Albanese advised to come clean on AUKUS and China – Asian Media Report

May 11, 2024
President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Surnak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the AUKUS bilateral meeting San Diego, Calif, March 13, 2023. (DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

In Asian media this week: Government must persuade public on nuclear subs. Plus: Violence against women an Asian tragedy, too; Beijing, Manila clash over shoal agreement; West hastening loss of supremacy; Modi’s attacks show worry about poll; Hong Kong should promote its common law system.

Readers of Asian media stand a good chance of understanding more about AUKUS than those who rely on Australian news sources.

An article published in the Asian news site The Diplomat says the Albanese Government needs to make its case to the Australian public about why AUKUS matters, now and into the future: that AUKUS is aimed at dealing with the threat posed by China.

“The Australian Government has made a strategic choice to prepare for a potential conflict with China,” it says.

The article was written by Nishank Motwani, a senior defence and security analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

It says AUKUS can work as a deterrent in four ways.

First, it would let US nuclear submarines concentrate on the South China Sea while the RAN submarines could block key points further east, denying the People’s Liberation Army Navy freedom to manoeuvre.

Secondly, it would let more US and UK submarines operate continuously as they could use Australian ports for servicing without returning to their home ports.

Thirdly, US and UK submarines could operate more closely to the areas of strategic threat and arguably be more survivable, as Australia provides strategic depth.

Finally, AUKUS would lead to more significant investment in allied shipbuilding capacity.

The Albanese Government needs to engage in an honest dialogue with the Australian public, the piece says, laying out the arguments for AUKUS, while acknowledging the tradeoffs with such other priorities as healthcare, education and housing.

“To win public support the Government has to articulate what the threat to Australia is,” it says. “This must be done in way that transcends abstract arguments such as protecting sea lines of communications, which is critical but does nothing to identify the source of the threat: China.”

Disturbing wave of femicide shocks South Korea

Violence against women is an international tragedy. It is the focus of current articles about two Asian countries – South Korea and India.

The Korea Herald said a disturbing wave of murders of ex-girlfriends had sent shockwaves across the country and had thrust urgent questions into the spotlight: why are the killings occurring? And how can they be prevented?

“In South Korean society, femicide often unfolds within intimate relationships, leaving countless women in perpetual fear,” said a report in the paper.

It said that the National Police Agency reported 57,297 cases of dating violence in 2021 – triple the number in the previous year.

The Korean Women’s Hotline said 138 women were killed last year by men in intimate relationships and 311 women survived attempts on their lives.
“In Korea, a woman is killed or almost killed by a man in a close relationship with her every 19 hours,” the paper said.

It quoted the Hotline as saying: “Basically, they’re all tied to a simple reason: the woman didn’t do what the man wanted her to do.”

In India, sexual violence – up to the including rape – happened in high places and in the best of places, said an article in ucanews.com, the Catholic pan-Asian news site.

“Therefore, [they] do not ruffle feathers too much,” it said. “Political and caste leaders are assured of mass amnesia the day after they make the front pages of national newspapers.”

It said in the southern State of Karnataka the family of H D Deve Gowda, a former prime minister found itself trapped in a rape case of a kind not before seen in a country known for vicious crimes against women, especially those of helpless “Dalit” and tribal groups.

But recently a thumb drive emerged, containing 3,000 clips showing Deve Gowda’s grandson having sex with women including aspiring politicians, the family’s domestic servant and a woman in her 60s, begging for mercy.

The grandson, Prajwal Revanna, an MP, had fled the country. His father had been arrested for being complicit in the crimes.

“Rape, especially of poor and marginalised women, has been all but normalised in the country,” the article said.

Investigation needed into Spratlys dispute plan

China has produced what it says is evidence that the Philippines agreed to a “new model” for managing conflict over Ayungin (or Second Thomas) Shoal in the South China Sea.

The shoal, in the Spratly Islands, is called Ren’ai Jiao in Chinese. It is 194km west of Palawan, the Philippines, and is claimed by the Philippines, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The Manila Times reported a Chinese official this week presented what was said to be a recorded telephone conversation between an embassy official and Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, chief of the Philippines’ Western Command.

According to a transcript of the alleged conversation, China’s new model had been approved by Manila’s defence hierarchy, from Defence Minister Gilberto Teodoro down.

Under the proposal, Manila would send only one Coast Guard vessel and one supply boat on resupply missions to the shoal and would give 48 hours’ notice of the trips.

But, the Chinese official said, Manila has suddenly abandoned the peaceful-management plan. Recent resupply trips have been harassed by Chinese Coast Guard ships, with crews spraying Philippine boats with water cannon.

The paper said it could not confirm that it was Admiral Carlos on the recording, as he had gone on personal leave.

The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs warned people against falling for false narratives. But Teodoro hit out at the Chinese Embassy for violating anti-wiretapping laws.

China Daily, an official English-language newspaper, said in an editorial the main cause of current tensions between the two countries was the decision by the government of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, encouraged by Washington, to renege on the arrangements it had reached with Beijing to manage differences and prevent conflict.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian was quoted in Global Times, also an official newspaper as saying Manila had harmed its own credibility and put in jeopardy peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The Manila Times said in an editorial the Chinese embassy’s claim was alarming in the extreme. It said it believed the alleged recording was a fabrication but a full and open investigation was needed to find out the truth.

China gains from West’s Ukraine response

The West’s fixation with Russia and Ukraine could well lead to the loss of its global supremacy, according to an analysis distributed by the expert writers’ group, Project Syndicate.

The article, written by Brahma Chellaney, professor emeritus at New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research, says the longer the West stays distracted by Russia, the better it is for China.

Chellaney’s article, published in The Japan Times, says: “China poses a far greater threat to Western interests and the rules-based order than Russia. Whereas Russia’s designs are largely confined to its neighbourhood, China has the ambition to supplant the US as the preeminent global power. It may well have the means.”

The West, Chellaney says, has desperately tried to punish Russia since its invasion of Ukraine without harming itself in the process. “It has mostly failed. Not even unprecedented sanctions have derailed Russia’s economy, let alone compelled the Kremlin to change its behaviour.

“Instead, Russia has pivoted to a war economy: It now produces nearly three times as many munitions as NATO, including more missiles than it was producing before the war began.”

No country is profiting more from the Ukraine war, and the West’s response, than China. It is getting cheap supplies of Russian oil, gas and grains and is getting away with a huge expansion of its nuclear arsenal and its conventional forces.

“Small wonder that China is quietly oiling the Kremlin’s war machine,” he says.

In key seats, BJP can only go down

Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) performed so strongly in key states in India’s 2019 national elections that it only has one way to do – down. That is the view of Shashi Tharoor, a former External Affairs Minister and senior UN official.

Writing in The Japan Times, Tharoor says losses of a handful of seats in these states would mean BJP would lose its majority.

He says Prime Minister Modi’s campaign tactics show his mounting disquiet. “His anti-Muslim dog whistles have lately escalated into direct attacks,” he says.

Tharoor is not a disinterested observer: he is an Indian National Congress MP.

But an article in The Diplomat, by author Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, notes that a lower voter turnout in the current seven-stage election could produce closer contests in some seats.

It says that to win BJP must hold the fort in the Hindi heartland – states spreading over northern, western and central areas, accounting for 42 per cent of the 543 lower house seats.

Political observers are not convinced the BJP will meet its goals, the analysis says, as it had already peaked in these regions.

Turnout in the first two phases of the election has been lower than in 2019 -and lowest in the heartland states.

“Modi, therefore, apart from warning the voters of the danger of the opposition coming to power, is routinely exhorting them to turn up at polling stations in large numbers,” it says.

A story in Singapore’s The Straits Times says political parties and their partner groups are drumming up support among the 18-million-plus Indian diaspora, with such events as car rallies, poetry readings and conferences.

Even Indians abroad who might not be eligible to vote are being courted, the story says, in the hope they might influence family members in India.

Danger in waiting for mainland instructions

Political and business leaders in Hong Kong have scrambled to embrace mainland-style language, tone and narrative about the city, says commentator Wang Xiangwei.

“All this has given rise to a distinct impression that the city is hanging on every word from Beijing and eagerly awaiting instructions on how to move forward,” he says in a column in the South China Morning Post.

“That is where Hong Kong’s biggest danger lies. No one in Beijing has any clue about how to run a capitalist city like Hong Kong. [But] if the city remains passive, mainland officials will feel emboldened to boss the city around even more.”

Wang, a mainlander, is a former chief editor of the paper. He now teaches journalism at Hong Kong’s Baptist University.

He says the irony is that Beijing has already set out clear directions for the city. In a visit there in 2022, President Xi Jinping said the one country, two systems formula would not change – and that Beijing supported Hong Kong in maintaining the common law.

“That was the first time China’s top leader had highlighted the importance of the common law,” Wang says. “But its significance has not been fully appreciated.”

He says the common law has underpinned Hong Kong’s success and its status as Asia’s financial centre. Hong Kong should stress the importance of the common law system.

Since 2021, Hong Kong has used April 15 to mark National Security Education Day.

Wang proposed Hong Kong should fix a date each year to educate people about the common law.

Raising awareness of the role of the common law would go a long way to countering fears about Hong Kong’s future.

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