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Chinese imperialism and future Australian sovereignty

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David Libra

Speak about destruction


Joined: 27 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:19 am
Post subject: Chinese imperialism and future Australian sovereigntyReply with quote

Is some sort of conflict with China a possibility in the coming decades? Such speculation might seem the domain of right-wing fruit loops like Jacqui Lambie, but Guy Rundle argues that we should be taking her words a little more seriously:

http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/08/20/rundle-the-coming-east-west-conflict-a-truth-we-dare-not-mention/

Quote:
Culture works like a camera obscura. The image is predicted upside down, and there�s a blank and blind spot right at the centre, by the very nature of the mechanism. Take our commemoration of World War I, for example. For the next four years we are condemned to a moment-by-moment recreation of this appalling conflict, which plunged Europe and its resistant colonies into three decades of blood and turmoil.

Yet the one thing we will not see discussed is the central point of the war � that it hid in plain sight, that the European powers were edging towards it for years and hiding from themselves the ample evidence (from the US Civil War, for example) that the conflict would be total and consuming. Such apocalyptic imaginings were contained in a slew of novels and cheap serials, while the official discourse was one of enlightened self-interest between powers.

So, to 2014, and Australia and China. It is obvious to anyone that not this decade, not the next, but in this century, there will be a reckoning between East and West, between the former imperial powers and the former colonies � including once-subject nations such as China. Such a conflict has nothing to do with race or cultural difference � though that may become attached on both sides, as motivating propaganda � but simply to do with the still uncorrected imbalance created when the European powers began colonising Asia in the early 19th century.

At its �best�, this encounter will be resolved with the crucial withdrawal of the United States from the Asian sphere of influence � the final acknowledgement of the end of its sole superpower status. The world will then be a multipolar place once again. As China and India become dominant global powers, other powers rise to second-tier status. The �worst� outcome would be a war, or series of wars, as the US and its NATO partners refuse to give up a dominance inherited from colonial-era imperialism.

Everyone knows this, every nation plans for it, and it governs a series of alliances and decisions. Yet it cannot be spoken of. In Australia this split mindset is total. The political-media elite who have been disturbed by the arrival of the unruly crossbenchers, enforce an absurd double act, in which we talk of China as our great trading friend, etc, etc, while at the same time strengthening a US alliance �- with the placement of 2000 combat troops in Darwin �- whose principal object of attention is the expansion of Chinese influence in south-east Asia.

Now Palmer and Jacqui Lambie have said what many people say between themselves outside the hushed halls of Parliament and News Corp � that it is obvious that this is the major question we will have to deal with over the next half-century and beyond (if Australia continues as an entity beyond). Palmer�s Chinese menu of contradictory assertions is simply designed to misdirect away from embarrassment around his alleged fast and loose use of funds from a holding company for his election campaign. The treatment of Lambie�s comments, though, is a grimly hilarious thing to watch � the worst thing to say, apparently, is that large states have interests, that geopolitical war is not a thing of the past, and that the West might not always be the most powerful agent in the exercise of such.

So the argument is that what will really sour Australia-Chinese relations is the remarks of one Senator once � and not the escalation of the Australia-US alliance to a whole new stage by the hosting of a troop base in our north. Apparently, this is something the Chinese won�t notice � just as presumably they won�t notice the West�s attempt to curtail their economic and diplomatic extension into Africa and Latin America, the attempts to enforce global currency settings of advantage to the West, copyright and IP regimes that raise Chinese business costs, a renewal of imperial encirclement by strengthening our alliance with Japan, and pushing for an end to the constitutionally guaranteed neutrality of the Japanese military � no, shhhhh, they never noticed any of that.

You don�t have to agree with Lambie�s solution to this � rearmament and our own missile systems, presumably nuclear � to see that once again, because of the new Senate arrangements, a conversation is being had that the political-media elite don�t want the country to have. This is an example of the strange somersault that has occurred in Australian life since the 2013 election. For years, the right-wing media elite � the wired-in �power intellectuals� who saw their role as doing the bidding of the Coalition, the US-Australia alliance, NATO and the West � bemoaned the rule of the elites, by which they meant, ordinary professional middle-class people of a left-liberalish tinge.

The �power intellectuals� � the Paul Kellys, Greg Sheridans, Nick Caters, etc � purported to speak for ordinary Australians against that. Well, the ordinary Australians are here now, in the Senate, albeit by a complex and contradictory process, and what do you know, they�re going off the script. In response, the right-wing media elite has slowly dispensed with its pseudo-populism. Suddenly, government is not something everyone can do, since what is required for government is the rigorous not-having of conversations about the most obvious global processes and array of powers.

Yes, there is little chance of a major geopolitical earthquake in the coming years. But you would have to be wilfully ignorant to not believe that the course of the century is not merely a strategic question for Australia, but an existential one.

This has nothing to do with �yellow peril�, or some sort of deep cultural drive for dominance, but simply with the same imperative that drove the First World War � if you jump first, you get an advantage. Competition for resources, economic crises, a rightward shift in the US, an upsurge of chauvinist nationalism in China, and elsewhere � all of these could create a situation in which China, or a wider alliance of powers, decide that it is no longer wise to tolerate a white-originated settler-capitalist nation-continent as a US outpost in their neighbourhood.

For years, we have been fed a degree of bullshit about how oriented to Asia we are, how integrated we are, how much they accept us. This fiction can only be sustained by our moronic refusal to understand the impact of European imperialism on Asia � the century of racist subjugation, free-market holocausts (which gave Chairman Mao�s worst mistakes a run for their money) and needless late imperial military slaughter we foisted on them. Yes, no one�s going to let that get in the way of business � the Chinese are as adept as Clive Palmer at switching from global capitalist smoothness to neo-Maoist rhetoric in a heartbeat � but no one�s under any illusions about what sort of power we represent.

We remain the last European colony in Asia � we simply colonised a people who didn�t have a unified state and society capable of throwing us off, and restoring their own autonomy. The only way we will ever have a real relationship with Asia is to repudiate the US alliance, remove both the new military bases, and the listening posts at Pine Gap and elsewhere, hand in the deputy�s badge. Compared to that, stray remarks by senators are of no import. But most likely we�ll stay in the shadows of the camera obscura, convinced that the US would come to our aid should there be a major re-alignment.

They wouldn�t of course, and really, if China and other Asian powers want us, they will take us � at some point 25 million people sitting on the world�s greatest mineral trove through sheer low density of population, need to get a bit real. There�s a point at which it is cheaper to just come and take it, rather than buy it � the minerals, the mines, and the temperate eastern lands which could host a lot more than five million rural Australians. Indeed, at some point, we may simply have to give up the continent to entirely new political arrangements.

That was how we were created in 1788 � there�s no reason to suppose it won�t happen to us in 2088, or 2056, or 2035. And there sure as hell is no reason not to talk about it, in full view, without the tricks of the light of a power elite, who would, unquestionably, welcome our new overlords, whoever they might be.


That last sentence is an excellent observation, I think, and it's a fear I've long held as well. Liberal and ALP kowtowing to the US is less about ideological alignment�and this is a great point Rundle makes in another article just published the other day�than it is about sycophancy. That's just the nature of politics in this country (and, perhaps, the world as a whole). As a middle power, we have always sold out to the highest bidder and probably always will.

If Rundle's right on this�and I'd be very interested in getting opinions on that from some of the more thoughtful posters here�and we should be expecting anything up to and including invasion by the end of the century, then we need to be prepared for that. That means devoting energy to defending the values that are most directly threatened by a shift away from American control and towards Chinese hegemony.

For me, the starkest difference between those two systems, in the sense that it might negatively impact on our way of living, is civil liberties, and everything that concept entails: freedom of speech (particularly in terms of political and artistic expression); freedom of information; freedom from surveillance; freedom from draconian work contracts; freedom from discrimination and oppression; and so on. If you're not fighting for civil liberties now, then you should be, because there may well come a time within our lifespans when we are no longer permitted to.

In the meantime, I suspect some sort of Chinese control of Australia in the future is probably close to inevitable�if not militarily, then certainly economically (and, by extension, politically). While we probably don't need alarmist militaristic nonsense from the Parma bunch, we need the "Pollyanna" responses even less.

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Last edited by David on Mon May 25, 2020 9:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mugwump 



Joined: 28 Jul 2007
Location: Between London and Melbourne

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:44 am
Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting article. I think our lazy political shorthand of "right-wing" and "left-wing" has become a massive obstacle to our thinking. Much of the time, foreign affairs and politics more generally is classified in terms of who associates with an argument, rather than with the merits of it.

One could write an entire book on this (35 Forever may do that if he comments on your post)!...and it is a hard subject to consider in this small space.

Let's just note that China is not a benign power, though it may become one in time. It is presently a highly militarised and authoritarian system, where the individual is subordinate to the interests of the state. However, all of its actions up to this point have suggested that it prefers to develop its power through commercial channels. As long as it can continue to do so, I see no reason why it should want to risk the despoliation of war.

That is one of many countervailing forces, and i think they reduce the real, foreseeable risk to minimal levels. For another countervailing force, any Chinese territorial ambitions toward Australia would see it contending with Japan in some form or other, as well as the US. In truth, the price of iron ore is unlikely to make that attractive. It is far more likely to develop its ambitions for mineral-bearing territory in Africa where there is limited competition and less sensitivity.

These fundamental drivers of China's interests are our best security, but Australia would do well to support international law and to cultivate positive relations with both the Us and with China; to permit a sensible level of Chinese inward investment, and to gently encourage China to pursue a Singaporean path to prosperity - the path I suspect China is likely to take, ultimately.

One last comment - Rundle's comment re to the First World War is a lousy example of writing history backwards. To take just one example, Britain's colonies were largely not "resistant" - Canada, Australia and New Zealand (inter alia) sent hundreds of thousands of young volunteers to the Western Front because they had deep (and real) ties of kinship, commerce and culture with Britain. Those have weakened now, and all's well for that, perhaps. But let's not misread the motives of those men who suffered through our own lens of cheap nationalism.

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pietillidie 



Joined: 07 Jan 2005


PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:08 pm
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All he's really sayingand this goes for almost everything I've seen written on the topicis that power can be dangerous and it's possible to speculate on the ways that might be so.

But he is doing the right thing by highlighting the destructive ignorance of the "the US will save us" fairy tale. This dominates the Australian psyche more than folkloric notions such as "mateship" and "bush life" could ever dream of.

There is no such thing as "good power"; power is only "good" when it is constrained in the same way that gravity is only "good" when the rooftop of the building has a guard rail around it. Power is a dumb force which has only one goal: Maintaining or enlarging itself. And that means the only game in town is balancing and countervailing power of any kind.

The US is just as likely to sacrifice faraway Australia or annex it and siphon off its resources as it is to protect Australia; the only determinant being which action is possible and perceived to be in the interests of maintaining its own power at the time.

It's time for people to let go of their Little Golden Book notions of "us" and "our history" and "those like us with their noble histories". Australia needs an agile, non-racist, rational foreign policy which engages all and favours nothing except an ongoing neutering of power whoever and wherever it is.

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stui magpie Gemini

Oh, the Premiership's a cakewalk


Joined: 03 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:45 pm
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It is an interesting article. Only an idiot would not factor in planning against military action one day given our position, and expecting the USA to be the saviour is just as dumb.

Asia is rising economically, big time. China owns a large chunk of the USA following the GFC.

Personally, my prediction is that while we will have China angling to make us economically dependant on them, the wild card continent is Africa.

In the majority of the continent lots of countries, most of them economically farked, lots of starving, sick and dying people, lots of mineral wealth and large areas that still have potential for agriculture if the soil degradation of recent decades can be reversed. Lots of wealth waiting to be plucked.

In the far north and connections, Islamic extremists running riot.

Picture the islamists working their way south, and China stepping in as the saviour with a lot less decorum or respect for human rights than the USA and sweeping people out of the way, then basically taking over the land. Who's going to stop that?

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Wokko Pisces

Come and take it.


Joined: 04 Oct 2005


PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:20 pm
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If we don't have a plan to build a nuke within a month or two then the only defence we have against China is the same one we had against Japan. Distance, stretched supply lines, naval and air power and an enormous, hostile landmass. Add to that an alliance with the USA that if nothing else sees Australia as a convenient floating Marine Corp base in the South Pacific.
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1061 



Joined: 06 Sep 2013


PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:50 pm
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The only way an Attack would cripple Australia is via the South/East coast, whoever attacked would need to cripple Melbourne Sydney and Canberra in one go to make it a quick and successful kill.
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HAL 

Please don't shout at me - I can't help it.


Joined: 17 Mar 2003


PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:54 pm
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Which way is that?
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Tannin Capricorn

Can't remember


Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Location: Huon Valley Tasmania

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:15 pm
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1061 wrote:
The only way an Attack would cripple Australia is via the South/East coast, whoever attacked would need to cripple Melbourne Sydney and Canberra in one go to make it a quick and successful kill.


Canberra? Get a friggin' grip. You could nuke Canberra on Friday and no-one would even notice 'till the following Tuesday.

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stui magpie Gemini

Oh, the Premiership's a cakewalk


Joined: 03 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:40 pm
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Tannin wrote:
1061 wrote:
The only way an Attack would cripple Australia is via the South/East coast, whoever attacked would need to cripple Melbourne Sydney and Canberra in one go to make it a quick and successful kill.


Canberra? Get a friggin' grip. You could nuke Canberra on Friday and no-one would even notice 'till the following Tuesday.


The ticker tape parades and general celebrations would start on Wednesday.

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Wokko Pisces

Come and take it.


Joined: 04 Oct 2005


PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:43 pm
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Lets hope China is never as warlike as our glorious Mother England. I bring you a world map showing the only countries Britain has NOT invaded (rest of the world is old school British pink).

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think positive Libra

Side By Side


Joined: 30 Jun 2005
Location: somewhere

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:46 pm
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stui magpie wrote:
It is an interesting article. Only an idiot would not factor in planning against military action one day given our position, and expecting the USA to be the saviour is just as dumb.

Asia is rising economically, big time. China owns a large chunk of the USA following the GFC.

Personally, my prediction is that while we will have China angling to make us economically dependant on them, the wild card continent is Africa.

In the majority of the continent lots of countries, most of them economically farked, lots of starving, sick and dying people, lots of mineral wealth and large areas that still have potential for agriculture if the soil degradation of recent decades can be reversed. Lots of wealth waiting to be plucked.

In the far north and connections, Islamic extremists running riot.

Picture the islamists working their way south, and China stepping in as the saviour with a lot less decorum or respect for human rights than the USA and sweeping people out of the way, then basically taking over the land. Who's going to stop that?


Love the way everyone ignores a pro USA post!

At the very least folks, you have to admit the last paragraph is frightening and also apt

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Mugwump 



Joined: 28 Jul 2007
Location: Between London and Melbourne

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:48 pm
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pietillidie wrote:
All he's really sayingand this goes for almost everything I've seen written on the topicis that power can be dangerous and it's possible to speculate on the ways that might be so.

But he is doing the right thing by highlighting the destructive ignorance of the "the US will save us" fairy tale. This dominates the Australian psyche more than folkloric notions such as "mateship" and "bush life" could ever dream of.

There is no such thing as "good power"; power is only "good" when it is constrained in the same way that gravity is only "good" when the rooftop of the building has a guard rail around it. Power is a dumb force which has only one goal: Maintaining or enlarging itself. And that means the only game in town is balancing and countervailing power of any kind.

The US is just as likely to sacrifice faraway Australia or annex it and siphon off its resources as it is to protect Australia; the only determinant being which action is possible and perceived to be in the interests of maintaining its own power at the time.

It's time for people to let go of their Little Golden Book notions of "us" and "our history" and "those like us with their noble histories". Australia needs an agile, non-racist, rational foreign policy which engages all and favours nothing except an ongoing neutering of power whoever and wherever it is.


I disagree. Who wields power - their history, culture, beliefs and intentions - is vitally important. The power of Britain and the US in 1940 was essential to the survival of civilisation, and the power of the democracies is inherently a great deal more benign and progressive than the power of dictatorships. Liberalism does not mean endless relativism.

The US would indeed sacrifice Australia to protect its own interests, just as Australia sacrificed Timor. Nations are not altruistic - but some are more progressive than others, and we should choose (and yes, "favour") our friends carefully in our international life, as we do in our personal life, without giving needless offence to those who have different traditions to ourselves.

Finally, the ANZUS Alliance has persisted for many, many years and I see no evidence of the US "siphoning" off our mineral resources.

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Last edited by Mugwump on Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tannin Capricorn

Can't remember


Joined: 06 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:49 pm
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Which post was that, TP?
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Mugwump 



Joined: 28 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:52 pm
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Wokko wrote:
Lets hope China is never as warlike as our glorious Mother England. I bring you a world map showing the only countries Britain has NOT invaded (rest of the world is old school British pink).



Who left those white patches ? Lazy bastards.

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Morrigu Capricorn



Joined: 11 Aug 2001


PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:06 pm
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So disappointed Clive apologised - they are bastards and mongrels!

Wish they would shoot a few ( nay a very big lot) more of their own Evil or Very Mad


Or if we had a nuke.............

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