//
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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 14,836 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

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

China decides to engage with Afghanistan’s Taliban to further persecute Uyghurs

China decides to engage with Afghanistan’s Taliban to further persecute Uyghurs

With the United States withdrawing and the Taliban having swept to control of about half of Afghanistan, few observers give the Afghan government much chance of survival. September may be a decisive month, when the withdrawal is complete and American air operations against Taliban positions end. That is the background to Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s […]

Cadence Column: Asia, August 2, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, August 2, 2021

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is trudging through China’s backyard. Chinese government news “Global Times” describes Britain as trying to relive its old days. China was never happy about getting its ass whipped twice in the Opium Wars, which China provoked with its economic philosophy that “sliver-in, tealeaves-out” was sustainable trade. China, now with […]

Attacks on foreign journalists in China cast shadow over Beijing’s upcoming Olympics

Attacks on foreign journalists in China cast shadow over Beijing’s upcoming Olympics

After promises during the 2008 Olympics, “[f]ew could have imagined the CCP stooping to the level of running campaigns against individual news reporters and outlets, resulting in harassment and death threats against foreign reporters,” writes William Nee. On July 20, in the central plains of Henan province, one of China’s most important regional cities, Zhengzhou, […]

Tibet and China clash over next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama

Tibet and China clash over next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama

A couple of years ago, during a meeting of Tibetan leaders in Dharamshala in India, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was asked about his reincarnation. Addressing the room of monks, religious teachers and Tibetan politicians, the Dalai Lama asked them to look into his eyes. “Do you think it’s time now?” he asked. It […]

China orders one member of each Tibetan family to enlist in the military to fight against India

China orders one member of each Tibetan family to enlist in the military to fight against India

China has been hatching several conspiracies since its defeat on the eastern Ladakh border against India last year. Considering the fact that Tibetan youth can play a vital role in fighting India in the Himalayan mountains on the borders of eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, China has made it mandatory for one member of every […]

China warns UK as carrier strike group approaches South China Sea

China warns UK as carrier strike group approaches South China Sea

China has warned the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth not to carry out any “improper acts” as it enters the contested South China Sea. ‘The People’s Liberation Army Navy is at a high state of combat readiness’ says the pro-government Global Times, seen as a mouthpiece for the […]

China Has Reportedly Launched a Little Baby Version of the US X-37B Spaceplane

China Has Reportedly Launched a Little Baby Version of the US X-37B Spaceplane

A Chinese aerospace manufacturer hailed a successful test flight of a new spaceplane that will broaden China’s reusable spaceflight capabilities. The unnamed craft reportedly takes off like a rocket and lands like an airplane, much like the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B (pictured above), but can’t go all the way into orbit like the American spaceplane […]

China Discovers the Limits of Its Power

China Discovers the Limits of Its Power

Beijing’s confrontation with Australia should have been an unequal contest. That’s not how it worked out in practice. “Chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes.” That’s how Hu Xijin, the editor of the Chinese Communist Party–run Global Times, described Australia last year. The disparaging description is typical of the disdain that China’s diplomats […]

China looking at expropriating foreign-held tech shares

Those foreigners who hold shares in Chinese tech companies are being warned that all is not well. It is China expert Gordon Chang who explained at Gatestone Institute, where he is a distinguished senior fellow and a member of the advisory board, that the nation controlled by a repressive Communist regime is “on the road […]

Cadence Column: Asia, July 26, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, July 26, 2021

While a typhoon largely evaded Taiwan over the weekend, tragedy struck the mainland. Shanghai faced flooding and death while India suffered a landslide in the Himalayas. In a shocking video, one boulder took out a bridge. Several people died. But, speaking of Taiwan’s tendency to fall out of manure smelling like roses, there’s nothing like […]

%d bloggers like this: