Liberal-front-bench-gallery-496x620It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak out and and remove all doubt.

– Abraham Lincoln

There are a myriad of factors to be taken into consideration when examining the relationships between China, Japan, and for the sake of convenience, we’ll label ‘The West’.

Japan has never forgiven China for its attempted invasions in 1274 and 1281.

If the reader feels that this is a long time to bear a grudge, they should turn their attention to the historic roots of the blood-feuds in the former Yugoslavian Republic.

China, on the other hand has never forgiven the Japanese for the invasion of Manchuria and the atrocities that followed.

Nor has China ever forgiven the West for the ‘carve-up’ of the country following the Boxer Rebellion, or the efforts at ‘containment’ during the Cold War.

Both nations regard each other and the West with a certain amount of unease.

Japan is deeply concerned about China’s increasing military might and its claims to territorial sovereignty over the Diayo or Senkaku islands (China also has similar claims to the Spratly islands in the South-China Sea).

China for its part, regards the rise of Japanese nationalist sentiment under Shinzo Abe and his declaration that he will make Japan a force for peace and stability through proactive contribution, as uncomfortable echoes of ‘The Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere’ of the 1920s.

Therefore, all diplomatic efforts on the part of the West in defusing the current tension between Japan and the PRC, need to be undertaken with a great deal of delicacy.

Delicacy and diplomatic subtlety however, does not appear to be in the Abbott government’s lexicon as proved with with the current row between Australia and Indonesia.

Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop’s summoning of the Chinese Ambassador to express Australia’s displeasure at the PRC’s actions are similar to that of an ant rebuking an elephant.

In the eyes of the Chinese government and indeed the rest of Asia, Bishop’s remarks only serve to confirm that Australia is a small nation with the characteristics of a colonialist lout whose ideas of importance are far above its station, and who hides behind its big brother, the United States.

This is not to say that Australia should not express its concern at the situation, nor is it to say that China should be allowed to do as it pleases, but a simple note through the normal diplomatic channels would have served Australia’s interests far better than calling in the Chinese ambassador and demanding a ‘please explain’.

The Abbott government has already put itself at a disadvantage with the PRC by declaring its eagerness to complete a free trade deal between Australia and China before the end of 2014.

This give the Chinese government the upper hand in negotiations and there can be little doubt that Beijing will drive a very hard bargain, as they have already expressed in reply to Bishop’s outburst.

The fact that in the new century, Australia needs Asia a lot more than Asia needs Australia seems to escaped the current government’s notice.

Similarly to Indonesia, if China decides that doing business and maintaining cordial relations with Australia is not worth the effort, then Beijing will simply say ‘beam me up Wang, there’s no intelligent life here’ and take their business elsewhere.



    1. Thanks for the comment Ramblings. The real tragedy is that none of them do! They seem to suffer from the delusion that because Australia is a client state of the US (and you could hardly describe it as anything else), that somehow it makes us superior.


  1. Sometimes the arrogance of this government astounds me.

    On another point – is it just me, or are they very inconsistent in which foreign issues they choose to criticise? I’m thinking West Papua (where Tone said they were better under Indonesia) and Sri Lanka where Tone praised the President and gifted him a couple of boats. Even Cameron had the balls to make a statement at CHOGM, and Canada the balls to boycott said event. So why pick on China – our largest trading partner? ??


    1. It’s a very good question Marfi, and one that’s not easy to answer, so stay with me – it could be a little long winded- but I’ll do my best to keep it short.
      As far as Australia is concerned, China is the double headed dragon. One head is our largest trading partner, and we’re just as happy as a sand boy to provide them with raw materials -especially coal- to keep those warm export dollars rolling in. For its part, China is also very happy with the arrangement to the extent that it has granted Australia guaranteed access to the Chinese leadership every twelve months coupled with a direct currency exchange.
      This means Australia can pay directly with Yuan rather than converting the Australian dollar to US dollars and then making payment. This arrangement saves both sides billions in transfer fees and Beijing only extends this arrangement to two other countries – the US and Japan.
      This illustrates just how valuable Beijing regards its relationship with Australia for both exports of raw materials and imports of Chinese manufactured goods.
      The other head is – and I say this with tongue firmly in cheek- the ‘evil’ head. The head that represents China as a rising military power and the one that the US fears (and knows) will challenge it for primacy in the Asia-pacific region. In short, its the old fear of the ‘Yellow Peril’ revisited. From the beginning of the Cold War to the present, the US has always pursued a policy of ‘containment’ toward the PRC with Japan at the northern end and Australia at the southern end. This enables the US to use both nations as military bases should conflict arise between China and the US.
      So, when Bishop ‘carpeted’ the Chinese ambassador over the declaration of ‘the no fly zone’ issue in the north China sea, she was simply dancing to Washington’s tune. This stance by Canberra is however, a dangerous bagatelle for Australia especially when it is really none of our concern. China is determined to establish its primacy in Asia and may possibly declare its own Monroe Doctrine ( you might like to Google what that means) in the foreseeable future. Should Beijing do this, short of all out conflict, there’s not a lot that the US can do about it and Washington knows it. Should conflict arise, then Australia would be in the unenviable position of having to side with the US against its major trading partner. This would be a disaster in the long term for Australia’s future in the region no matter what the outcome.
      The Abbott government seems to believe that the US will maintain hegemony in the region for ever and ever and nothing will change which simply goes to show how blind and stupid this government is in its approach to foreign policy especially in what the pundits are already calling the Asian century. I could go on, but I’m sure that you’ve got the picture.
      Thanks for the comment and the intelligent question.


      1. When will we be grown-up, stand on our own two feet and stop doing the bidding of the US? Our sycophancy sickens me.

  2. To be Prime Minister of Australia you have to be seen jogging or cycling, Edward.

    Healthy body, healthy mind, and all that, despite recent evidence to the contrary.

    But back to China.

    One thing Keating did get right: “We must find our security in Asia, not from Asia.”


    1. Very true John. Unfortunately, this government is still locked into ‘the white mans burden’ mentality when it comes to conducting relations with our neighbours.
      Thanks for the comment, always appreciated.

      ps I’ve taken up the sport of hurling – I hurl abuse at at the telly every time I see Abbott’s face.
      Apparently its rapidly growing in popularity with a great many Australians.


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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