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In the interest of full disclosure – Scott Morrison’s salute to China

With Scott Morrison in full attack mode about comments made by Richard Marles regarding China, it seems only fair to give Morrison’s views equal air time.

The following is an excerpt from his 2019 speech “Where we live“, delivered at the University of Melbourne Asialink conference.

“Like all of us, China and the US have a strong interest, and a special responsibility, to modernise and support the system that has delivered unprecedented growth in national wealth and living standards over the last two decades.

We can support these efforts and outcomes by rejecting the fatalism of increased polarisation and resisting the analysis that only sees these issues through a binary prism.

It is in no-one’s interest in the Indo-Pacific to see an inevitably more competitive US-China relationship become adversarial in character.

All nations in our region, not just Australia, are having to adjust to this period of great power competition. All of us are similarly seeking to balance our interests, our history, our geography, our alliances, our partnerships and aspirations in the context of this new dynamic.

We will continue to lead by example, developing our close web of relationships across and within the Indo-Pacific.

This year we hope to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, an agreement that includes 16 economies and accounts for about one-third of global GDP.

To conclude the agreement when leaders meet in Bangkok in November this year, I would urge leaders to send their Trade Ministers to the meeting next month in Beijing with a clear mandate to deal.

My Government is also committed to further enhancing our relationship with China.

Our relationship with China has many strengths.

Our trading relationship is flourishing, with two-way trade reaching a remarkable $215 billion in 2018, which benefits both countries.

Our cooperation with China through our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership goes well beyond economic issues.

We are working together across fields including health, education, and taxation, where Australia offers world-class expertise.

We’ve also been cooperating successfully to counter drug trafficking through Taskforce Blaze.

There is more we can do. That’s why we established the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations earlier this year.

The Foundation will strengthen areas where we already cooperate, deepen the already rich links across our communities, and help identify new areas for practical cooperation.

While we will be clear-eyed that our political differences will affect aspects of our engagement, we are determined that our relationship not be dominated by areas of disagreement.

The decisions we make in relation to China are based solely on our national interests, just as theirs are towards Australia, and these are sometimes hard calls to make.

But they are designed always to leave large scope for cooperation on common interests and recognise the importance of China’s economic success.

This success is good for China, it is good for Australia.

We welcome Chinese investment.

We have welcomed it for decades.

The stock of Chinese investment in Australia in 2018 was more than 8 times larger than a decade ago, and China is our ninth largest investor behind the USA, Japan, UK and the Netherlands.

Australia has the most liberal foreign investment regime in our region. It is not possible for Australians to invest in China in the way Chinese investments are made here. Perhaps this will change, but our policy is not framed in the context of reciprocity, but national interest.

We retain our sovereignty over these investments, especially in relation to strategic and national security considerations, but where such issues are satisfied, we would be only harming our own economic interests if we were to deny our economy access to this capital.

That is why we operate a non-discriminatory approach to investment screening.

And I note that all nations, including China, screen foreign investment.

The infrastructure needs of the region are enormous and Australia welcomes the contribution that the Belt and Road Initiative can make to regional infrastructure investment and to regional development.

We support regional investments with commercial merit that meet genuine market need and international standards, including on transparency and debt sustainability.”

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14 comments

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  1. John Hanna

    Yes, but that was all before he was told what to do by Mike Pompeo. Of course he has followed instructions, and bought submarines and tanks for the ensuing battles.

  2. Kaye Lee

    Ahhh yes, the tanks.

    “Australia’s last deployment of tanks was in the Vietnam War and tanks wouldn’t be useful in a major conflict in the Asia–Pacific, which would likely be fought mainly by air and naval assets.

    Compounding the issue is that at 70 tonnes the Abrams tanks are notoriously heavy—and the SEPv3 models are even heavier. They’re too heavy for our amphibious landing boats and for many of the underdeveloped or degraded roads and bridges in our near region, as well as in large parts of northern Australia.”

    Australia’s new tanks are overkill and overweight

    It was also before Marise Payne decided to accuse China about the pandemic on tv. Gee that worked well.

  3. Harry Lime

    Hasn’t everything gone swimmingly well under the brilliant ‘leadership’ of the Prime Fool? Is there anything he has done,or left undone, that hasn’t gone to shit? Besides, whatever he said yesterday remains there.Every day presents the opportunity for new lies,or the chance to repeat old ones depending on what tenuous links he can use to cast aspersions on his detractors.May 21 can’t come soon enough.

  4. New England Cocky

    The hidden agenda item is the Cashless Debit Card influence upon unknowing aged pensioners to restrict their spending capacity and force them into penury so that present welfare spending may be ”better utilised” making ex gratia payments to foreign owned multinational corporations.

    Meanwhile the Hell$ingers Choru$ of ”buy your way to paradise” is approaching self-destruct mode as various cult heavies squabble over the spoils created by the removal of Brian Hou$ton & $pou$e.

    The rationale behind purchasing outdated US tanks is that since Iraq, warfare has become missile based which renders tanks obsolete and perfect opportunities to pass off at enormous expense to a vassal state too scared to build their own public transport vehicles, let alone military weapons. So what was that about the JSX fighter bomber???

  5. pierre wilkinson

    “there is no problem that this PM faces that he cannot turn into a catastrophe”
    talk about hypocrisy
    and have you heard Frank Bainimarama’s assessment of the PM? Interesting observation.

    Fiji PM accuses Scott Morrison of ‘insulting’ and alienating …
    https://www.theguardian.com › world › aug › fiji-pm-fr…

  6. ROY EDWARDS

    AMAZING…..the lauded National Foundation for Australia-China Relations web page, simply has 2 names, one phone number and one fax number for the two DFAT people involved. The page asks for feedback (to WHAT? one wonders!) and so I duly sent feedback away; and away; and away.The page simply wiped out whatever ‘feedback’ you left and resent the empty page once more. THREE YEARS to produce a 1/2 page (at best) web page. At what cost? Another Liberal triumph.

  7. Andrew J. Smith

    One suspects that Morrison, media and LNP pivoted way from this more sensible long term diplomatic approach through influence of Trump administration via Pompeo, think tanks including ASPI and NewsCorp.

    Outcomes? Lost Oz Chinese trade in agriculture and mining (slack taken up by allies including US), loss of trust amongst Pacific and Asian nations, wedging Labor, increase in Sinophobia, but possibly an increase in ageing LNP votes to keep in power and the US radical right libertarian project in tact?

  8. Kaye Lee

    It really should be stressed that this speech was given in June 2019. We were positioning ourselves as the intermediary between the US and China.

    Then, in April 2020, Marise Payne decided it would be a good idea to use an appearance on Insiders to unilaterally call for an investigation into what caused the Coronavirus outbreak in China. Morrison then went further, suggesting that the World Health Organization (WHO) needed tough new “weapons inspector” powers to investigate what caused the outbreak. Why do this in the media rather than through diplomatic channels and global organisations? Why did we stick our heads up to fire the bullet?

    China, unsurprisingly, saw this as Australia pandering to Trump and reacted accordingly. Way to go, Marise. Another shirtfront gone wrong.

  9. wam

    Are we still waiting for F-35, Albo?

    ps
    NEC the cashless debit card sacks public servants and transfers their pay to private enterprise. Any ‘service’ disappears.

  10. New England Cocky

    @ wam: Does the F-35 fly? Little johnnie Howard’s contribution to the wealth of American shareholders in the US NE military-industrial complex.

    The CDC enriches former Nazional$ politicians and other Nazional$ supporters at the expense of of the Australian voters. The Nazional$ are a political party that has trouble mustering over 20 members in many country branches. And they control COALition misgovernment ex gratia payments while spending unlimited funds on white elephant projects to benefit their foreign owned multinational corporate mates without any sign of a business case.

  11. Terence Mills

    Don’t you think the Solomon’s Island government have played their international diplomacy fairly well ?

    From being an internationally neglected group of Pacific islands – we don’t even rate them for sending hapless asylum seekers for detention – struggling against climate change and a failing economy, all of a sudden you have China offering them deals, the USA promising to open an embassy and Australia sending over Zed Seselja.

    Admittedly Australia’s response as Penny Wong Put it, sending over a junior woodchuck, is a bit embarrassing but at least the Solomons are on the radar and like the Mouse that Roared they will start receiving international aid and recognition without actually having to declare war on anybody.

    Well done prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.

    PS : The Junior Woodchucks are the Scouting organization to which Huey, Dewey, and Louie belong……………and Zed.

  12. Bert

    “PS : The Junior Woodchucks are the Scouting organization to which Huey, Dewey, and Louie belong……………and Zed.”

    They wouldn’t have Zed.

  13. Kaye Lee

    Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!
    —King Lear, 2.2.65

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