//
you're reading...
Australian Current Affairs

China’s bullying tactics backfire in Australia


China USA Australia CartoonChina’s new leader, Xi Jinping, has revived Chairman Mao‘s doctrine of the “mass line”. The founder of modern China didn’t want the masses to have a vote, but he did think that it was vitally important to understand their views.

The “mass line” in Australia today contains an important message to Canberra, and to Beijing. More than a message to Beijing, it’s a challenge.

It’s contained in an opinion poll published on Monday by the Lowy Institute and it says three things very clearly.

First, the Australian people fully understand the historic scale and power of China’s rise. Three-quarters of people polled said the most important economy to Australia is China’s.

And the people know that, eventually, this means China will overtake America to become the world’s leading superpower. Six in 10 Australians foresee this.

Second, this does not make the people starry-eyed about China. Rather, Australians are increasingly wary of your country, Comrade Jinping.

Nearly six in 10 – 57 per cent – think the federal government allows too much Chinese investment.

And while most don’t think China is likely to be a military threat, a solid proportion of 41 per cent think it will be.

And the level of reassurance is falling. A year ago 58 per cent saw China as an unlikely military threat, whereas today that’s slipped to 54 per cent.

The overall measure of Australians’ “warmth” towards China is captured in the Lowy Institute’s “thermometer,” a gauge measuring how positively people feel towards a range of countries. Last year China was ranked eighth with a warmth of 59 degrees out of a possible 100, just under Malaysia and just above India. This year it comes in equal 13th with 54, below India and equal with Sri Lanka. But hold on – isn’t that just a result of the pernicious influence of the Australian media and Barnaby Joyce-style populism? Perhaps.

But there must be something else going on because the people’s impression of China has slipped in some other countries over the past year too, as measured by a poll for the BBC World Service released last month.

The annual BBC poll asked people whether China’s influence on the world was “mostly positive” or “mostly negative”. Of 25 countries ranked in the poll, China fell from fifth place last year to ninth this year. It was China’s lowest ranking in the eight years of the poll’s life.

It not only found that China slipped in the eyes of people in countries including France, Spain, India, Japan, the US and South Africa, it’s also fallen in China itself, by 8 percentage points.

A minority of the Chinese people themselves consider their country to be a positive influence in the world.

Professor Qiao Mu, of Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the BBC poll rating had put China in an “embarrassing” position.

“It seems China is getting rich fast but its influence ranking is dropping dramatically,” he told the South China Morning Post. “China is drawing more attention globally, for its increasing foreign aid and participation in international affairs, but now it turns out that the values and the political system China holds are not accepted by the world.”

He misses the obvious point. China’s values and political system had not changed from the year before. The new development was Beijing’s increasingly muscular stance in territorial disputes with its neighbours, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Like the people of other countries, Australians understand China’s rising power and are apprehensive of its intentions. That, apparently, leads to the third conclusion from the Lowy poll – Australians are seeking reassurance from their alliance with the US.

Overwhelming approval for Australia’s US alliance continues, much as it has for 50 years, with 82 per cent in support. This is as close as you get to consensus on any matter.

And while that’s down by 5 points over the year, support for the most recent intensification of the alliance is up; public approval for the deployment of US Marines to the Northern Territory strengthened by 6 percentage points to 61. The number opposed fell by 9 points to 34 per cent.

The Obama administration’s “Asia pivot” is designed to offer reassurance to the Asia-Pacific as anxiety about China rises. Last week the new top US official for East Asia, Danny Russel, said that there’s no place for “coercion and bullying” in the region’s seas.

He rejected China’s policy of refusing to deal with the 10 nations of ASEAN collectively in crafting a code of conduct for disputes – Beijing prefers to deal one-on-one to intimidate the smaller states.

Russel described this as “unacceptable”. In this he has the support of almost every country in the entire Asia-Pacific, with the possible exception of China’s vassal state of Cambodia.

Australians are realistic enough to see that they don’t need to choose between the current superpower and the future one, or, at least, not now. Asked whether it’s possible for Australia to have a good relationship with the US and China at the same time, 87 per cent said yes.

This is a contrast to the near-panic on this question in elite circles. The public attitude is relaxed and demonstrably correct.

Because while Australia has embraced the US Marine deployment, it’s also signed up to an annual leaders-level meeting with Beijing and hosts more Chinese foreign investment than any other country on Earth. But if the people are forced to choose, the Lowy poll tells us which way they’d jump. Asked which relationship is more important to Australia overall, 37 per cent nominated the China partnership and 48 per cent the American.

So the challenge to you, Comrade Jinping, is clear if you are going to take the “mass line” seriously. The assertiveness of your regime is backfiring. It is not awing the Australian people with China’s greatness; it is driving the Australian people closer to your competitor, the US.

And if you force the Australian people to choose, you will not like their decision.

Source: The Age – China’s bullying tactics backfire by Peter Hartcher
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 15,358 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

In a recent briefing, the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines warned, “I would characterize it as the Russians aren’t winning, and the Ukrainians aren’t winning, and we’re at a bit of a stalemate here.” So, where is the Russia-Ukraine war heading? What is Russian President Putin planning next? Is Europe ready for […]

China is defying global order to expand power, US admiral warns

China is defying global order to expand power, US admiral warns

The Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are destabilizing international order in an effort to expand their global power, Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, warned lawmakers during a House hearing on Tuesday. In his written testimony submitted to the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, Adm. Aquilino explained that the Department […]

China – Autocracy and decoupling technical tests

China – Autocracy and decoupling technical tests

We have noticed that the embrace with China had become suffocating in the last twenty years. The West universe of consumers and China the factory of the world. We started with modest and low value-added materials and products, to refine the trajectory and revolution to the most refined and complex technologies, such as 5G and […]

Four ways China is growing its media influence in Southeast Asia

Four ways China is growing its media influence in Southeast Asia

As President Biden welcomes leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to a special summit this week in Washington, D.C., his administration is affirming Beijing as the U.S.’s main rival and underscoring the region’s importance in U.S.-China competition. The two-day event is part of the U.S effort to woo ASEAN members caught in a […]

Confronting Russia will deter China, says Japanese defense minister

Confronting Russia will deter China, says Japanese defense minister

A strong international response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is critical to deterring China from embarking on territorial conquests in Taiwan or the South China Sea, said Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. “China has been carefully observing the current situation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and they are paying particularly close attention to what […]

How Russia-Ukraine copied Finland war without lessons

How Russia-Ukraine copied Finland war without lessons

Finland is a unique country with a distinct language and culture. However, its possession was always contested between Sweden and Russia. Though Finland mainly remained under Swedish control in 1809, it was annexed by Russia. Using the end of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in late 1917, Finland declared its independence from the […]

China plans system to take out asteroids hurtling toward earth

China plans system to take out asteroids hurtling toward earth

China plans to develop a system for monitoring asteroids that pose a threat to earth, highlighting the nation’s growing ambitions for its space program. The country will also explore ways for taking out asteroids that endanger the planet, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration, said in a TV interview, according to […]

Russia-Japan tensions flare anew over the Kurils

Russia-Japan tensions flare anew over the Kurils

Formally, Russia is not at war with Ukraine, where it claims to be conducting a so-called “special military operation.” But with Japan, given that Moscow and Tokyo never signed a peace treaty officially ending World War II, the two Asian neighbors remain technically at war. And after Japan recently described four Kuril islands whose ownership […]

Solomon Islands has Washington in state of alarm after a security pact with China

Solomon Islands has Washington in state of alarm after a security pact with  China

A tiny island chain in the South Pacific has Western governments scrambling after it agreed to a security pact with China that the United States and its allies fear could enhance Beijing’s military power in this strategically important region.  The deal between China and the Solomon Islands, a nation of 700,000 people that had deadly […]

China says its ‘future helicopters’ will be equipped with ground-breaking technologies

China says its ‘future helicopters’ will be equipped with ground-breaking technologies

Militaries all around the world are looking at integrating modern technology into their military weapons. China, as usual, appears to be making serious efforts to prepare for the future battleground, this time, with plans to include artificial intelligence and high-speed features in its future choppers. During a recent public lecture, a prominent Chinese military helicopter […]

%d bloggers like this: