Very recent actions by the US and Australian governments, and statements in both countries, make it clear that our Foreign and Defence Ministers will be invited to sign on to a full-fledged anti-China campaign and even a coalition when in the US this week.
Our Government may have done this already, without any public debate. Our most respected former Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard, has expressed caution and concern at this policy direction.
The US action in closing the Chinese consulate in Houston, and our actions in declaring Chinese claims in the South China Sea illegal, and participating with the US in naval exercises there, make it clear that decisions have been taken already. And a series of (somewhat shortened) press reports, as it happens all from the “Weekend Australian”, clearly show our and the US positions, the contrasting Chinese position, and Prime Minister Howard’s concerns:—
25-26 July, Ministers Payne and Reynolds.
“……there is no relationship that better spans the full spectrum of values, history, practical benefit, evolving interests, economic exchange and natural affiliation as our alliance with the US…..We face a public health crisis, economic upheaval and resurgent authoritarian regimes using coercion in a bid to gain power and influence at the expense of our freedoms and sovereignty…..Sweeping and vague ‘national security’ legislation imposed on Hong Kong has undermined the rights, freedoms and futures of millions of people. Coercive actions in the South China Sea, such as the escalation of disputes and militarisation of disputed features, continue to create tensions that destabilise the region. Cyber attacks are on the rise, while authoritarian governments imperil hopes for an open…..internet.”
25-26 July, US Secretary of State Pompeo.
“…..I call on all nations to….insist on reciprocity, transparency and accountability from the Chinese Communist Party…..today we sit wearing masks and watching the pandemic’s body count rise because the Chinese Communist party failed in its promises to the world……reading new headlines of repression in Hong Kong and Xinjiang…seeing staggering statistics of Chinese trade abuses that cost American jobs and strike blows to our companies…..watching the Chinese military grow stronger and more menacing…..We can’t face this challenge alone. The UN, NATO, the G7, the G20, our combined economic, diplomatic, and military power is surely enough to meet this challenge, if directed properly….Communists always lie”.
18-19 July, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“The US-China relationship faces its most severe challenge since the establishment of diplomatic ties”. He said China had no intention of having a full-scale confrontation with the US and urged Washington to resume contacts and restore stability to ties. “Only communication can dispel falsehoods. Only dialogue can prevent miscalculation.”
25-26 July, Former Prime Minister Howard.
Speaking at an event held to mark 15 years of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement…..Howard said that despite Australia’s “deeply held relationship” with the US, its ties with China were also vitally important. “China still remains our major export destination. And at a time when that relationship is extremely difficult, and there is a level of aggression by the Chinese in the context of that relationship…..I hope all Australians remember just how critical the Chinese market is to Australia’s economic future.”
See link below to article in Global Times from China. It is headed …’Australia unwisely boards US leaky boat to meddle in South China Sea ‘ The ante has certainly been upped. As John Howard has warned, our support for Donald Trump will not be risk free.