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  • Writer's picturePete Jonson

Australia and China

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

Several nice articles today worthy of helping Aussies understand what to do about China. The tiny chink of light is a slightly positive comment by the Chinese Foreign Minister. Too soon to breaking out the bubbly but enough to allow for a beer or two.

Dr Paul Monk

My favourite article this weekend is from the Australian by Paul Monk. What follows is the 'five points' Paul provided. I am providing a link to the full article which will add quite a bit of interest.

'Contrary to the Saruman-like advice that we distance ourselves from the US — especially given the outcome of last year’s presidential election — and appease Beijing, we must now base our strategic policy vis-a-vis China on five deliberate steps:

• Stop talking up China’s rise but instead scrutinise its vulnerabilities and inefficiencies while openly exploring the prospects for encouraging a “remaking of the leviathan”.

• Deepen our diplomatic co-ordination and security dialogue with our partners in the Quad about the Indo-Pacific and ways to constrain China within the bounds of liberal norms.

• Insist on a level playing field with China as regards trade, investment and information flows. Such conditions have not been, are not now and for the immediate future will not be met by the Beijing regime. Therefore, we cannot have a trusting relationship with it. In consequence, it must be made to suffer proportionate and transparent costs until it mends its ways.

• Configure our information warfare capabilities not only to block Chinese hacking and interference but also to push back by consistently documenting and projecting the abuses and inefficiencies built into its rule and its strategic policy, while talking up the attractive prospects for a more open and tractable China.

• Educate a cadre of China specialists with the language skills and analytic abilities to deal with the strategic deception, disinformation and negotiating strategies of the CCP.'

Dr Monk's final thoughts are also worthy of adding here. There are alternative mini-scenarios for China’s near-term future. There are others.

'To explore such scenarios, we need fresh perspectives. Late last month Ezra Vogel, author of a major 2011 biography of Deng Xiaoping, died at the age of 90. He hailed Deng as the hero of the economic “transformation of China”.

'Next year will see publication of a biography of the man whom Deng prevented from leading the political transformation of China — Hu Yaobang (1915-89).

'The life and death of Hu should thenceforth replace the life and work of Deng (to say nothing of Xi) as our guide to the nature and fate of the Chinese Communist Party.

'The biographer, Robert Suettinger, is a veteran China hand and his book draws on the labours of many Chinese reformers, dissidents and scholars in showing that Hu was “the conscience of the party” but was thwarted and humiliated by Deng in 1987-89 because he was encouraging principled political reform.

'This, in the era of Xi, must now become our master narrative about the CCP. For just as Medcalf’s book shows us the way to rethink our place and possibilities within the Indo-Pacific, Suettinger’s path-breaking biography of Hu will show us how to reframe our understanding of the whole history of the party.

'Grounded in those two narratives, we will be able to press for ways to have the Communist Party, at long last, set China free to fulfil its potential and take its place among us as an honoured and trusted friend, not as an overbearing and threatening totalitarian state.'

Here is a link to the full article.


Two other articles worth reading today are as follows:

The Weekend Australian's editorial 2 January 2021,

The AFR's 'Back Behind the Bamboo Curtain, Michael Smith, Perspective


Fiona Prior brings Henry's readers a peek into the Cinéphile Hub of the the Sherman Centre for Culture & Ideas (SCCI). Remember Zandra Rhodes? How could you forget her. More here.

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