Ol’ Blind Joe
Poking the Panda
By Stirling Hamilton
I HEAR complaints echoing across the Letters to the Editor page calling for my denunciation and exile to China for seeking to defend that nation’s sovereignty.
I will respond to my detractors with decorum and good grace.
Each morning I watch the news from China, Japan, Germany, France, Al Jazeera, the BBC, ABC, SBS and Russia.
I have an abiding interest in studying the nature of propaganda, and I while away the rest of the day following professors, diplomats, lecturers, journalists, and gifted practitioners of science and religion.
Since former US President Barack Obama’s 2011 announcement of America’s pivot to Asia, I’ve been watching this realignment of forces and words intently.
We appear to be in the middle of a slow-motion Third World War between the US and remaining nations that have resisted American attempts to absorb them into its sphere of global influence.Read more
Propaganda is being used relentlessly.
I confess to being tendentious by expressing or supporting opinions that many others may disagree with.
But believing something simply because everyone else believes it is illogical and, frankly, doing so in an information ecosystem controlled by a handful of self-interested media tycoons is dangerous.
The rise of McCarthyism, racism and sneering references to the Chinese Communist Party instead of national government echo the worst reactionary excesses of the ’50s and ’60s.
It permeates our airwaves and its effects are insidious: 81 per cent of Australians now have negative views of China – twice that of a decade ago.
Olive branches extended to Australia in August by China’s deputy head of mission in Canberra, Wang Xining, and former ambassador Fu Ying in October have been ignored – ie: rejected.
China is a regional superpower and is contesting America’s place as the main global power.
This is why we should be looking for ways of living with China and adjusting to the changing international order.
Objections to China slapping seven anti-dumping tariffs against us is a bit rich when we’ve lodged 90 against them.
A related case occurred in August when Australia banned the $600 million sale of Melbourne-based Lion Dairy and Drinks to Mongolian manufacturing giant China Mengniu Dairy, in which the Chinese Government holds a controlling interest.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg rejected the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board and Treasury advice and said the proposed sale was “contrary to the national interest”.
Tensions between Australia and China include control of the South China Sea, which China claims as its own.
Chinese activities there date back more than 2000 years.
Chinese traders were the first to discover, name, explore and exploit the resources of the South China Sea islands, and the first to exercise sovereign powers over them.
Xingjian Province (home of ethnic Moslem Uyghurs) and Taiwan have been an integral part of China since 1600 AD.
When Japan was defeated at the end of World War II, it ended its occupation of the now-disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and numerous other former Japanese conquests in Asia, including the island of Taiwan which China now claims.
If a revitalised Japan can craft a mature, professional relationship with China, why can’t Australia?
America continues to maintain a large and powerful presence in the Pacific with 121 military bases in Japan, 83 bases in South Korea, four in Guam and five in Hawaii, where the US Indo-Pacific Command headquarters is based.
The US also operates military bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, hence China’s apprehension.
The costs I quoted in October for Australia’s military spending to counter perceived regional threats were life-of-use figures.
As US pioneer industrialist Henry Ford said, “I’ll give you the cars, just buy your parts from me”.
Australia’s 72 new Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth combat aircraft cost $44,000 an hour to fly, or $352 million over the multi-role jets’ 8000-hour lifespan.
America excluded other countries when it provided F-35 source codes to Israel in 2016, so we can”t fix a thing – only the Yanks can service them.
Australia’s fleet of six ageing Collins class submarines currently costs taxpayers $630 million a year to maintain.
Former Liberal Defence Minister David Johnston reckoned the fleet rarely deploys more than two of its operational subs at once – and we have trouble crewing them.
The Royal Australian Navy has signalled that our entire Collins Class fleet may need upgrading before French-built replacements are ready in 2030.
Australia’s former Consul-General to Hong Kong, Professor Jocelyn Chey, criticises Australian academic Clive Hamilton’s new book Hidden Hand on China as a “diatribe”.
“We do not need this hysteria when we are trying to maintain a modicum of practical relations with the People’s Republic of China,” Professor Chey wrote.
“The book in my view should not be taken seriously because it is biased, and therefore bad scholarship.
“Few people nowadays admit that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ but sometimes a book becomes a best-seller because it rides on the back of a wave of popular sentiment.
“It is sad that many now hesitate to write or speak about the state of Australia-China relations for fear of being labelled stooges.
“The phantom of the ‘enemy or friend’ Maoist rhetoric has been evoked and is running wild in the West,” Professor Chey said.
A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth – Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), German Nazi propaganda chief during World War II.