Why are Liberals trashing relations with WA’s biggest export customer?

Mar 25, 2024
Conveyor belt moving iron ore in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

Andrew Hastie and Tony Abbott are trying to install a candidate in WA who has written a fictional book to scare people about a Chinese invasion of Australia.

Western Australia exported $270 billion worth of goods in 2022-23, of which more than half, $147.7 billion worth, went to one country.

Guess which one?

China’s 54.6 per cent share of WA’s exports dwarfs every other customer; the next biggest trading partner, Japan, buys 13.4 per cent of WA’s exports.

What China pays WA for iron ore and other goods works out at a stunning $51,723 for every man, woman, and child living in the state—very few places in the world enjoy such a bounty from a single trade relationship.

So why is the Liberal Party, which claims to be the party of trade and business, trying to trash it?

Liberals have worked to trash the relationship for at least five years, especially the Member for Canning, former SAS soldier Andrew Hastie, who has gone out of his way to attack and insult China at every turn.

Hastie has not acted in Australia’s interests, but on behalf of other countries in a way that undermines Australia’s, and especially Western Australia’s, economic interests.

Those other countries are the UK and the USA, our AUKUS partners who are banking $368 billion for submarines justified by making Australians scared of our biggest trading partner.

Why should an Australian politician boost Britain and America’s economies, at the expense of Australia’s?

For example, in 2019 Andrew Hastie gave a speech at the extremist British neoconservative think tank called the Henry Jackson Society, in which he compared the rise of China to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

He could not have been more insulting to China if he tried (assuming he didn’t).

China suffered terribly under Nazi Germany’s Axis ally Imperial Japan in the 1930s and WWII, with 15-20 million Chinese deaths from occupation and war.

All of China, including the Nationalists under Chiang Kai Shek and the Communists under Mao Zedong, fought on the side of the Allies against Japan; in fact, as documented in The US Crusade in China 1938-1945 by Matthew Schaller, US President Roosevelt’s envoy reported back that “while the Communists were undoubtedly social revolutionaries … they were also bona fide nationalists, who were eager to cooperate with the United States to defeat Japan and reconstruct China”.

China today honours its history of fighting with the Allies against the Nazi-Japan Axis, so naturally the Chinese were upset when a politician representing the Australian state that benefits the most from China’s economic rise made the comparison to the Nazis.
Adding to the insult, the London venue for his speech, the Henry Jackson Society, is a think tank of extreme neoconservatives who advocate invading and overthrowing all governments which are not so-called “liberal democracies”—including China’s.

As part of his anti-China agitating, Hastie is a member of a juvenile gang of politicians in Canberra who call themselves “the Wolverines”, after the teenage heroes of the 1980s Patrick Swayze movie Red Dawn, who fight back against an invasion of the United States by an alliance of communist countries.

Hastie’s juvenile gang goes around Parliament House posting stickers of claw marks on doors to mark their territory.

Curiously, whilst claiming they formed to fight for Australia’s “sovereignty”, in 2020 Hastie made the US Ambassador to Australia an honourary member of his Wolverines.

The sequel

Now Hastie is backing a candidate for Liberal Party pre-selection for the WA seat of Tangney who has written a fictional book about a civil war in Australia in 2034 instigated by … China.

Like Hastie, Mark Wales is a former SAS soldier; his soon-to-be-published book, called Outrider, is clearly inspired by the same Red Dawn fantasy and Cold War paranoia as Hastie’s Wolverines.

Over recent years Australian Chinese have grown increasingly concerned about the escalating war rhetoric in Australia about China, because they know China better than anyone and know many of the claims about China are ludicrous.

They have found it hard to speak out, however, because their loyalty has been called into question, including in the 2018 “yellow peril” book Silent Invasion by Clive Hamilton, who claimed without evidence that 20 per cent of Australian Chinese are loyal to China, not Australia; Andrew Hastie promoted this book in Parliament.

Despite that, some members of the Australian Chinese community in WA, and the Australian Asian community more generally, are speaking out about Mark Wales being parachuted into Tangney, where 16.5 per cent of residents are Australian Chinese.

The Australian reported on 17 March that Tony Chong, president of the Western Australia Chinese Chamber of Commerce, was very concerned about the tone of Mark Wales’ book: “The community feels, rightly or wrongly, that they are being attacked or singled out unnecessarily”, he said.

The Australian also quoted Suresh Rajah, a former president of the Ethnic Communities Council of WA, who said Australia’s history of “yellow peril” fears meant Asian Australians were particularly sensitive to any allusion to invasion.

“When these sorts of novels talk about an invasion from this group of people, it is really just exacerbating that stereotype that has been created,” he said.

Mark Wales’ backers, including Hastie and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, are trying to stack Parliament with China hawks to ensure Australia marches in lockstep with our Anglo-American AUKUS partners and their war agenda against China.

This is a moment of truth for Australia.

It’s clear that our independent national interest is to have good relations with our biggest trading partner.

China is not a threat to us.

We should beware politicians who are trying to incite fear of China to convince us to sacrifice our national interest instead of acting independently.

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