We once ludicrously feared Reds under beds. Now, they’ve made the beds we lie in, writes Peter Goers in his monthly column.
“Revolution is just a t-shirt away” sings Billy Bragg. The t-shirts are made in China like everything else. We wear and consume the proof of the success of the Chinese Revolution and the Chinese drink our wine, use our peerless iron ore, eat our tucker and enrich our entire tourism and education sectors. It is almost impossible for almost anyone in the world to go a single day without buying or using something from China.
China is the engine of the world and China now rules the world economically. We once ludicrously feared Reds under the beds. Now they’ve made he beds we lie in. One in five people in the world is Chinese.
The People’s Republic of China (as even ardent conservatives attest) achieved the greatest social, political and economic miracle in world history by raising 1.5 billion people out of feudal poverty into a middle class in 50 years. China has wisely followed the American and British examples of economic colonisation of the world but avoided the appalling errors of fighting useless and expensive wars to invade the world. China has not caused a war for hundreds of years.
The economy of the world is predicated on China. We ignore China’s communism when we make money from it but because of the Covid-19 virus we are suddenly sabre-rattling and loathing China’s political system. Hypocrisy rules. Britain lied about Covid-19 mortality rates and Trump’s USA continues to exacerbate the virus. Has Australia demanded an inquiry into those countries? No. Japan has been building islands for decades with no international criticism. China builds islands and we send gunboats. Australia rails against China’s human rights violations yet we continue to imprison refugees in concentration camps, continue to treat Aboriginal people appallingly and Australia is the nation which persecuted and demeaned the Chinese and others through the iniquitous White Australia Policy for most of last century. Australia continues to treat the Chinese with racism and suspicion through a genetic disposition to distrust the “Yellow Peril”.
We despair of Chinese surveillance of its citizens yet increase surveillance on our own citizens. We despair of the Chinese persecution of minority races yet we are eternally trying to weaken our own Racial Discrimination Act. Our government is trying to suppress the press. We welcomed the English Lords Vestey and McAlpine owning half of northern Australia and allowed them to exploit workers, we allow American surveillance and military bases yet we resent any Chinese investment in Australia.
China is a developing nation and far from perfect but we have much to learn from it. The cold war against China is damaging and dangerous. The British tried twice to poison and weaken the Chinese through opium addiction, invaded China and stole Hong Kong. There are Australians and Americans who’d gladly try to repeat that. Sadly Sinophobia is back officially and publicly as Australians are spitting on Chinese-Australians. Shame.
We are encouraged to criticise China but we reel against Chinese criticism of us. Isn’t Prof Kam Louie right when he says Australian leadership is “male, pale and stale” and aren’t the Chinese right when they Australia is America’s dog?
The Chinese came to Australia before the British, traded peacefully with Aboriginal people and had the good manners not to invade, claim the country and dispossess and massacre Aboriginal people. America and Britain are dying. China is flourishing. Napoleon was right when he said 200 years ago; “China is a sleeping giant. When she wakes she will move the world”. Australia must move with and not against China with respect and showing good example. Then we grow together in the great leap forward. Put that on a t-shirt made in China.
Peter Goers can be heard weeknights and Sundays on ABC Radio Adelaide
This article is posted with the agreement of Peter Goers.