.