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Hastie warns us to beware of the Chinese dragon

By Peter West - posted Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Last week Andrew Hastie, MP, warned Australia to be wary of China. Hastie had read John Garnaut's analysis of China's strategy. Accordin to Garnaut, Xi thinks "all the Chinese people should be unified like a strong city wall". The response was fairly predictable. There were mutterings and rumblings and then a disclaimer from Trade Minister Simon Birmingham. There's a monster in the room, but please shut up about it, was the message; though John Howard admitted that China was far more of a danger than it had been ten years ago. Of course, official Chinese media made the usual protestations about cold war rhetoric, anti-Chinese sentiment, racism and so on. But Scott Swift, a former US naval commander of the US Pacific fleet, said Australia would ignore the Chinese threat at its peril:

I find the discussion that's occurring in Australia right now quite refreshing.

What China's doing is embracing the international rules-based system where they think it advantages them and rejecting it where they think it disadvantages them. So China has a grand strategy, but I don't think the US does.


All around the world, the Chinese are carrying out that strategy to control and encircle the West. The old flashpoint of Jammu and Kashmir has been re-ignited, with some questionable moves by India's leader Modi; and thus Pakistan is already turning to China for help. Papua New Guinea has asked China to refinance its enormous debt. It slips ever closer and closer to becoming fully dependent on Chinese money.Wade Shepard describes how China has been snapping up ports from Piraeus in Greece to Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Darwin in Australia; as well as a majority stake in a port in Brazil. This positions China as a major world player in trade, manufacturing, and all other aspects of trade and commerce imaginable. How does China get its manufactures into Australia or the USA or anywhere else? On container ships unloading at ports around the world. We used to manufacture cars and clothing and shoes and other things in Australia, but all those jobs for working-class Australians are long gone.

China and Australian universities

Clive Hamilton has warned about the spread of Chinese influence, deriding student radicals defending China as "useful idiots". But I wonder if the horse has now bolted. Sydney University has two Chinese student groups and Chinese control the Students' Representative Council, Nick Bonyhady says.Chinese students make up the largest group of foreign students at many universities. Students who demonstrate in favour of democracy find that Chinese officials visit their families back in China. And the families warn the students not to take part in any demonstrations which might offend China. Apparently this practice has been going on at other universities and elsewhere for some time, Fergus Hunter says.

Meantime, any number of well-meaning people warn of moral panics and saying the wrong thing about the Chinese. Oh dear, we must not say anything which somebody could call racist. Heaven forbid. And thus the universities, which ought to be places of free and unrestricted debate, are the very place in which Chinese have a stranglehold on what is said.Hamilton is expected to speak publicly on this issue in a university on 28 August. This is a hot issue and ought to remain so. In the words of the Americans in the 1770s: the power of the Chinese Communist Government has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.

China's ambition: a tame Australia

I have written before about the immense scope of China's ambition. It's clear that China has a grand plan to make itself as it once was, the Central Kingdom. That meant, the country the world looked to for leadership in all things. From the Chinese filling up selective schools in New South Wales and as we saw before, dominating student politics at many Australian universities, it looks as if China is achieving its long-awaited desire to show its power and control Australian thinking. It's part of its plan to sweep around the Pacific and Indian Oceans, strip the USA of its allies and prepare for a world imperium.

But in the light of the threat of domination by a foreign power not interested in human rights, Australians chatter about things of very small significance. We argued for a year about gay marriage; yet the vote on that issue changed public opinion barely at all. We are now seeing equally bitter arguments about abortion. We knock down native bushland, removing the habitat for thousands of unique native animals, which are one of the reasons for tourists to visit. New South Wales wastes millions demolishing stadiums in Sydney and building toy light rail of questionable benefit and enormous cost. And we can't seem to construct apartments that won't half tumble down within twenty years.

Many Australians look with derision at the USA and the perpetual motion of its political machine, the hopeless attempts to get a more sensible approach to guns, its trivia-loving and self-obsessed media and the tangled world of Trump and his wealthy pals. They should look closer to home. China is making its plans spring into action every week. As Shepard makes clear, those plans are not really meant for today but for the next fifty and one hundred years.


Well might Andrew Hastie blow the whistle. He is at least one politician loyal to his country, though so many others tell us not to upset powerful trading partners. There have been predictable howls of protest about racism (sorry, folks, there is no Chinese race) and cold war rhetoric and so on from official Chinese sources and their Australian supporters. But Australia needs to wake up. The dragon is at the gates.

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About the Author

Dr Peter West is a well-known social commentator and an expert on men's and boys' issues. He is the author of Fathers, Sons and Lovers: Men Talk about Their Lives from the 1930s to Today (Finch,1996). He works part-time in the Faculty of Education, Australian Catholic University, Sydney.

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