A patch up for Australia-China relations?

Aug 22, 2021

Last week we commented on the divorce between Australia and China as a family relation that has broken down, instigated by the US ‘Mother-in-Law’.  This week we will explore the broken relations and try to find means for a family reconciliation, if any possibility exists.  

The reader is reminded that many Australians (‘the children’ continuing the analogy), have been polarized and the Lowy Institute report and other surveys have shown that the majority of Australians have adverse sentiments against China, whether this perception is translated into against the Chinese Communist Party or President Xi, or Chinese Government or all of the above.

Although some Australian and Western pundits would declare that their sentiments against the CCP, Xi or Chinese government, do not mean they are anti-Chinese people since 1.4 million Chinese Australians live in Australia.  Despite this disclaimer, there has been a rise in xenophobia in Australia and this simplistic disclaimer cannot explain the rise in racism of all forms and in all fronts, public or private in Australia. In some extreme cases, reported to the Asian Australian Alliance, there were physical violence.

The rise of xenophobia has allowed national security laws passage through parliament that was precipitated to target and place fear into Chinese /Asian Australians and gives the public perception that there is a red underneath every Chinese in Australia.  Some has gone even further by declaring that the Chinese Australians are necessarily disloyal to Australia.  These perceptions give rise to tremendous pressure to Chinese Australians who have made Australia their home and have formally declared their loyalty to Australia whilst other communities are not required to do so!

To those who are ideologically partisan to the US foreign policy on China containment and the associated propaganda of human rights abuse, totalitarian government, etc. there would be difficult to convince them that an improvement in Australia-China relations would be beneficial to the economic health of Australia.  This group will simply reject the proposition as they have made a decision not to trade with China because of CCP.  And since they have invented whole China as the “enemy” all allegations of military threat, economic threats become a reality and they declared that that “we don’t trade our values for economic gain”; which is a high moral ground argument except that the foundation of those claims were false.

In the US, Biden would have the same problems if he would try to sway his fellow citizens to be soft with China.  The Americans are so well ‘educated’ on the bigoted claims that they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, hence, the Trade War and Cold War II between US-China will continue for some years, with Australia remaining in the US camp. There is a common denominator in the demonization of China. 

Another group of Australians coming from an academic background or ex-diplomats who are really China experts have a different view.  They believe that the rise of China is not stoppable with the current US allies because of the lack of solidarity among them.  A better policy would be inclusive and managed the rise of China as much as possible with getting into the hegemon struggle between US and China. That was the view of former Prime Ministers, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull who debated the issue conducted by La Trobe University earlier this month.

The ASEAN nations have also the inclusive view and learned to play their roles carefully with both sides. Australia should take a hard look at their policies and consider joining in their vision to have a peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific which will benefit all instead of drumming up war between US and China which will lead to disasters for not only the Asia Pacific region and Australia but the whole world.

Chinese Australians have similar wishes with ASEAN nations. CCP is as human as any Australian. We all make mistakes which with cooperation and friendship, we can help to mend the mistakes in both sides, leading to an improved Australia-China relations. Australia is good at being peace maker through UN and diplomatic strategy in the past.

That would be extremely beneficial to Australia both domestically and internationally as an influential Asia Pacific leader.  What the war mongers did not consider is that a breakout of hostility in the South China Sea would involve Australia going to war with China (although there are no perceived threats militarily or otherwise against Australia by China). This is the nightmare which Australians would not want.

Faith in the US among SE Asian nations can be restored if US changes her foreign policy on China and Australia will also comply.

There is a better alternative with all the gloom and doom if we take a chance to become non-partisan to China’s rise and continue to trade with her as what our former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser have paved the way for us before. There has never been a threat of our sovereignty and security now and in future from China if Australia plays a non-partisan peace maker’s role.

The marriage between Australia China can be back on the table. That will be a win-win not only for Australians, US and Allies but all other global citizens as well. Australia will be very well respect for doing such a great job. Chinese Australians are there to assist as match makers again. Blessing to all.

Principal authors, Tony Pun and Dr Ka Sing Chua. This commentary is supplied by the Chinese Community Council of Australia Incorporated: Founding President, Dr Anthony Pun OAM, President, Mr Kingsley Liu. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.

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