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The Mouse Roars: Australia, China and a Coronavirus Independent Inquiry

Australia matters little when it comes to international muscle. It is the retainer and pretender of power, a middle-distance runner who runs out of puff on the final stride. The big boys and girls look, agog. Why did you even bother? In the recent international relations shouting match (for Australia, shouting; for China, sotto voce with a touch of menace), you are left with a remarkable impression that Australia has the sort of heft to terrify opponents. It never has and never will, except when it comes to victimising refugees and bullying neighbouring states in the Pacific, whom they supposedly claim to have respect for. On all other matters, its best to consult the US State Department dispatches.

With a lack of prudence, the mouse has decided to roar. The theme tune: Chinese responsibility for COVID-19. The object: to take the lead in holding Beijing to account for the losses arising from it. It began with a certain rush of blood arising from a phone call between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US President Donald Trump on April 22. Morrison emerged from the call brashly confident: an independent inquiry (however oxymoronic) into the origins of the pandemic, should be formed.

A letter to various world leaders was drafted and sent, and received a generally cool response. To spend time pursuing such an effort was an unnecessary distraction, taking away from the main task at hand: to battle the immediate effects of COVID-19.

Looking at this behaviour with puzzlement, veteran journalist Tony Walker suggested that Morrison, having created himself a sizeable hole, was intent on digging further. “Prime Minister Scott Morrison has excavated a diplomatic cavity for himself and his country as a consequence of an unwise intervention in the debate about China’s responsibility for a coronavirus pandemic.”

Beijing is certainly showing signs of assisting an enlargement of that cavity. China’s ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye has spoken of tourists “having second thoughts” and parents of students reconsidering sending their children to a place “they find is not so friendly, even hostile.” There have been threats of slapping punitive tariffs on Australian barley (upwards of 80 per cent) and halting beef exports. Red meat from four Australian suppliers, who control more than a third of the country’s exports to the PRC, have been banned.

The official justification – that Australian exporters had breached quarantine and other health regulations – conceals the retributive motivation of the decision. Publicly, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is playing dumb. “Chinese officials both publicly and privately are adamant that these are unconnected and so it is the best interests of our farmers and exporters for us to treat these issues all on their merits, and certainly from our policy perspective these are completely unconnected issues.”

The response to China’s moves has been marked by smugness, and also omits the fact that Australia has been more than happy to impose duties on Chinese steel, aluminium and chemicals for the best part of a decade. Australian journalists and commentators are confident that Chinese threats to abandon Australian iron ore in favour of Brazilian options are being dismissed. According to the Australian Financial Review, “there simply isn’t enough of the core commodity used to make steel to meet China’s demand.” UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock is quoted to add credibility to the claim. “With the market tight, it is difficult for China to source iron ore from alternative sources.” The general sentiment at the AFR, then, is that China is simply too prudent to risk self-harming in the matter, given that 62 percent of its iron ore hails from Australian sources. The same cannot be said about coal.

The strategic fraternity also fail to sight Morrison’s large and self-destructively aimed shovel, with its not so well concealed US inspiration. Peter Jennings, Executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, actually seems to think that the words “transparent” and “independent” would go hand-in-hand with “inquiry” into COVID-19. For any such pursuit to be worthwhile, it would have to be divorced from countries who had suffered harm, a decidedly difficult prospect given the virus’ devastating spread.

Jennings prefers to lob a grenade of accusation or two against China, making the trite point that they have “something to hide.” He omits the patent truth that China’s great accuser, the United States, has done its fair share of hiding and concealing matters relating to the coronavirus since it started to make its deadly impression.

It would be hard to forget the various twists and turns of Trump, who has done his heroic best at diminishing the effect of the virus while inflating the efforts of combating COVID-19. On February 28, he claimed that the virus “like a miracle,” would “disappear.” On March 4, he trotted out that cruel thesis that influenza kills with greater effect, suggesting that the novel coronavirus was pygmy-like by comparison, a view rejected by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci before Congress a week later. He has never tired of suggesting that the United States was, and remains, the “most prepared country in the world.” Then there is that most superb of howlers, the suggestion that coronavirus be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body. (Another lesser known bright idea he entertained: radiating patients with UV light.)

Australia finds itself, not so much an unwitting as a witless attachment in the pandemic politics of COVID-19, but best not let the ASPI tell you about it. Given that prudence and discretion have been banished from Canberra’s corridors, the issue of swatting Australia for its fanciful presumptions is very much on the cards. Those in the business of dealing with China in a direct, and it should be said more mature way, may well dread this Morrison moment.

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44 comments

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  1. Win Jeavons

    My observation has been that the conservative idea of independent means biased to give their prejudged outcome, invariably.

  2. Phil Pryor

    No-one has ever, ever, sued a cyclone, flood, fire, bug, flu, cold, virus, frost, earthquake. If one can focus on a guilty person (s) then legal positions may be taken, but, does the USA accept that anyone can sue or charge their often murdering out of control military? It does seem that one might co-operate in tracing this back, detecting areas of source and concern and finding out if possible how to avoid disasters. The WHO and Chinese officials should approach this possiblity as openly as possible, but.., precedents? Will USA authorities admit to any liability in USA militaty camps in Kansas, c. 1918. the likely real area of causation of the wrongly named Spanish Flu. And, did aids poxes and pestilences come from San Francisco, or any place where proof can be found? Simple minds could say that the USA is the likely source, as so many have caught it and many have died in extraordinary numbers and proportions. This is an awful way to lead the world. As people everywhere intrude further on nature, plagues will occur, viruses will find new hosts, we are pushing. In Australia, the pushy moronic righteousness of superstionist idiots is sickening, primitive…

  3. mark delmege

    We know the USofA has been researching with SARS CoV virus in the recently closed down Fort Detrick bio lab and we know the USofA has even been funding Corona and bat virus research in Wuhan itself – these facts are easy discernible from US agency websites and the man that sits next to the President has his name all over the documents. Just maybe like the HIViruses, the SARS Cov 2 has been around for a lot longer than we might think. HIV for example has been traced back to early last century. But hey don’t let the facts get in the way of an accusation in search of confirmation bias.
    Apart from all that we also know how allegations were weaponised by the so called independent agency the OPCW and how ex officials have called into question reports that claimed the Syrian Govt was responsible for chemical weapon use in that country … just as the IAEA too has served as a conduit for political ends.
    As for wet markets and the selling of wild animals for food we have them all over Australia.

  4. Ray Tinkler

    When the nose is plain on the face, and the Sun rising, then setting, followed by the Moon doing likewise and repeating for as long as mankind has ever observed, the fact that this brain snap by Morrison, (as opposed to “snap back”) including a sudden enthusiasm to start the push to re-open the “economy” by prematurely bringing about a return to “normality” as quickly as possible was prefaced by a nice chat with POTUS, isn’t it bleeding obvious that the law of “cause and effect” is the sensible conclusion to why this is happening now ?

    Have we forgotten the belly scraping, arse kissing, fellatiolistic promises made by one M. Turnbull, in that infamous conversation to placate that said POTUS over the dirty, backstabbing deal done with Obama over refugees in the time period known as “the transition period” twixt election and inauguration. Do we kid ourselves that he’s forgiven and forgotten, really. Then we must be the dimmest and dumbest of dumb-dumbs in history. For whatever or whoever’s sake you believe in, WAKE UP as to who is calling the shots. And the one obeying is the most obedient servant this planet has ever seen.

  5. Andrew Smith

    Agree, and putting aside PRC’s responsibilities, behaviour etc., we observe how quickly LNP (and presumably some Labor) MPs, think tanks and media, especially NewsCorp, are happy to noisily promote White House (crazy radical right libertarian) policy, before Australia’s own self interest (versus quiet behind the scenes diplomacy).

    We still suffer from culturally specific elites in politics and media with inferiority complexes masked by arrogance, i.e. ‘skips’, different from the diversity in electorates and even more the population, and cannot see past the US and UK. In fact, too many seem intent in making and/or furthering their careers in the ‘Anglosphere’ representing, at best cultural nostalgia, or the past…. while ignoring the sensible parts of the English speaking world namely NZ, Canada and Ireland (how rare is it to see political news media content from these latter nations?), both our own cultural diversity and backyard in the Asian region.

    If Australia, especially LNP, wishes to continue recruiting from an ever declining cultural minority and retaining power, there will be a concurrent decline in quality…… and increasing authoritarianism; till now that is what our ageing electorates desire.

  6. Henry

    Over at the gutter tripe dispenser otherwise known as The Age/9 Hatchet Hack Hartcher has been spewing out a whole series of u$a ‘State Department’ memos like a good liddle pressitute. The censor ‘Mods’ are particularly fond of permitting vile racist rant after rant in praise of ol’ hatchet presstitute Hartcher’s racist codswallop.

    And so it goes in the corporate fascist poisoned and dying ‘lucky’ clean coal quarry. Slavering imbecility rules.

  7. paul walter

    Yes, it is about staying in lockstep with Trump /Murdoch in a US election year.

    Also. Morrison playing to the base- dog whistling, look over there away from where you are looking now.

    But not so good if it costs us important markets in China at the onset of a recession, just to talk up the orange rugged haired phoney and his dumb as a sack of hammers lackeys in Canberra.

    Not thst his people would ever harms done, quite the opposite, they like this sort of thing.

    Good for “labour market discipline” (whips out).

  8. Michael Taylor

    Speaking of roaring, I hear that China wants the US to pay back all its loans (remembering that during the height of the Iraq War than the US was borrowing $1B a day from China).

    This is a real worry as I’m fearful at what Trump might do to avoid paying it.

  9. wam

    Haha at my age your ‘witless’ strikes me on the funny bone causing laughter through the pain.
    The China free trade was so flawed and hastily signed by China before giving robb a very suss $750k pa stipend beginning the day he retired.(funny how but greed is bipartisan how about edin Monaro boy he started his new job before he stops getting paid?)
    Let’s hope the opposition leader Rex Patrick can read your post and do something.
    ps
    Win jeavons the politician’s idea of independent is not having a politician on the panel but set the secret terms of reference and hand pick the members.
    pps
    This is why only blind sided idealists think Australian politicians will allow a republic to be independent.

  10. Dwayne Dibley

    Ray Tinkler

    Can you possibly imagine the kind of person that the USA was hoping to off-load onto Australia in exchange for innocent refugees? I’d rather not think about it…

  11. Ray Tinkler

    Dwayne Dibley.

    As I recall there were at least two that we did take and their whereabouts here is a closely guarded secret. No reason to think there are not more that we don’t know about. Turnbull made it quite clear in that call that there were no bounds to what Australia would do in recompense.

  12. Andrew Smith

    Related have been mutterings that the Australian economy maybe starting to decouple from the US, e.g. Asia has become far more relevant for Australia’s prosperity.

    Recently we had Forrest upsetting Minister Hunt by inviting PRC Consul for Victoria (?) to a press conference; are the mining magnates ‘decoupling’ from US led LNP policy?

    Just recently the first yuan based iron ore deals have been made with PRC companies by FMG, BHP and RIO, although modest, does this indicate a move away from presumably USD denominated trade?

    https://www.reuters.com/article/china-baowu-bhp/bhp-completes-first-yuan-based-iron-ore-sale-to-chinas-baosteel-idUSL4N2CU156

    Major threat to US finance and economy would be PRC etc. declining to use USDs, and worse, calling in their loans i.e. US Treasuries?

  13. paul walter

    Yeah, top comments from Andrew Smith.

    Never mind a bunch of inward looking old reactionary control freaks.

  14. ajogrady

    A simple and alarming fact. While China has been removing hundreds of millions of people out of poverty the USA, Britain and Australia have managed to send tens of million of people into poverty.
    Another fact is that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. And the world is ment to believe the USA? WHY?

  15. Walter

    The US could have initiated an inquiry into the pandemic and China’s role, but it would take 2 seconds of research to stumble on this:
    https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/harvard-university-professor-and-two-chinese-nationals-charged-three-separate-china-related
    So over to Deputy Dawg, Scotty from Marketing. This is what the public needs, another excuse for Murdoch and his subservient lappies to beat the drums of distraction. Beautiful, the mind-numbing sound of public noise, in the words of Shakespeare ‘a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing’. Any inquiry will look into the outbreak up until the point they realize the public is starting to understand what was in the vaccines the Chinese government mandated for its people to take by December 2019.

  16. Jack Cade

    Walter

    In my utterly biased anti-American opinion, the last thing the US wants is an investigation. Detrick is a CIA facility. One of AIMN’s contributors posited that the CIA did some good things… I can’t think of any.
    The US has a long history of chemical warfare. The US team for the World Military Games trained in a camp adjacent to Detrick. A US cyclist has been cited as the first victim, in clips now removed and banned from Youtube. The US (female) cyclist was not an ordinary soldier but was connected with US intelligence, a world class oxymoron.
    The US team came 54th, so not too many world Military class athletes among the 300 representatives.
    Some people don’t believe in coincidences: Maybe the virus came from Detrick, maybe not. I’ll draw my own conclusions, fuelled by my prejudices.

  17. Walter

    Jack, nothing to disagree with there. No way possible the US or China or any govt wants to know about how or where the virus originated. There would be a riot if the truth came out, and btw, I don’t know the origins. As I see it, there is going to be a riot anyway once the US govt starts seizing children in lieu of their gun-toting parents not bending like slaves and taking mandated vaccine shots later this year. Parents in California have already been issued such govt advice, it applies to anyone on govt benefits. Watch Murdoch and his lappies spin it out. The average person is content to parrot the phrase ‘conspiracy theories’ rather than research and as a result we will all pay a high price for that kind of laziness.

  18. DrakeN

    Never in the annals of human history has so little been known by so many for the benefit of so few – to paraphrase a famous WW2 speech.
    Mushrooms we are – always have been and no doubt always will be.

  19. andy56

    Jack Cade, its an interesting perspective and seems highly likely. It only has value as long as trump thinks it has value. Notice its now “obamagate” being peddled. Fuck enough look over theres to fool 36% of the population. Meanwhile, back at the farm…..

    WTF did Scott of fuckall decide to stir up china? Its obvious they will teach us a lesson in megaphone diplomacy. I would like to know where the alternative markets are, seeing as half the world is on a virus shut down, has the mouth done as Turn-to-shit says he does in his book, shouts out before anything is discussed thus jepodising any options. True shitfuckery thats now going to have real consequenses for farmers. This will have legs, Scott is like a man from mars and the electorate like a woman from venus , will take all brownie points away. Yes i have sympathy for farmers but they voted for these shits, let them feel some pain.

  20. andy56

    Walter, i dont get drawn to conspiracy theories. The virus came from whence it came. There was a moment of good will internationally and then the clown in america started to shit himeslf over the self induced disaster. When he started to blame china, the last, i mean very last thing scott should have done was what he did. Did he even consult any diplomats with china experience. If not, what the fuck do we have diplomats for? Now, china will crack a whip. They where looking for an excuse and scott like the fwit he is decided to dog whistle. Prima facia case that Turn to shit was telling the truth on this issue. Prima facia case that scott will return to form when given a free reign. This leopard will not change his spots. This could be 3 out of 4 disasters he got wrong so far.

  21. Zathras

    Deflect and distract are the tools Trump always uses to cover up his own inadequacies and Morrison is merely acting like Howard in adopting a subservient “Deputy Sheriff” role, trying to look like he’s doing something positive – only this time it’s not the ficticious WMDs.

    Blamestorming always happens when politicians find themselves backed into a corner.

    About two thirds of human epidemic virii originate in the animal kingdom, whether it’s SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu or a multitude of variants. The only variable is that this pandemic is long overdue and everyone was ill-prepared.

    Maybe the Chinese delayed in announcing COVID-19 because they were hoping to contain it but muddying the waters by claiming it was man-made or some sort of conspiracy aimed at destroying Western civilisation is simply crazy. China need the West as much as the West needs China and maybe more if it wants to keep growing its economy.

    In any case the use of disease warfare was studied for decades – particularly by the USA who siezed the research undertaken by the Japanese on Chinese prisoners during WW2 but would be too indiscriminate and impossible to contain.

    Soon we will be diplomatically past the point of no return and in a Trade War which will benefit no-one and at the worst possible time.

  22. Jack Cade

    I don’t believe it was developed in a lab, but if it was, I’dbelieve that lab would have been Detrick.
    I don’t believe it was deliberately released, but if it was, I’d assume it was by the Americans under cover of the World Military Games.
    Fort Detrick was censured and told to ‘cease and desist’ by THE GOVERNMENT OF THE USA in August 2029.
    Fort Detrick was the source of the anthrax powder that was posted to a number of US politicians who had opposed a legislative issue that the people running Fort Detrick wanted passed.
    Fort Detrick had failed to acknowledge storing half a dozen virus strains in an inventory demanded by the US government.
    As the mathematicians say ‘quod est fucking demonstrandum’.
    But that’s just my opinion.
    On another issue entirely, and relevant to my love of picturesque language snd innovative phraseology, my next door neighbour said to his son (who’d been out on the slops the night before) ‘You’ve got Christian Brothers eyes, mate!’
    I said ‘What are Christian Brothers eyes?’
    He said ‘Look at him. His pupils are fucked.’

  23. johno

    andy56, agree with your comments re morrimouth and look over there.

  24. Jack Cade

    Andy56

    Yes. Everybody wants to know where the virus came from, and Scummo was within his rights to suggest it needed investigation. But acting and looking like Trump’s marionette was the wrong way to go about it and has the potential to cause Australia enormous financial damage, as well as worsening this country’s already international disrepute as a US lapdog without a mind of its own.

  25. Ken Fabian

    If there were not concurrent and overlapping efforts to blame China, with accusations of incompetent or deliberate release of Covid from their labs – ie the global pandemic is China’s fault – then calls for investigation of the origins and spread intended to improve future responses would probably not be resisted. The Trump approach – much admired by far too many Australian MP’s – of defunding international health health organisations and inciting international conflict in response are first and foremost exercises in blameshifting and distraction. Unfortunately these fallbacks of the incompetent are surprisingly effective partisan political gameplays, especially when large parts of MSM fall in with it.

  26. andy56

    And today, Probyn was full of himself saying Morrison had redeemed himself after the fires. Talk about not seeing shit from the trees. This trade issue we have with china is about to blow up. And who do you think caused it? I am having a bob each way, if it doesnt happen i hope they learn a lesson and if it does happen, we will be in a shit for sure. NOT FUCKING WAY can we find alternative markets if 1/3 of our exports go to china now.
    We will have four obvious options, shrink our economy and suffer dire unemployment consequences, open the flood gates to immigration , shrink defence spending to support the economy at large or shrink government . Or we can have a more nuanced approach and go UBI, cut defence spending by killing the subs, restructure, ie UBI can eliminate super, centerlink and all the red tape and hangers on. Streamline government in health and education. Instead of the feds leading the charge by being involved, they can lead the charge by streamling things like coag and letting the states co operate. We can fix laws too, why the quaint jusristriction rubbish between state police forces. You commit a murder, everyone is looking for you, you get arrested and sent back to who wants to prosecute, why are we waiting for a piece of paper to say you can cross borders? its 2020, its FUCKING INSANE.

  27. andy56

    Can start with centerlink. Man how fucking stupid is the crap you have to go through. I got jobkeeper with little paperwork. Wife’s jobseeker cost 3 tree and three days of paperwork. Even then they dont read what is in front of them. They wanted last years tax return for a company i closed off in 2016.
    Another mate on centerlink payments got a call up for an interview last week. He has a job in waiting, waiting for the all clear from virus lockdown, and they want him to go for a job interview. You know why? Because its worth $250 to the company everytime they organise to interview the recipient. In any case, 2million people looking for work when the job pool has shrunk 50% is looking for a rort or two.

  28. eyep

    Found this comment in the South China Morning Post. The other comments are worth a look too. Morrison has screwed up big time pandering to the LNP rednecks.

    https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/3084707/australia-has-dug-itself-hole-its-relationship-china-its-time#comments
    DonKent
    I forget to add the most recent Australian comments to my gaslight analogy below, so here it is along with the original comment:

    No no, I wasn’t abusing you, you big goofy. I was just playing around, you know I love you, stop being so precious and overreacting. Barley and beef at the same time?? You bully, and you have the gall to accuse me of abusing you? Can’t you see you are the bully here and are overreacting, just simply being paranoid about everything? Look I said I was sorry, you don’t know what pressures I am under, why can’t you be more sympathetic and nicer to me? Why can’t you just let it go? Why do you have to be such a bully, such an abuser, being so evil and crazy all the time?
    Why do you always have to keep bringing up the past? We’re talking about this time, this once, I made a mistake ok? I admit it. Why can’t you just be rational and stop bringing up everything I’ve done over the past three years? Look, when you’ve calmed down and stopped being so hysterical I’m here to talk. This silent treatment is childish, baby. You have to learn to say what you want, you can’t just expect me to know you’re unhappy when you say, fine, you won’t come around any more. You know you’re blowing things out of proportion, right?
    14 minutes ago

  29. A Commentator

    What a thoroughly thoughtful and consistent piece!
    What’s the point of puny us ever expressing a view about international relations?
    Of course we should leave it up to “the big boys and girls” as the author recommends. Because they have looked after everything without fault for decades!
    And no doubt the author would agree that it’s pointless us participating in any emissions reduction effort, because puny us just makes no difference, no one takes any notice and it might be harmful to us!
    Yes, it all makes so much sense to keep out of all the international stuff!

  30. Jack Cade

    A Commentator

    The article does not suggest that we ‘keep
    out of all the international stuff’. It merely reflects that our impartiality has been so corrupted by our unquestioning following of every US idea that we have no or minimal influence.
    On another matter, not entirely unconnected, George Galloway said, today, that the US hit man Pompeo dropped into Israel the other day to complain about Israel’s perceived softening in its attitude toward China. Two days later the newly-appointed Chinese ambassador to Israel was found dead.
    Coincidences are a pain in the arse, aren’t they?

  31. A Commentator

    I see, I must be looking at a different article, because the one I read says-
    * Australia matters little when it comes to international muscle.
    * a middle-distance runner who runs out of puff on the final stride. The big boys and girls look, agog. Why did you even bother?
    * you are left with a remarkable impression that Australia has the sort of heft to terrify opponents. It never has and never will…
    * With a lack of prudence, the mouse has decided to roar.

    So, I agree, it is entirely pointless and most embarrassing when we talk about international relations.

    We should know our place, shut up, and not even bother. And that’s particularly the case if an issue happens to be contrary to our immediate economic interests…such as trade with China and emissions reduction.

    I’m sure all sensible people, such as the author, would agree!

  32. Jack Cade

    A Commentator

    We read the same article but maybe we interpreted it differently.
    Small countries with self-respect get respected, too. But we are not seen as our own country, in the way the Scandinavians are, perhaps. I think even New Zealand has credibility because it speaks with its own voice. Every comment our government makes on international issues seems to be run past the US ambassador first.

  33. A Commentator

    Yeah, of course, but which of the quotes have I misinterpreted? Probably the “never has, never will”?

    I think it’s best that we just accept our mediocre, backwater, puny place in the world as suggested.

    And by the way, let’s make sure we never express a view about international law and the South China Sea

  34. Jack Cade

    A Commentator

    We can express our views on anything – so long as they are OUR views. That’s all.
    What would WE say if China sent a fleet to the Caribbean? Would you see it as provocative? If they set up bases in Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela? Would Uncle Sam shrug and say okay? And would Greg Sheridan and his boss say ‘Not a problem?’

  35. A Commentator

    By the way… you referred to Scandinavian independence and foreign policy towards China…

    Remember how the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Chinese dissident, represented by an empty chair?

    China didn’t take kindly to that and now don’t buy salmon from Norway, despite China being the world’s biggest consumer of seafood and Norway being the biggest producer of salmon.

    They, like us, should learn that we must just accept their bullying, and know our subservient place in the world.

    Just as the author suggests.

  36. Jack Cade

    And did they? Accept their bullying?
    Whatever their attitude is to China, it is their own and not merely that of another bully.

  37. A Commentator

    I see. How many countries have now endorsed the EU resolution on an inquiry? They’re all brown nosing, no doubt.

    But according to the author, we should never bother.

    Australia “never has, never will” have influence in international relations, and we should just leave it to “the big boys and girls”

    Know your place and don’t try to rise above your station. Otherwise you’ll be known as a trouble maker. And that might mean there are economic consequences.

    Let’s apply the same principle to emissions reduction!

  38. Jack Cade

    I support the idea of an enquiry, and have said so. I don’t object to Australia advocating one. But the impression given is that Morrison didn’t think of it until he’d spoken to Trump.

  39. Andrew Smith

    The EU is using far more temperate, diplomatic and moderate language towards WHO on reviewing on Covid-19 while the US and Australia tends to be intemperate, undiplomatic and shouty through mainstream media while conflating with ‘China’ for partisan political purposes.

    Further, follows a pattern reinforced overnight by Trump’s demands and threats towards WHO, i.e. nativist need for wanting to crash supranational bodies and multilateral or trade blocs (including the EU) in favour of US exceptionalism and bilateral agreements (masking relative decline). Watch UK Trade Minister Truss try ‘lead’ trade negotiations (outside of the EU) with the US, just another negative symptom of Brexit crazy radical right libertarianism aka IPA (in UK their Koch counterpart is IEA)…..

  40. A Commentator

    “…the impression is that Morrison…”

    And the (more than an) impression given by the author is that Australia is a piddling little country that has no place being involved in international relations, or advocating anything that may be a little contentious.

    Particularly when our economic interests may be involved!

    (can we apply the same principle to emissions reduction?)

  41. Ray Tinkler

    “(can we apply the same principle to emissions reduction?)” On that score that is exactly the stance that Morrison takes, but then, it also aligns with the stance that POTUS takes as well, only his reasons differ, but the effect on the planet are the same.

    And “the impression is that Morrison”. If only it was an impression that could only have a single reference. But it isn’t, I wonder how many times the call that say’s “Hey, Titanium man, I wan’na make you a proposition you can’t refuse” comes in the middle of the night.

  42. andy56

    The problem is simple and its complex. Our prosperity was bought by our exports to china, no two ways about it. Its the failure of neoliberalism, its the failure of laissez faire economics. We always knew china would use its muscle when the time came, yet we gladly sold out. The irony is that we already sold out to american “security”. So we prostituted ourselves around the world and now wonder why we got the clapp.
    We got sold the rubbish about “yes we can sell to them and maintain our values”. Its so fucking wrong on so many levels. We maintained our values alright, we are no better, isnt it obvious. Conflating china’s aggression with american values. China is doing what a smart counrty does, looks after its people the smart way. Look over at america, and whats the culmination of dumb power, a military machine that runs the economy , even dumber per head voters, (36% think Trump is doing a good job) and billionaires who rule over a work force as a slave master did 100yrs ago.
    China had/has a plan on being the economic power it always thought it should be. It used strategies and economic incentives, it appealed to the greedy capital class in the west. It opened up the red carpet and labour was cheap. They targeted industries they wanted and saw as part of the future.
    We in the west were preoccupied with let the market rip theories and ideologies and no place for government .
    well the chickens have come home to roost and we got nobody to blame but our selves.

    its going to get a bit bumpy in the foreseeable future, we can learn or we can just go back to what we do best, prostitute ourselves around the world under the watchful eye of our pimp, america

  43. Andrew Smith

    A Commentator: Late news from The Guardian in article ‘Member states back WHO after renewed Donald Trump attack…….

    ….The medical journal the Lancet, which was incorrectly mentioned in Trump’s letter as having published a report on the virus in late 2019, issued a statement setting the record straight on Tuesday.

    “This statement is factually incorrect,” the Lancet said. “The Lancet published no report in December 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China … The allegations levelled against the WHO in President Trump’s letter are serious and damaging to efforts to strengthen international cooperation to control this pandemic. It is essential that any review of the global response is based on a factually accurate account of what took place in December and January.”

    EU diplomats, aware that the WHO has become a stage prop in Trump’s re-election campaign, have been focusing on trying to minimise the US-China clash at the assembly, and still hope the compromise resolution can minimise the damage, and possibly pave the way for Trump to delay a final break from the WHO.

    In Brussels, the EU threw its weight behind the WHO, urging all countries to support it in the wake of Trump’s continued attacks. “This is the time for solidarity,” said the European commission’s spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson. “It is not the time for finger-pointing or undermining multilateral cooperation.’

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/19/member-states-back-who-after-renewed-donald-trump-attack

    Modus operandi of nativist conservatives is to shoot messengers while playing hard and fast with facts….

  44. Jack Cade

    Andrew Smith

    The AFR and Crikey.com report that the USA specifically rejected calls for the ‘sharing of vaccine information for the benefit of poorer nations’ on the grounds that innovators may be dissuaded to continue research.
    In other words, the almighty dollar TRUMPS everything in a capitalist society. As reported recently, a spokesman for big Pharma said they never sought cures for anything because ‘cures interfere with our income stream.’
    The covid-19 pandemic has presumably stymied the Johnson governments intention to allow The US ‘Big pharma’ disease to lock itself into the NHS.

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