China: what I said in 2006

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The big test of US-Australian relations will arrive when a choice has to be made between the stratego-military relationship with the US and the commercial relationship with China.

At the moment, in addition to bases, eavesdropping and the UKUSA relationships, Australia serves as a convenient hood ornament for US Humvees that roll into various Middle-Eastern misadventures.

Unlike many other US hood ornaments, however, Australia pays for the privilege.

It’s hard to predict exactly how China and the US will come into conflict. But it is almost inevitable that they will.

So far, China has extended its commercial reach into the world with enormous subtlety, welcomed by host nations and avoiding offending the US. China’s relationship with Australia is a good case in point.

Moreover, the Bank of China is a major purchaser of US debt, smoothing the pillow of the US as it dreams its consumerist dreams.

The most obvious flashpoint, of course, is Taiwan. But with things going so well economically, the Chinese government seeks to keep cool.

But the US always has the option of turning up the heat over Taiwan. The issue serves as an indicator of US aggressive intentions toward China. So far, the Bush Administration has also sought to keep the Taiwan issue at well below boiling point.

One point worth noting is that even if China were to renounce communism tomorrow, China would remain a strategic rival of the US, as is post-Communist Russia. This isn’t about ideology, it’s about access to markets and resources. and it’s about strategic control.

The Australian market is trifling. However, our resources are alluring. And as in WWII, Australia is close enough to Asia to be useful to the US.

But if China simply wants to pay top dollar for our stuff and to become partners in developing Australian infrastructure, why should Australia be anything but welcoming to China?

Discussant One

Greetings, future citizens of resource-rich Southern Ocean New Settlement Province!

We heartily agree that this disgraceful “Australian”/S.O.N.S.P. toadying to the imperialist Yankees must stop. Furthermore, we guarantee that future toadying to the glorious People’s Government in Beijing will be easy, convenient, and painless. After all, we’ve been in this business for 4,500 years; long-term, we’re the experts. Heck, you’ll barely even know it’s happening. How do you know it isn’t happening right now?

Once this messy little Taiwan thing is out of the way, then we can get settled down to really *talking*. We’d like that. Wouldn’t you?

The New American Century

Aussie Buddies!

Don’t listen to the People’s Republic of China. You know how violent and aggressive they are. Look at the number of countries they’ve invaded compared with the peace-loving USA! They’re dangerous because they’re so sneaky!

They want to come to your country and buy your stuff. That’s disgraceful. And what will you get in return? Money! That can’t be good for you.

Do you know what’ll happen if this keeps going on? The PRC will have the biggest economy on earth, and they will have done it without firing a shot in anger! That’s an attrocity!

The New American Century has spent squillions–Chinese squillions!–producing the biggest and best weapons systems of earth. Why doesn’t the PRC fight fair and try to take us on? They’re cheats.

I’m taking all my toys and I’m going home.

Then you won’t have any fun, will you?

Discussant Two

The big test of US-Australian relations will arrive when a choice has to be made between the stratego-military relationship with the US and the commercial relationship with China.
That choice was made a decade ago …. the Chinese won, unobtrusively, unhurriedly but they still won, regardless of what performing circus animals in Canberra might say or do. Taiwan is a Chinese problem that will be sorted out by Chinese in a Chinese fashion; meanwhile both sides of the Strait are using American and Australian perceptions of what’s going on there to further their own interests.

A more worrying question for Australia is – if push came to shove – which side would the United States be on in any irreconcilable conflict between Australia and Indonesia, should such ever occur?

Me

That choice was made a decade ago …. the Chinese won, unobtrusively, unhurriedly but they still won, regardless of what performing circus animals in Canberra might say or do.

I agree that it is government policy to give great priority to Australia’s relationship with the PRC, even in the face of US unhappiness.

However, I believe that Australia has yet to confront an important decision that forces it to choose, in the face of strong disapprobation, between the PRC and the USA.

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