White Man’s Media: The Chinese warship sonar incident

Nov 23, 2023
HMAS Toowoomba arriving at Pearl Harbor in June 2018

What a feast of anti-China stories we have had again from the Coalition and our media over the incident between HMAS Toowoomba and a Chinese PLA-N destroyer. 

The whole issue really looks to be overblown – and seeded by some in the Sinophobia school who are worried about where Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong may be headed. The idea of “stabilisation” scares them, so they react by promoting some destabilisers.

The proposition that the Chinese warship was directed by Beijing – let alone President Xi – to initiate such “aggressive” action beggars belief. Like the ‘spy’ balloon exercise, where it seems clear enough that President Xi initially knew little about the whole thing.

Our ‘spooks’ depend on the CIA for about 90% of their overseas information and the Pentagon is building a network in our Department of Defence. I would very much doubt whether Albanese and Wong really know what ‘information’ the CIA and the Pentagon are feeding into our spooks.

The US expects that a pliant ally like Australia will do what it is told. It is concerned at recent events and prefers that we do not stabilise our relations with China. So this incident is a great opportunity for some destabilisation. And our poorly informed media tag along as always.

Given the unsurprising PLA comments the chances of misunderstanding the message or even miscommunication would have to rate high. If the PLA ship had been shadowing the RAN ship, which then decided to stop dead in the water to check for nets, would the Commander of the PLA ship not be a bit suspicious about what the RAN was up to and activate some of his intel alerts including special sonar to try to find out more? In any event presumably he would have had some of his sonar devices running while he was sailing anyway? Even if the PLA just happened on the RAN in the middle of the sea (electronically of course) would its initial reaction not be one of suspicion?

We probably will never get the real story of the actual communications between the two ships, but language problems cannot be excluded.

But Albanese and Marles (again and again) have been panicked into hasty responses for which we will pay. Marles should have tried to hose things down, but he invariably sings from the US song sheet. Albanese should stick to the line of not commenting in detail on his private conversations with world leaders. Blinken did this repeatedly over questions about the Xi-Biden talk. If necessary, the government can call in the Chinese Ambassador at Secretary level to make the point.

It is strange why Marles would want to play this up right now. The incident was not in the SCS but in Japan’s EEZ heading towards Japan. This could be in the contested area of the East China Sea, south of Okinawa.

It is also not clear what UN sanctions RAN was monitoring unless they were part of the regular monitoring of UN sanctions against North Korea. We have been doing that in the Sea of Japan further north.

These incidents should be sorted out by military to military communications and not as a stick for those who want to destabilise our improving relationship with China.

We would be more concerned if this incident occurred in waters adjacent to Australia and not in waters adjacent to China, which is already encircled by scores of US military bases. China would understandably be very sensitive about what happens in its proximity.

In any event, this incident is minor compared with the aggressive things we do that are hostile to China. RAAF P8 aircraft operating out of the Philippines drop Sonar buoys in the SCS to monitor Chinese submarines. This is not for the defence of Australia but to support the US in a possible conflict with China over Taiwan.

Our media have shown no interest in this issue. It does not fit the Western ‘China threat’ narrative that our White Man’s Media works so hard to construct and maintain, and so is ignored.


Chinese readers might be interested in this version published in the China Daily (HK) on 25 November, 2023


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