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East-West Strategic Temperature Hotting up in Asia-Pacific Australian elites are too complacent to see it

Tony Kevin

My former professional background as a policy planner ( 1985-90) in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and related areas where I worked for 30 years enabled me to hone the skills of ‘joining the dots’ between apparently disconnected facts. It was particularly easy to do so, as I read three stories about China on page 11 of the Australian Financial Review on Wednesday 24 July.

The first story concerned the significance of the latest Chinese Government defence white paper (the first in four years), which unusually singles out by name Australia as a country which ‘is seeking a bigger role in Asia-Pacific security affairs’, and as a country that China sees as ‘a new source of uncertainty in the region’.

Rory Medcalf of ANU National Security College and a former senior Australian Government defence planner was reported by AFR as commenting that he thinks this naming of Australia in the Chinese defence paper is a good thing, ‘because it acknowledges Australia is a country to be taken seriously. It doesn’t mean we are a target.’

This is one of the sillier things Rory Medcalf has said publicly about Australian national security since becoming a respected part of this public conversation, from which I am excluded because of my radical global political views.

There is no possible way in which it is a good thing to be named by China in this negative way. It shows that China has finally rejected Australian claims, of provenance going back to Prime Minister John Howard’s time, that Australia can be a good economic partner of China and at the same time a strong military ally of the US against China. Our attempts since Howard’s day under successive Labour and Coalition governments to ride these two horses have been correctly understood by China as self-deceiving hypocrisy and doublethink.

The Chinese government has come to despise Australian efforts to pretend, on the one hand , that it truly values China as an investor , our largest export market, and major source of property investment and education mega dollars: while thinking that we can without punishment from China increasingly lock ourselves into the American -led attempts to contain China strategically, as seen in myriad ways in the strategic decisions and expressed attitudes of Australia’s defence planning and national security sectors of government.

Every decision like the Huawei 5G rejection, noisily stepped-up US military basing in Darwin, singling out of China and Russia as the main targets of the Australian 2018 foreign influence legislation, declared strategic competition with China in the South Pacific, expressed enthusiasm for the unviable Quad strategic grouping, the kind of defence procurement decisions Australia makes aimed at helping the US to project long-range military power in the Asia-Pacific region, and reliably hostile mainstream media commentariat reaction to every Chinese or Russian assertion of strategic interests – with no Australian counter-opinions ever permitted to be expressed in mainstream public debate – sends the same Australian elite message to China and Russia: that however much we are happy to take their money in trade and investment, we see them au fond as the strategic enemy.

Now China, after being immensely patient for many years, giving our elites far more time than they deserve to come to see the error of such inconsistent indeed hypocritical strategic thinking, has served us up in their latest defence white paper the most unambiguous warnings of the consequences of our fecklessness.

But Rory Medcalf, in one of his more idiotic statements, thinks this is ‘a good thing’. And nobody in the mainstream Australian strategic world challenges him.

The second report on page 11 of the AFR last Wednesday was that important China-US bilateral trade talks are about to resume after dramatic suspension in May. This resumption is a consequence of the degree of US-China civil dialogue re-established between Xi and Trump at the June G20 summit in Osaka.

The resumption of these vital trade talks, after their abrupt breakdown in May, means both sides are seriously contemplating the renewed possibility of reciprocal bilateral trade concessions, whose negotiation will focus primarily on the self-interest of both sides. Trump, a transactional president, will not worry about the interests of third parties like Australia. And why should China do so, when we are now officially listed by Chinese defence planners as a new source of strategic uncertainty in the region, and a country that seeks a bigger military role for itself? Not a friend, clearly. And our trade diplomats would be naive to expect otherwise.

The third news story on page 11 of Wednesday’s AFR reported the first Russian-Chinese joint long-range air patrol in the Pacific, by three Russian and three Chinese military aircraft. They flew together through a ‘South Korean Air Defence identification zone’ (a zone whose legality is not recognised by China) and they flew over an island whose sovereignty is contested by South Korea and Japan. Reportedly, according to South Korean officials, ‘hundreds of warning shots’ were fired at them by South Korea.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Russian planes had been airborne 11 hours and covered 9000 km, and that ‘foreign fighter jets had escorted them on 11 separate occasions’. It did not deign to report any shooting. Perhaps warning shots were fired from a prudent distance, and ignored by the visiting aircraft?

Clearly, this flight did not lose its way and accidentally stray into South Korean airspace. Its route was a major test of resolve and can be expected to be followed by other such flights in future. The route would have been carefully planned and executed in unison by both highly expert airforces.

These were no ‘air space incursions’ as alleged by a US Defence spokesman, but deliberate assertions of Chinese and Russian freedom to fly in international airspaces as close as possible to Korea and Japan, as a demonstration of Chinese and Russian military capacities to operate as allies in the North Pacific.

The joint flights show how quickly Russo -Chinese military cooperation at the high-tech level is progressing. This is a lot more impressive than driving tanks together around the snowy Siberian tundra, and swapping friendship pancakes in military headquarters as Putin and Xi did a year and a half ago.

This was a delicate precision navigational exercise to fly a fleet of three Chinese and three Russian military planes (I note equal parity of forces, which itself sends an important diplomatic message) just outside Western alliance territorial borders. It would have required mutual Russian-Chinese military trust and mutual cool heads to ignore the warning shots and fly on together, an Impressive and significant military demonstration by any measure.

To the extent this was reported at all, as in the AFR article, it was reported as an escalation and a provocation of the Western alliance by Russia and China.

It was neither: it was a legitimate assertion of determination to protect mutual strategic interests close to Russia’s and China’s nearby borders in the North Pacific, through forward projection of both nations’ high – tech military power.

But do not expect Australian strategic planners, defence academics, or mainstream media elites, to join these three important dots and discuss their significance for Australia’s national security. And do not expect me to be invited to speak or write on these matters in any mainstream forum anytime soon. My writing will continue to be safely confined to the silos of my Facebook Page and personal email contact list.

Our reading and listening public, which fondly assumes it will read and hear truth and freely contested views in our mainstream media on important issues of national security, will continue to be deceived by our elites.

Tony Kevin is an Emeritus Fellow of Australian National University and a former Australian diplomat and foreign policy analyst 1968-98. He is the author of Return to Moscow (UWA Publishing, 2017)
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The Fake MSM are up to their old tricks again over Hong Kong.
They are peddling fake footage of “brutality and repression” by Chinese police.
The footage concerned is of South Korean police carrying out riot control training.
Expect a lot more lies to come from the state controlled BBC, Channel 4, and Murdoch’s Sky News.

Antonym
Antonym

a country that China sees as ‘a new source of uncertainty in the region’.

Get your head around how big China’s “region” is; it already stretches till Malaysia, a 1000 miles south of its own southern most border. Another 1500 miles south is no big deal for Xi Jinping and the PLA.
Imaginary Chinese isolationism has gone up in real smoke but the mirrors still work on some zombies.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

Let’s reduce this to the microcosm, as Alec Douglas-Home used to reduce the British economy to piles of matchsticks, the better to balance the national budget by shuffling them aound on his kitchen table.

1. Australians call everyone of potential utility value “mate”, much as strangers in the economic role of small shopkeepers or online salespeople call everyone “friend”.

2. Do they mean it, literally? Paul Keating reportedly comes to our comprehension aid here: “When anyone in the New South Wales Labour Party [the particular pile of whatever under discussion at the time] calls you ‘mate’ — mind your back.

3. So? So nothing to see here. Move along.

Igor
Igor

ZIONATO plans on basing nuclear weapons in Australia. That will make Australia a primary first strike target. Good luck with that.
America, Israel, and UK are thousands of miles from the blast zone.

DunGroanin
DunGroanin

To make up for my of topic – and to get back to China – bernard nails the ‘color ‘black’ revolution’ in HK.

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/07/violent-color-revolution-in-hong-kong-fails-despite-strong-nyt-support.html#more

This is what the internet is about!

DunGroanin
DunGroanin

Admin, maybe arguably O/T- i don’t know where else to post this but get your skates on!
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6225696-DNC-Trump-7-30-19.html
DNC case against Russia/wkileaks et al dismissed!

DiggerUK
DiggerUK

DunGroanin, I have only speed read the dismissal. I suspect this is something special for Julian.
To others who have read this judgement, am I correct……all allegations have been rejected?

If so, then I am reminded of how joyous I felt when I heard that the Birmingham 6, Guildford 4, Judith Ward and Nelson Mandela had their freedom restored.
Just rejoice at that news…_

DunGroanin
DunGroanin

Not sure about the totality of the attack on Assange – but certainly it seems that the whole DNC leak /wikileaks conspiracy to ‘incite a crime’ bs is dead. Funnily a certain Mr Mefsud was also on the DNC list, he too is cleared even though he didn’t enter a defence. The other interestibg thing I will go back to find is that the whole of the Russian govt defence was not addressed because they proved their mis-indictment quite early in their submission.

The can of worms – coming to a PM near you soon!

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

remember I mentioned the case Guilio Occhionero? who claims that his computers were fully tampered with, under arrest, and ‘stuff’ was planted on him by the Italian SS & presumably (with Mifsud included) they all fitted him up and 6 Italian SS were fired!: … & Hannigan was forced to resign from GCHQ, too and as for the Ukrainian SS, phew, one dept. after another: step by step everything & everybody is going to be hung out to dry, and hopefully finally everybody will begin to comprehend exactly what our Fascist Secret Services have been up to: collectively conspiring TREASON USA, with “Parallel Platforms”, planting evidence with Fake Emails Fake Texts Fake News and the full implications of Guccifer2:0 & Wikileaks Vault 7 releases, implicating the CIA & FBI and revealing their ‘Marble’ programming…

Mifsud & Marbles ? Somebody’s losing his marbles & >>>

Occhionero > Blackeye/Shiner in Italian, lol, you truly can’t make this stuff up …
Mueller/Comey & Co. Clapper & Brennan … squealing the loudest, previously, now very quiet, like Renzi Obama & HRC, all next in line 😉 which is why they have all always blamed Russia for their own treasonous actions …
Has anybody seen Hillary, just recently ? 🙂

DiggerUK
DiggerUK

Just rejoice at that news. This is going to be the gift that keeps giving for a while yet…_

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/30/dnc-lawsuit-trump-campaign-russia-email-hack-1441166

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

You nailed it…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0lhrzWtWMc

A must listen, no words suffice! but you can already buy the book …
Dig deep Digger, coz’ it’s jaw dropping ‘stuff’ 😉
& damned hilarious in many senses!

UreKismet
UreKismet

As long as everyone understands that this dismissal relates solely to a civil case, a scattergun “lets round up a list of everyone who we have been whining about since November 2016, then sue the pricks” that had no chance of getting up; as inherent to the suit was the claim that the result of prez 2016 had been fraudulently obtained and no federal judge is ever going to find in favour of that, as doing so would rip the foundations out of everything they claim to stand for, not least of all their own cushy little gig and certainly prevent them from ever jagging a cushy bigger gig.

Pretty much S.O.P. for these cases AFAIK. It is well known that both halves of the amerikan empire party regularly commit electoral fraud and any successful civil case much less a criminal one where the standard of proof is higher, must be big on physical evidence & contain some really egregious act to get up. Otherwise even the honest beaks pretty much make their decision on “they are as bad as each other who needs the hassle?”

This is why the counter-suit by the rethugs was also dismissed.

I suppose one could take heart from the fact that a civil case where the judgement is decided on the balance of probabilities rather than proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt indicates the state has a really tough nut to crack convicting Mr Assange, but in all likelihood that criminal ‘trial’ will be a classic star chamber set up with restricted discovery, secret witnesses and ‘pre-massaged’ judges – I don’t have much hope for either Julian or Chelsea if Julian is successfully extradited.

Without Julian Assange as a co-defendant it is tough to see the thugs successfully trampling over Chelsea Manning’s prez pardon – in fact even with Mr Assange standing next to her, copping such a slanderous shit storm that much of it splatters on Ms Manning, it should be impossible to send her down again, but nothing is impossible with the corrupt human hating US justice system.

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0lhrzWtWMc

Listen to this, no video to watch really, just do your washing up whilst listening & laughing and you’ll understand why Trump was waiting to talk face2face with Imran Khan 😉

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Ok UreK, I can see why you misread that, sorry for potential ambiguity. Surely, you can appreciate that what they had to discuss was not a conversation for the phone or Skype:
roundabout the time when I used to watch Khan at the Oval, in awe, my grandfather used to say …

“There is a time & a place,
for conversations with grace,
better in a neutral space,
but, always face to face … “

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Nice one, DG …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0lhrzWtWMc

When you listen to this book release, you’ll understand why Imran Khan was also in Washington to chat with Trump: damn jaw dropping stuff, what the Dems. IT guys were up to ! The racket included not just hacking the whole Senate & Congress, but physically stealing all their computers and servers &&& you name it, EVERYBODY was & is so embarrassed they were hoping to keep it under wraps, especially Ms. Wasserman Schultz…

bro. they didn’t even ever perform background checks on their IT guys … nothing !
Nonono, i cannot begin to describe this all in words, not time enough &
I’m laughing too much 🙂

William HBonney

Australia, the UK,the US and NZ have very few shared values with the middle kingdom. Is the author positing that western countries aren’t obsequious enough to China?

The middle kingdom is potentially an antagonist to western interests and demands robust treatment.

wardropper
wardropper

I can see you’re going to enjoy WW3 . . .
Treating China as if this was 1950 isn’t going to do anybody any favours.
Western interests are not the only interests that exist – and why should they be?
If you had been born in China, would you see any sense in having your existence controlled by the USA?
That was a rhetorical question, by the way.

Wazdo
Wazdo

This is just my opinion WHB, but I think one of the aims and objectives of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is to bypass the west entirely.

If the Chinese and Russians, Iran, Pakistan, and the “Stan” countries can create enough trade and economic activity with Africa and Latin America, creating enough economic well being for all then they may be able to turn their backs altogether on the US and its vassals.

In so doing they will be able to be free of the dollar and thus trade with the world according to international law: the USA and its vassals do not abide by international law.

What do you think?

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Seriously ? ! You are asking our resident Kabbala Haaretz Troll what he thinks ?

Better off asking him how much for his worthless words, that are explicitly designed to create confusion and inject divisions of any constructive thought processes,
in these threads.

You’ll see 😉 DR DADE rules ! 🙂

mark
mark

All these so called “disputed islands” were recognised as Chinese territory by the US until 1949, when its puppet Chiang Kai Shek was kicked out by Mao.

Then they were suddenly no longer Chinese.

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Too true, mark: back then, simply said the US followed the money purely, coz’ they were actually already bankrupt due to Woodrow Wilson’s BS financial plan, without any scruples, principles or sense of morality & respect for any given culture, inc. science & math. (rather like our resident troll here) and
whoosh, up popped wealthy Taiwan as a so called ‘independent’ entity … and then the CIA had ex-Chinese money to finance the Dalai Lama’s personal wages of $180,000 per annum, from 1945 -1974 and they could even declare that money on their bookkeeping back home in the states, until Nixon said enough is enough, “give the anti’-China Terrorist Dalai Lama a Nobel Peace prize in a few years time and nobody will know any better until it’s too late”. . . 🙂

Mucho
Mucho

Oh no, not the Dalai Lama as well. Hahaha. Reminds me of a doc I saw about how all the intelligence agenices flocked to India to monitor the activities of all the spiritual gurus

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Oh yes, Mucho, in 1999 the Dalai Lama said publicly that his biggest regret in life was aligning himself with and working for the CIA directly, whose goals & strategy had changed …

The CIA used to train the Lamas in the Rocky Mountains with a budget of $5 million p.a. and before the Chinese took back control from the truly brutal Lama Monarchists in 1959, the Lamas had murdered 500 innocent unarmed Chinese Municipality employees. Despite this, still today and for the whole of the duration of a Chinese presence in Tibet, they have always employed a Tibetan born Governor, with a Chinese deputy, still today, going back over 200 years.

I guess $180,000 wages was a lot of money per year in post war Tibet: regardless, the important thing to remember is that China will never trust the Dalai Lama’s misogynist bigoted monarchistic designs & intentions ever again, & justifiably so, because when you have the state responsibility to put 1.3 Billion portions of Rice on the table every single day, you need much water, which flows downstream from the Himalayas: and the very last thing any rational person would want is the CIA & easily corrupted egotistical monarchists anywhere near their key water supply to feed everybody, not just Tibetans.

P.s. the Lamas were well cosy with the Nazis, before WW2, entertaining them respectfully and they showed great interest in wishing to learn of the masterful methods of propaganda from Goebbels & others. “Peace in our Times” onto a Nobel Peace prize 🙂
Even the queen used to salute the Nazis, as a kid, in the 30’s 😉

William HBonney

the USA and its vassals do not abide by international law.

Neither does China

In January 2013, the Philippines formally initiated arbitration proceedings against China’s claim on the territories within the “Nine-Dash Line” that includes the Spratly Islands, which it said is unlawful under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).[54][55] On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal backed the Philippines, saying that there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources, hence there was “no legal basis for China to claim historic rights” over the nine-dash line.[56][57] The tribunal also criticized China’s land reclamation projects and its construction of artificial islands in the Spratly Islands, saying that it had caused “severe harm to the coral reef environment”.[58] It also characterized Taiping Island and other features of the Spratly Islands as “rocks” under UNCLOS, and therefore are not entitled to a 200-nautical-mile (370 km) exclusive economic zone.[59] China however rejected the ruling, calling it “ill-founded”

George
George

Yup WHB – nothing like a bit of “robust treatment” Hiroshima style!

DavidKNZ
DavidKNZ

NZ have very few shared values with the middle kingdom
Really??? This is Brontosaurus thinking.
At the local school, half the (fee paying) pupils are from Asia.
Along our street, about 70% are now Chinese- they come in on entrepreneur visas
using large amounts of cash to gain residency. Most of the ones I talk to have a portfolio of multiple rental properties ( no capital gains tax). They are polite, industrious and very family orientated. They are also well represented in top tier classes at Auckland University, and in specialist medical centres.
AS some of my Tangata Whenu friends say: “Its the third wave – get used to it “

Antonym
Antonym

Why would Chinese leave the main land paradise?
/sarc off

Martin Usher
Martin Usher

Historically the “Middle Kingdom” was just a convenient place to either colonize or treat like a colony. Its revealing to see movies and newsreels from the 30s and 40s that include Chinese or Chinese characters — when they’re not just faceless hordes they’re Charlie Chan types, its a real window into our attitudes. Its worth seeing those newsreels through modern eyes — those hordes are all people, people with lives, families, aspirations just like us.

Modern China has given those faceless hordes a sense of self and our reaction to their nation is indicative of our inability to see these people as our equals — yes, their society, culture and history is different, but its as valid as our own. Our weakness is that we can’t deal with anyone without an implied master/slave relationship so our reaction to a resurgent China is go into war mode — Cold now, hot maybe in the future. To me, this isn’t just a destructive waste of resources, its Fiddling while Rome burns because while we’re playing “Brandy and Cigars in the War Room” they’re quietly getting on with business — and eating our lunch.

Where to?
Where to?

“.. reliably hostile mainstream media commentariat reaction to every Chinese or Russian assertion of strategic interests – with no Australian counter-opinions ever permitted to be expressed in mainstream public debate”

Australia is where everything in corporate media is ScRiPtEd.

Australia has almost always been governed by advocates of neoliberal neocon extreme conservative right-wing agenda. The majority of the population –according to the official elections– are elitist, racist, very conservative and vastly support the said agenda.

Thanks Tony Kevin for this great article!

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

ScRiPtEd.

Nice one 🙂

Gezzah Potts

As a non Australian living in Aussie, the first two things I was thinking was ‘reap what you sow’, and having an image of Scott Morrison licking Trumps boots.
Of course, this is interchangeable with any Aussie Prime Minister and any U.S President such is Australia’s complete vassal state role in the Empire, and its unending willingness to tag along as deputy sheriff.
Its sad how this country effectively has no real independence. And yes, hypocrisy in spades from those who have tried to have it both ways.
Excellent article Tony, thanks.

Haltonbrat
Haltonbrat

The mention of Australia and Elites in the heading might seem to some as an oxymoron and put them off reading the article.

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Tony: This is one damn fine objective piece of ole’ school ‘Journalism’, exactly as any serious journalism really should be, for which I thank you. Thank you, also, especially for reflecting my thoughts on these matters, most calmly, eloquently, precisely & concisely … way to go.

Keep it up.
Best wishes,
Tim

Question This
Question This

My writing will continue to be safely confined to the silos of my Facebook Page

Don’t bank on it. Any coverage for anything other than the neo-liberal empires narrative, russia/china bad, will almost certainly be censored eventually.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

‘Our elites’ do the bidding of their elites:
The suited psychos of multi national corporations.
If a Chinese high roller insists on preferential treatment, he gets it.
If an (illegally ?) elected Chinese MP requires government backing, she gets it.
‘Our elites’ goose step to the Lords of Mammon.
”Twas ever thus.

DiggerUK
DiggerUK

A welcome article. I am taking it as read that you have not had an invitation to appear on QT.

Could I ask that you consider giving OffG your thoughts on the value of the ‘The Five Eyes’…_

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

I didn’t read your comment before posting mine, (something I’m trying to discipline myself to do 😉 ), but whilst I was typing, the back of my mind was thrusting thoughts on ‘5Eyes’ to my frontal lobes and therefore, I herewith second your request to Tony & OffG … 🙂

David Macilwain
David Macilwain

Tony Kevin certainly has some thoughts on the Five Eyes, as well as the “Two Is”, though perhaps not on their ‘value’. At this moment one of the most suspect members of the Australian government, Peter Dutton, is in London meeting with Five Eyes partners to discuss cyber security/warfare and other issues, while the foreign minister Marise Payne, who attended the “Media Freedom conference” in London recently is back in OZ meeting Mike Pompeo. Plotting no doubt. I think Tony has written for OffGuardian earlier about the Institute for Statecraft, and will likely be doing so again soon on its latest developments in Australia, we hope. It seems almost inseparable from the 5 eyes agenda with its focus on Russia and China and information control and manipulation..