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Sunny Days Ahead in China Beyond the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the PRC?

By Denis Bright

Most of China basks in perfectly warm weather for the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the PRC. It would be remiss of me not to make a comment on this occasion. I made a short visit to Guangzhou late 1974 which extended into the New Year. The Australian embassy in Beijing was already operating.

Our Gough Whitlam became the first Australian Prime Minister to implement a policy initiative to relocate the Australian embassy from Taipei to Beijing. This commitment was made from Opposition in 1971 despite tuts of dismay from the federal LNP which had been kept out of the loop of developments in Beijing and Washington.

President Nixon with the support of his secretary of state Henry Kissinger were following a similar path but it took several years to fulfil the commitment.

Although China remains Australia’s largest and most profitable trading partner due largely to exports of resources and foodstuffs plus net revenue from tourism and educational ties, investment ties have cooled during a new era of megaphone diplomacy as reported by the ABC’s Eliza Laschon:

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles says Australia’s relationship with China is “terrible”, accusing Prime Minister Scott Morrison of using “megaphone diplomacy” against the nation’s largest trading partner.

Mr Marles, Labor’s defence spokesman, has just returned from a three-day study tour of Beijing.

“The state of the relationship as it exists between Australia and China right now is terrible,” Mr Marles told ABC’s Insiders.

“I think there is a sense in which we are falling down their ladder of relevance.

“China is not seeing us in the serious way in which it has seen us in the past.”

Mr Marles took aim at Mr Morrison, who last week during a visit to the United States called for the superpower to no longer be considered a developing country and to face tougher trade obligations.

Relations between China and Australia remain strong at a grassroots level through the contribution of the local Chinese communities and especially its business and restaurant networks.

The swimming team from Central China has trained at the QUT Pool in Brisbane to escape from the Chinese winter.

Way back in 1974, I was treated to an impromptu visit to the Orchard Garden Swimming Pool in Guangzhou. This site with its twin Olympic pools has long been eclipsed as a local reference point by dozens of pools, water parks and artificial beaches across Guangzhou. The old pools continue to operate and can been seen on Google Earth.

Not so exponential are the trends in net Chinese investment in Australia in the post-property boom era and through federal government security reviews of some components of this investment:

Pragmatic sections of the federal LNP want our trading and investment status with China restored and arbitrary security controls reviewed (KPMG April 2019):

At a time of financial volatility on global markets, any persistence of trade and investment wars is clearly in nobody’s interests.

I do expect that Whitlameque values will be restored in commercial and strategic ties with China. Time is always on China’s side as it makes the full transition, sooner or later, to a global superpower and financial hub with many fringe benefits for Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific Basin.

Our mainstream media reports such events from a pro-American strategic perspective with a focus on perceived threats to Freedom of Navigation.

From a Chinese perspective however, the maritime boundaries of Taiwan are even more provocative and extend to within sight of the Chinese mainland in the Kinmen and Matsu Islands (ZeroHedge Online 7 July 2019).

While the centre-right Democratic Party in Taiwan has a popular mandate, there is always the threat of a declaration of independence from the PRC to stoke up further tensions even though the barriers between Taiwan and China have been lessened by tourism, family reunions and educational ties for student from Taiwan.

US citizens might be equally concerned if military installations from a potentially hostile province like Taiwan were in eyesight of major Atlantic coastline cities. The citizens of Xiamen and Mawei in China live in the shadows of such installations which are being refurbished by the Trump Administration in the name of Freedom of Navigation.

The Guardian Online (21 August 2019) has reported on the latest arms deal between the Trump Administration and Taiwan:

The Trump administration has approved the sale of 66 F-16 fighters to Taiwan in a move expected to anger Beijing. Taiwan will get the latest version of the Lockheed Martin-built fighter, the F-16C/D Block 70, in the $8bn deal, the state department said.

Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, said in a statement that president Donald Trump had green-lighted the proposed sale after Congress was notified last week.

The F-16s “are deeply consistent with the arrangements, the historical relationship between the United States and China”, Pompeo said.

“Our actions are consistent with past US policy. We are simply following through on the commitments we’ve made to all of the parties.”

Taiwan’s plan to upgrade its air defences comes amid increasing Chinese military incursions into its air space.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a part of China awaiting reunification, but the island is self-ruled and is a close ally of the United States.

In a statement, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees US foreign military sales, said Taiwan’s purchase of the F-16s “will not alter the basic military balance in the region”.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the recipient’s capability to provide for the defense of its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the United States.”

As Taiwanese national elections approach on 11 January 2020, it is the centre-right Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Wen who is well ahead in recent polling of the Centre leaning Kuomintang Party (KMT) with its commitment to The Three Noes of no unification, no independence and no use of force.

Likewise, in Australia, Newspoll has just revealed the extent of popular support for the US Alliance in a currently politically charged atmosphere (The Australian Online 30 September 2019):

The vast US Embassy in Beijing and its consulates across China need to get on the peace train to promote new mutually beneficial Belt and Road Initiatives (BRIs) in the spirit of the Whitlamesque era.

Press Statement

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

September 27, 2019

On behalf of the people of the United States, I offer congratulations to the people of China as you celebrate your National Day on October 1.

The United States wishes the people of China happiness, health, peace and prosperity in the year to come.

Will this terse greeting be enough to turn the tide?

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.



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  1. Phil Pryor

    Thanks for a large, comprehensive, useful, varied article on this relevant subject. Australia under conservative post imperialist outlooks and so called policy is near pathetic, very unsubtle, misapplied. Morrison couldn’t sell tourism once, an easy task for a simple operative. He is lost outside of the kiddy cot of Murdoch and corporation control. China will remain a vital part of our perspective, if we have one.

  2. Marcel

    How can Chinese investment in health care be a security problem to assist local people of Chinese background and other Australians? Chinese investment in this sector is one of the growth areas.

  3. Stella

    Denis, Thanks for a great article about Australian-Chinese relations. Such an important trading partner for Australia.

  4. Leila

    Interesting article, the world needs to remain peaceful to enhance trade & thus prosperity for all
    Australia needs to keep both China & the US on side

  5. Leila

    Australia needs to maintain a good relationship with both China & the US in order to increase trade between us & them
    This also will enhance our prosperity
    The world does not need these super powers fighting & us caught in the middle

  6. whatever

    We are getting ‘Red China!’ hysteria on the nightly news, now. This is just a copy of Trump’s ‘Chay-na!’ ravings.
    Most of the poorly educated, middle-aged suckers who voted for Scotty and Trump have no idea about geography or international relations but you can always get their attention by talking about the Red Menace.
    Pretty soon they will play a Chinese gong sound when the news about the evil Middle Kingdom starts, just like in “Get Smart” when The Claw appeared.

  7. Paul

    Great article Denis! Thanks for the great insights and history to reflect on.

    China and the USA should have a complimentary future without all this sabre-rattling from the Trump Administration. Supplying more war planes and missiles to Taiwan is highly provocative as Denis writes in his article.

  8. One China

    The Trump Presidency is going back on Nixon’s One China Policy by re-arming Taiwan

  9. James Robo

    China’s high saving levels and investments are a great resource for our Region: Thanks for reminding everyone about this noble 70th Anniversary Denis

  10. Tessa_M

    Africans will always remember China for its great investment programmes in infrastructure and health in particular: Such assets were never provided by the European colonialists who wanted to control Africa’s mineral wealth. There is no substitute from the West for this Chinese generosity as China itself is a developing country which has moved hundreds of millions out of poverty in a short time.

  11. Chris

    Interesting article, let’s hope China keeps the peace in HK.

  12. Lara G.

    The Philippines is drifting to the Left in politics with improved relations with both China and Russia

  13. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Good to have a comment from overseas in the Philippines, Lara.

    When I visited the Philippines on an Australian Teachers’ Federation Study tour, Clarke Air Base was still an active US Air Base. It seemed to attract some of the lowest forms of US culture in the good time bars and entertainment districts.

    Alas, there was little investment in infrastructure and health services to benefit the people of Tarlac Province who paid for medications from the USA at market rates.

    Times have changed. A $15 billion rail project to connect Manila with the commercial airport at Clark is now under construction by the Philippine National Railways with overseas financial assistance to offer 36 stations along the 150 kms of new standardized track. The project failed as a market initiative in the 1990s but this time it should be fully operational in four years to offer an alternative to the traffic grid-lock on the motorways.

    Cheers to the Asian Development Bank for their financial support for this project: https://www.adb.org/news/adb-approves-275-billion-support-malolos-clark-railway-project. Such projects did not eventuate during fifty years of US Administration of the Philippines.

    Middle-sized economies like the Philippines and Australia need such support rather than more investment in overseas commercial networks offering pizza and fast food delivery through the use of desperate contractors who list life and limb as they ply through heavy traffic without adequate insurance cover. Such ventures are very hazardous of wet nights when roads a slippery and are a disgrace to contemporary labour standards.

  14. Lara G.

    Aussies should follow the Philippines and welcome more investment from the Asian Development Bank over Wall Street Investment

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