Looking down the road

Woman-with-dog

Christina Zhou, ‘Chinese cities enforce their own versions of the Social Credit System to target issues in their area’, ABC News, 15.11.18

…In Jinan, a city in eastern Shandong province, authorities have rolled out a credit scoring system to enforce responsible dog ownership.

After enforcing the system in January last year, recently released figures show some 1430 owners have been penalised, with more than 120 temporarily surrendering their beloved pooch after losing all their points, according to a CCTV news article on Jinan’s SCS website.

Just like an Australian driver’s licence, the pet demerit system gives every registered dog owner a licence with 12 points, and penalises owners for every infraction.

First-time offenders who walked their dog without a leash or tag, or didn’t clean up after their pet, or were reported for a disturbance, were docked three points.

Second-time offenders were fined 200 to 500 yuan ($40 to $100) and penalised six points, and those offending for a third time would lose all 12 points and be forced to surrender their dog, the provincial SCS website states.

Meanwhile, pet owners who failed to renew their dog registration every year would also have their dog temporarily taken to a kennel until they passed an exam on dog-keeping regulations.

A China Daily report published this year said complaints about owners walking dogs without a leash dropped by 43 per cent as a result of the credit system, while state media Legal Daily commended the “effectiveness” of the system and argued for it to be rolled out across the country. …

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Comment on ‘The Suicidal Empire’ and the rise of China

Deng_Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping in 1979

I disagree with ‘salvaging the principle of empire’ (Dmitry Orlov, ‘The Suicidal Empire’, Desultory Heroics) as a solution to the problems discussed by the author above. To do that would be to remain entrenched in them, under the name of another nation.

Engels predicted in 1894 that the development of capitalism in China would force millions from that country and, given the size of China and the number of Chinese, would force the US and Europe to become socialist – in order to continue competing with China. He wrote ‘thus the conquest of China by capitalism will at the same time furnish the impulse for the overthrow of capitalism in Europe and America…’ (Engels to Friedrich Adolf Sorge in Hoboken; London, November 10, 1894, Marx Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1982, 450-451)

China is not capitalist and it carries the lessons of socialism – learned at immense cost both from its own history and from that of its revolutionary precursor the Soviet Union. Where Lenin, while acutely aware of the problems in developing from an impoverished base, failed with his limited NEP because of his hatred for the bourgeoisie, the Chinese, in also developing from an impoverished base, have learnt a crucial lesson – to relax an obsession with Marxist theory and a hatred for anything bourgeois and to recognise the necessity of incorporating financial reward for individual initiative as a key driver for economic development. The benefits of this have shown clearly since the reforms of Deng Xiaoping.

Those reforms have resulted in hundreds of millions being rapidly lifted into a degree of wealth referred to in the West as ‘the middle class’ – a development still very much underway. The middle class in the West, on the basis of its wealth, education and common values has had and continues to have (despite the present ongoing depletion of that class) a powerful political voice and I expect the Chinese with that same degree of wealth to want that as well. 

And this in a state governed by and with the benefits of a single party (without the wasteful stupidity of obligatory opposition) which shows not only great sensitivity to what is taking place in China and its position of leadership (e.g. their continuing crackdown on corruption) but a flexibility and a willingness to experiment with socialism.

The Chinese Communist Party is doing what the Communist Party in the Soviet Union would not and could not do. The significance of this sensitivity, flexibility and willingness by the Chinese Communist Party can’t be overstated.

In my view, the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and this rapidly growing number of millions with wealth in China, in particular, will develop such that not only may Engels be proven correct in his prognostication that the development of China will motivate the advance of Europe and the United States (and hence the rest of the West) to socialism, but this process in China will also generate economic, political and social forms of organisation that will be models for the world.

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The deputy sheriff – pride in servility, racist and myopic

The_Mongolian_octopus

The Mongolian Octopus: his grip on Australia 1886

Bob Carr, ‘Loose lips on China have cost Australia dearly’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24.05.18

‘…Australia’s flamboyant rhetorical shift against China predated Malcolm Turnbull’s introduction of anti-foreign influence legislation last December. Earlier in 2017, Julie Bishop, in a speech in Singapore, disputed China’s right to leadership because it was not a democracy. Tom Switzer noted in The Sydney Morning Herald this was the first time since Billy McMahon that we were elevating differences over China’s system of government as an issue in the bilateral relationship. Up till then under Coalition and Labor governments we’d set them to one side.

In June last year, the Prime Minister was calling for a bigger US military commitment in our region. It was Australia saying it wants a military build-up in Asia; effectively, to contain China. Hugh White identified this as going further than that of any other US ally, including Japan. And the US ignored it anyway.

Defending Chinese students in Australia from the baseless claims that they were promoting Communist Party policy on our campuses would have been an ideal opportunity for one of our leaders to have toned down the anti-China panic that took off in mid-2017 and introduce some nuance.

When the Prime Minister introduced his foreign interference legislation on December 7, he could have stuck to the departmental script and said it was aimed at no country in particular but simply protected Australian sovereignty. Instead, he parodied a line of Chairman Mao’s delivered in 1949 and rendered it as, “the Australian people stand up”.

What should have been a cool-headed speech became an entirely unnecessary taunting of a country which we have a valuable relationship.

No other US ally – not Japan or any of the Europeans – has thought it necessary to abandon diplomatic practice in the conduct of its China relationship. Nor have US partners like India or Singapore.

Early this year, the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister seemed to be trying to rein things in. Then there was a new stridency let loose by colleagues. Then deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said of China, “any state that has the capacity to overrun you is always a greater threat”. A junior minister, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, took aim at China’s aid program in the Pacific. Differences on aid could easily have been listed as a matter for dialogue not a public skirmish.

You can’t say to the Chinese “Oh, that’s only Barnaby” or “Fierravanti-Wells is only a junior minister”. It’s easy to imagine the nationalist outrage if senior Chinese leaders had directed such rhetoric at Australia. We wouldn’t accept comparable insults from any international partner. In foreign relations words are bullets. …

Bob Carr is director of the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney, a former NSW premier and former foreign affairs minister. His memoir, Run for Your Life, will be published next month.’

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The country impatient for its future and the fearful lucky country

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Ross Gittins, ‘China thinks big, while Australia waits for luck to strike’The Sydney Morning Herald, 03.08.16

Sorry if I sound wide-eyed, but I was mightily impressed when I visited China as a guest of the Australia-China Relations Institute. Obviously, we were directed to the best rather than the worst but, even allowing for that, it was still impressive. Those guys are going places.

In a hurry. I was struck by how fast-moving the place is – in several senses. We argue interminably about getting a high-speed rail link, while the Chinese just get on with it.

We took the bullet train from Beijing to its nearest port, Tianjin, 140 kilometres away. So smooth you didn’t really notice how fast it was going.

The government-run China Daily announced while we were there the plan to have 30,000 kilometres of high-speed track built by 2020. You could be sceptical – except they already have 19,000 kilometres installed. …

Of course, we tell ourselves, any technology they use has come from foreigners, sometimes without proper recompense.

Don’t be so sure. We visited Shenzhen which, until 36 years ago, was a fishing village just across the water from Hong Kong, before someone made it a special economic zone. …

Today it’s a city of 10 million, with income per person of about $29,000 a year. It has maintained 45 per cent of its area as parks and forest by the simple expedient of having housing go up rather than out. …

China is big; we think of ourselves as small. China is confident, impatiently pushing towards a better future; we are fearful, waiting for more luck to turn up.

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Donald Horne, The Lucky Country – Australia in the  Sixties, Angus and Robertson, 1965 (first published in 1964)

14 ‘Australians love a “battler”, an underdog who is fighting the top dog, although their veneration for him is likely to pass if he comes out from under. At work – among the unambitious – the feeling for underdogs runs very strong.’

18 ‘Australians like people to be ordinary…To be different is considered an affectation.’

18-19 Horne believes that Australians embody ‘a complex of resentments against difference…It is only when a difference stares them in the face that ordinary Australians become truculent; and then only in a personal way.’

26-27 ‘This cynicism beneath purpose feeds our notorious philistinism…This deeply inlaid scepticism is a genuine philosophy of life, a national style determining individual and group actions. Its influence can be detected throughout Australian society. It may be the most pervasive single influence operating on Australians.’

27 ‘What (Australians) find it difficult to do is to imagine the new for themselves.’

32 ‘The passion for egalitarianism may combine with the passion for scepticism to hide and often frustrate talent.’

32 ‘Much energy is wasted in pretending to be stupid. To appear ordinary, just like everybody else, is sometimes a necessary condition for success in Australia.’

56 Horne paraphrased the diary entry of Mrs. Marcel Dekyvere, chairperson of the Black and White Ball Committee (in 1964) in response to a sermon titled “I Have a Dream” ’ – ‘We must all keep our dreams, even if sometimes they don’t come true. Don’t you agree?’ (Martin Luther King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on 28.08.1963)

76 ‘On 27 December 1941, John Curtin made the single most significant statement ever made by an Australian Prime Minister: “Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America”.’

83 Australians are suspicious of all idealism: ‘ “What’s in it for him?” ’

88 ‘In the past Australia has also displayed the other side of provincialism: the boastfulness and arrogance of the liberated province, parading its very provincialism as if it were homegrown.’

101 ‘Despite its internal democracy, Australia plays an aristocratic role in the society of Asia – rich, self-centred, frivolous, blind’

107 The words ‘White Australia Policy’ were removed from the Labor Party platform in 1965.

112 ‘if Australia is to play a more forceful role in Asia the change must be dramatic enough to impress Asians that it is a change. It would seem a comparatively simple method to enter into migration agreements with Asian countries that might meet any of their own fears and that would set up clear public standards of assimilability – of language, education and working capacity…My own view is that the future holds dramatic possibilities for Australia which may necessarily include racial change, that this is Australia’s ‘destiny’. It is going to happen one way or the other. It is a task that will be undertaken either by Australians, or by someone else.’

121 ‘Not that Australia has ever spent much on research and development anyway…This indifference to research and development goes beyond the question of foreign ownership.’

The Big Merino, Goulburn

The Big Merino, Goulburn

130 ‘Several generations of Australians were taught to venerate not lions or eagles or other aggressive symbols of nationalism; they were taught to venerate sheep.’

136 ‘the things modern Australians are really interested in – getting homes, raising their children, going on holidays.’

190 Against the justification that ‘we are only a small nation’:

Horne, quoting Irving Kristol’s review of the first edition of The Lucky Country, emphasised the importance of leadership that could enable a people to create ‘better than they know’ and of appreciating their creation, without which that people would not only be far poorer in their self-definition but would be blissfully unaware of their poverty. Leadership enables the discernment of a promise and a potentiality that becomes integral to their way of life.

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A capitalist journalist on China

Chinese_President_Xi_Jinping

‘Why the Chinese are cheerful about the future’, Peter Hartcher, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26.02.18

In survey after survey, China’s people are full of bounce. In comparisons with the people of other countries, the Chinese show an optimism and a confidence that puts them among the most positive on the planet.

Chinese consumers are brimful of confidence, outdone by only those in India, Indonesia and Iceland. China’s people are the most optimistic in the world that they will have better living conditions in the future.

And among the world’s young people, it’s the Chinese and the Indians who feel most positive that the world is becoming a better place. One reason is that their economies are booming, But they also have great faith in the power of technology to do good.

And, surprisingly perhaps in a dictatorship, Chinese have confidence in their government. This is not just a piece of Communist Party propaganda. It’s a consistent result from surveys by credible international organisations.

A survey of people in 34 countries by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre five years ago found that 66 per cent of Chinese citizens expressed “confidence” in their government. That was the fifth highest in the world, almost double the level in America and equal to that in Norway. Interestingly, Indonesia also had a very high rating on this measure.

And in the annual Edelman Trust Barometer published last month measuring sentiment internationally, a whopping 84 per cent of respondents in China said that they had “trust” in government. That was an increase of 8 percentage points over the course of a year. And it was the highest among the 28 countries surveyed.

Should we be suspicious of polls conducted in a one-party state where criticism of the national leaders is rigorously censored and where dissidents are arrested? Yes, we should be.

And yet there are clues that it’s probably broadly true that the Chinese have high trust in government. One reason is that, again, India and Indonesia, democracies both, show similarly high levels. There seems to be a correlation of broad confidence among the three big, thrusting, emerging countries, all headed by leaders with a sense of purpose and a rockstar aura.

And another is the consistency of findings across different areas of Chinese life, measured by different outfits. The country is on the rise, its ordinary people are better off than they’ve been in centuries, and their government is waging a vigorous campaign against the problem that Chinese have long nominated as their biggest concern – corruption.

As the BBC’s Beijing correspondent Stephen McDonell commented a year and a half ago: “Elsewhere there is fear and uncertainty. Here optimism trumps all.”

And if the people’s trust is earned, above all else, by sheer results, then the Chinese people’s trust in government is no surprise. A new World Bank report, which went online without fanfare a few days ago, sets out some remarkable results. Here are just three.

The world has a rough grasp of the fact that China has made great inroads on its poverty problem. But the World Bank report makes an extraordinary finding. Using the international poverty line adopted in 2011 of income of $US1.90 ($2.40) a person a day, adjusted for a country’s cost of living, it says: “The share of the population living in poverty fell from 88.3 per cent in 1981 to 66.6 per cent in 1990 and 1.9 per cent in 2013.”

The number of people lifted out of poverty in that span? A total of 850 million. That’s two-and-a-half times the population of the US.

It’s the equivalent of the entire number of humans on the planet until the 19th century. The World Bank observes that of all the people in the world who managed to escape poverty in the last four decades, seven of every 10 were Chinese. It describes the scale and speed of this achievement as “unprecedented in scope and scale”. Undeniably.

China has about 25 million citizens still living under the poverty line, and the bank predicts that it will make further progress.

China’s breakneck economic growth made this transformation possible, but while it was necessary it was not sufficient. Many countries in history have managed bursts of rapid growth; very few have lifted such a broad swath of its people out of poverty. Because it’s not just how much money a country makes but how it’s used to the benefit of its people that’s crucial.

And this is point two. China has leapfrogged other wealthier countries in offering a social safety net to its people. “Since the 1990s, China has introduced an array of social protection programs at a speed that is unprecedented internationally,” the World Bank remarks.

Among its reforms are pension and health insurance programs, unemployment benefits, sickness and workplace injury assistance, and maternity insurance for women working in formal job sectors in the cities.

Weaving such a broad safety net so quickly “is a feat that took decades to achieve in OECD countries, and one that many middle-income countries have not realised” the bank observes. Health and education services have been much improved.

China still has shocking inequality and rural areas suffer most. But while it was worsening for decades and became as severe as US experience, the inequality gap has started gradually to close since 2008, according to the World Bank.

Point three helps explain how China managed to deliver so much growth with such broad benefit so quickly. The World Bank assesses China’s institutions as well-functioning. Interestingly, it finds that Communist Party political loyalties among officialdom has not corroded the effectiveness of its institutions.

It says that the party has shaped the “core of a high-performing bureaucracy by integrating features of party loyalty with professionalisation of the civil service in a unique way”. It has “provided incentives through promotion and rewards to bureaucrats and local officials in return for their attainment of growth and job creation targets”.

And instead of finding a deadening political oppressiveness in government departments, the World Bank reports that “the cadre management system and the broader political systems in China have facilitated vigorous contest ability of policy ideas, which promoted policy effectiveness”. The success and durability of the one-party state point to China as a standing challenge to democratic countries.

The World Bank report, with the delightfully evocative title Systematic Country Diagnostic, is not, however, a portrait of a socialist Utopia. The bank finds huge problems. Environmental collapse beckons. Pollution is “an all-encompassing challenge” and climate change is wreaking havoc. Similarly, the levels of debt in the economy pose the danger of acute financial crisis. And the ageing of the population, set to accelerate, will pose new problems of national solvency.

But China’s successes and its people’s surging confidence help explain why President Xi Jinping feels that he can now do what no Chinese leader since Mao has done, something even the autocratic Vladimir Putin has not attempted – rewrite the constitution to make himself emperor for life, as Hong Kong University’s Willy Lam has described it.

There is confidence. And then there is hubris.

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The Mueller indictment and its parroting in Australia

By Patrick Martin Source: WSWS.org The announcement Friday by the US Department of Justice that a federal grand jury has returned criminal indictments against 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies, charging illegal activities in the 2016 US presidential election, has become the occasion for a barrage of war propaganda in the American corporate media. […]

via The media and the Mueller indictment: A conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories — Desultory Heroics

Again, I highly recommend both the article and video. What is taking place in the US (re- the charge of Russian interference in the US democratic process – that it should even be contemplated should be used in first year psychology as a first-rate example of doublethink) is once again being parroted in Australia by the capitalist class via their political and media lackeys in their less noisy charging of Chinese interference in the democratic process of this country – less noisy because of the dependence of the Ozzie economy and ‘laid-back’ lifestyle on Chinese cash, without which Australia would have been mere bubbles on the surface of the briny after the GFC.

The Ozzies have got to be careful (toadying to their masters while not upsetting the Chinese too much) but you can see the emerging structure – the ‘free world’ once again defending itself from those sly, manipulative communists (the Russians will never be forgiven for having had the first socialist revolution) – as China rises to global domination and the US (capitalist class) inevitably loses the position Trump was put into the presidency to maintain.

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The US capitalist class fuels ‘tension and mistrust’ by weaponising their island

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The Sydney Morning Herald 15.12.16 ‘(Minister for Foreign Affairs) Julie Bishop accuses China of fuelling ‘tension and mistrust’ by weaponising artificial islands

But hang on Julie – this is exactly what the US capitalist class has been increasingly doing with Australia. They don’t even have to put a carrier battle group here – Australia will be their ‘stationary aircraft carrier‘ for their ‘feared and revered’ F-22s (not to mention the B-1s – but that’s a bit later).

And what do the Australian people think about the agents of US capital once again threatening China from their soil? Do they feel anything other than their standard pride at being treated so contemptuously?

B-1B bomber

B-1B bomber

US to fly F-22 Raptors in and out of Australia amid South China Sea tensions

‘The US will begin flying its deadliest fighter plane, the F-22 Raptor, out of northern Australia next year, the most senior American commander in the Pacific has revealed as he warned of a need to show strength to deter aggression in the region.

During a visit to Sydney on Wednesday, the commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, vowed the US would remain a major player in the region, saying its “enduring interests” would not “change on January 20th” – referring to the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration as President.

Admiral Harris revealed that he had signed a 2017 agreement for Australia to host US military assets including the Raptors, which are feared and revered as the best fighter planes in the world, and will send a strong signal about US military presence in the region.

“I think that’s positive,” Admiral Harris told the Lowy Institute event.

The greater presence of US air power out of Australia follows on from the rotation of US marines as a way to bolster the alliance and the American footprint at the southern edge of Asia – akin to a stationary aircraft carrier. (my italics)…’

The US capitalist class has only started to lean on the Australians regarding their military plans and requirements. And the Australians only continue to fold.

Further, as another example of the utter hypocrisy of the US capitalist class, the weaponised islands of the US state of Hawaii are situated 3977 km or 2471 miles from California.

US naval base, Pearl Harbour, Hawaii

US naval base, Pearl Harbour, Hawaii

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Images: middle/bottom (I highly recommend clicking on this link and reading the text below this image)

What it means to be Australian

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Peter Martin, ’China’s gifts, research, “special bonds” and Sam Dastyari’s ghost from his past,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 08.09.16

Sam Dastyari had been in the Senate mere months when a ghost from his past came back to haunt him. He was sued by a marketing company over work it said he had commissioned and then abandoned while general secretary of the NSW Labor Party.

He settled the case for around $5000, but rather than pay it himself or get the Labor Party to help, he sent the bill to the Yuhu Group, reporting its support in the register of senators’ interests.

The Shenzhen Yuhu investment development group was founded by Huang Xiangmo, a Chinese-Australian billionaire to whom $5000 was literally small change.

A few months earlier he had given $1.8 million to the University of Technology in Sydney to help establish an Australia-China Relations Institute, which supplanted an existing China Research Centre whose publications had at times been critical of China.

It emails journalists offering all expenses paid trips to China (“flights, accommodation, meals and internal transport”) and, in an unusual approach for a university body, describes itself as taking a “positive and optimistic view” of the Australia-China relationship.

Click the “research” button on its website and you won’t see research, but “fact sheets” urging Australia to approve the Australia-China free trade agreement, not to run freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea and not to block the takeover bid for an electricity network.

Huang chairs the Institute himself, or so he says, in another departure from normal practice. He says he personally chose Australia’s former foreign minister Bob Carr to run it.

John Fitzgerald, a China specialist who directs philanthropy studies at Swinburne University, says it is the clearest departure from accepted university practice he has seen. Other research centres, such as those part-funded by the United States, critically examine what’s happening in the US. Another academic familiar with the Institute who teaches in China says there is more questioning of the Chinese regime among his own Chinese students than there is at the University of Technology, which seems to be the way Huang wants it. A prodigious donor to both sides of Australian politics, he wrote in a Chinese newspaper last week that donors needed to learn how to have, “a more efficient combination between political requests and political donations, and how to use the media to push our political requests”.

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Huang sees donations as transactional. But the transactions aren’t always in Australia. In China, where some of his associates have been under a cloud, giving money to Australian universities and politicians is seen as a way to do the right thing by Chinese officials. China has set up “Confucius Institutes” at 10 Australian universities including the University of Melbourne with the aim of promoting “Chinese language and culture in a friendly, accessible and educational way”. They are also in high schools, 35 of them according to the former education minister Christopher Pyne.

To the Chinese Communist Party they are “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up”. To Australian schools desperate for funds, they are a way to get teaching resources cheaply.

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The Communist Party itself has ultimate control over their curriculum, budget and hiring and training of staff, according to a Parliamentary Library research note, creating “extra-territoriality” within Australian universities and schools.

In Canada the Association of University Teachers has urged universities to sever their ties with Confucius Institutes. In the US, the Association of University Professors has issued a report suggesting their governance arrangements are “inconsistent with principles of academic freedom”, and at Chicago University the university senate has voted against renewing the institute’s contract after receiving a petition from 100 staff complaining that an outside entity was “in effect seriously influencing who’s teaching and what’s taught under our name”.

But here we don’t seem to care as much, perhaps because, like Sam Dastyari, we believe we can take money without being expected to give anything back in return. That isn’t how it’s seen in China, that’s not how it’s seen by donors such as Huang, and it’s not what the research shows. Yes: there is economic research into our response to gifts.

Oddly, and disturbingly for recipients such as Dastyari, it finds that small gifts can pack a biggerscreen-shot-2016-09-08-at-1-25-45-pm punch than big ones. For their study entitled You Owe Me, Ulrike Malmendier and Klaus Schmidt allowed bidders to give gifts to students deciding which firms to award contracts to in a laboratory experiment. The games weren’t repeated, so there was no chance of ever encountering the gift-givers again. Yet the small gifts won them over, even when what the bidders were offering was a worse service. As the size of the gift grew the effect faded.

They explain their findings by saying gifts “create a special bond between the gift giver and the receiver”. The more obvious the attempt, the more our guard goes up. It’s why doctors surgeries are filled with branded pens and free samples rather than wads of cash.

But there’s a caveat. Experienced China watchers say the gift needs to be just big enough to create a slight feeling of unease. Once the recipient feels they might have transgressed, they’re hooked for next time.

* Fairfax Media (the publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and of this article) has joined visits to China organised and paid for by the Australia-China Relations Institute

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The sort of speaking that resulted in so much political heat for Dastyari:

Gareth Hutchens, ’Labor senator Sam Dastyari claims 10 companies have taken control of Australian politicsBendigo Advertiser, 08.09.16

What a US peppercorn buys in Australia:

At a ceremony in 1967 the US ambassador to Australia Ed Clark laughingly paid the Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt a peppercorn for a year’s rent on their spy base at North West Cape in Western Australia. The lease did not allow Australia any degree of control over the station.

“Rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows (and an octopus) – but this has nothing to do with racism”

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Peter Hartcher, ‘The Chinese interests power struggle is about sovereignty,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 06.09.16

In the Hong Kong election on Sunday, the main clash was between people who prize local liberties and those who want Beijing to have more power.

This same divide was on stark display in Australia last week.

A pro-Beijing group planned a concert series in Sydney and Melbourne to celebrate the life of the former Chinese dictator Mao Zedong.

But the concerts were cancelled in the face of protests planned by a group of Chinese Australians who are opposed to the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to influence Australia.

Australia stands at a threshold moment: how much power are we prepared to allow the Chinese party-state?

This has nothing to do with racism. The rift in the Chinese community in Australia demonstrates that it has everything to do with sovereignty – who controls Australia’s destiny?

In reporting the clash over the Mao concerts, Fairfax Media’s Philip Wen wrote: “The schism is broadly between two camps: those who migrated in the 1980s and 1990s with the spectre of the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989 fresh in their memories, and more recent emigres who have been enriched by China’s economic development and are emboldened by their country’s rise as a major international power.”

The spokesman for the anti-concert group, John Hu of the Embrace Australian Values Alliance, said: “As Australian-Chinese, we see this trend happening as Chinese-language media in Australia become largely influenced by Chinese government with all sorts of commercial linkages; pro-China groups emerge in Sydney and Melbourne; the incoming of Confucius Institutes in our universities which have spread to high school and primary schools in the name of teaching Chinese.

“We are not here to be against certain groups, we are here to protect our Australian values. We choose to live in this country so we need to protect our home.” Which values does he mean, specifically? Freedom, democracy, equality and tolerance, Hu says.

And the pro-Beijing group? “We are artists, we just want to put on a good display of song and dance,” said Christina Wang of International Cultural Exchange Association. She denied any links with the Chinese government.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, declared in 2013 that he wanted to create a “Community of Shared Destiny” in the Asia-Pacific. Australia is one of the countries to be included in that community. But while other countries are supposed to be enfolded in the “community”, which ones do you think Xi would like to be authors of the “shared destiny”?

The destiny, of course, is to be written in Beijing. Not in Bangkok or Brunei, and certainly not in Tokyo or Seoul or Singapore or Jakarta or Hanoi or Manila or Wellington. Or in Canberra.

Xi has called on patriotic “sons and daughters” of China everywhere to serve the motherland regardless of where they live in the world, or which country’s passport they carry.

This is called “United Front work” within the Chinese Communist party. The party actually has a United Front Work Department to conduct this policy.

Australia has been pretty naive in the way it sees China. But ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong and now in Australia can see the risk of Chinese Communist Party intervention very clearly.

“What’s brilliant about the Chinese government’s interest strategy is that it exploits the freedoms of Western democracies against Western democracies,” an expert on Chinese politics at Claremont McKenna College in California, Minxin Pei, told the New York Times recently.

It’s time for Australia’s mainstream to wake up, and Senator Sam Dastyari last week provided a clear illustration of the risk. “It is a priceless lesson in the vulnerability of Australian democracy to foreign influence in a contested Asia,” the head of the National Security College at ANU, Rory Medcalf, wrote of Dastyari.

He, like Labor and the Greens, is calling for a ban on foreign donations to Australian political parties: “It is hard to believe six-figure donations from corporates linked to the Chinese Communist Party are gestures of admiration for our electoral system.”

Chairman Mao famously launched a hygiene drive in 1958 called the “Four Pests Campaign”. Citizens were urged to eradicate rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows.

Australia needs to wage a campaign of vigilance against foreign manipulation of its democracy. In terms that Mao would have understood, perhaps a “Four Pests Campaign” of our own is required to defend against agents of foreign influence.

Rats. We need to be alert to politicians compromised by China’s embrace. Dastyari is a case study. There will be more to come.

Flies. Perhaps unwitting paid-mouthpieces for the interests of the Chinese regime. Bob Carr is the head of the pro-China outfit called the Australian Chinese Relations Institute, set up with a $1.8 million donation from a businessman with links to the Communist Party.

Labor does not have a monopoly – the former Liberal foreign affairs minister, Alexander Downer, was appointed a director of the controversial Chinese telecoms firm Huawei. He was a staunch advocate, even after the Australian government banned the Communist Party-linked Huawei from the NBN as a national security risk.

Mosquitoes. Business people so captivated by their financial interests that they demand Australia assume the kowtow position. For instance, Kerry Stokes wanted Australia to set tax policy and defence policy according to China’s interests. The presence of US troops in Australia made him “‘physically repulsed”. He said: “Blogs in China went crazy.” Yes. So what?

James Packer offered this coaching: “We, as a country, have to try harder to let China know how grateful we are for their business.”

Sparrows. Front organisations, apparently innocuous friendship societies or NGOs, set up specifically to spread Beijing’s influence. The Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China is a central one – “the common link between major Chinese donors to politicians and parties in Australia” as The Australian’s Beijing correspondent, Rowan Callick, summarises.

There are others. On university campuses, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association is devoted to “enhancing patriotism” – and they don’t mean Australian patriotism – by shutting down anyone sceptical of the Chinese Communist Party and its policies.

Pests. Who needs them?

The Mongolian Octopus: his grip on Australia 1886

The Mongolian Octopus: his grip on Australia 1886

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The use of Australians and their country to the US capitalist class

'David C Gompert says US and Australian forces know how to work together – an advantage in a war.' Excuse me. Could you repeat the end of that?

‘David C Gompert says US and Australian forces know how to work together – an advantage in a war.’ Excuse me. Could you repeat the end of that?

ABC The World Today 15.08.16, “Australia would play ‘consequential’ role in US-China war: intelligence advisor”

ELEANOR HALL: But first today, a former chief intelligence advisor to Barack Obama has predicted that Australia could play a very “consequential” role in any war between the United States and China.

Tensions between the world’s two major military powers have been building for months over Beijing’s rapid expansion in the South China Sea.

Some analysts are predicting they could soon boil over into outright conflict.

Here’s our defence reporter Andrew Greene.

ANDREW GREENE: The prospect of a military showdown between Beijing and Washington is so far only academic, but increasingly military analysts are talking about what such a war could look like.

China’s military expansion in the South China Sea is closely watched in America where a comprehensive US Army commissioned report has just asked the question of whether tensions could soon erupt.

DAVID GOMPERT: There is a potential that it could be very intense and very destructive but not necessarily brief. It could drag on with neither side being able to win a decisive military victory.

ANDREW GREENE: The report’s lead author is David Gompert, who was at one stage the Acting Director of National Intelligence in Barack Obama’s administration with oversight of the US intelligence community.

His recently published report, War with China: Thinking through the Unthinkable, also looks at the possible role Australia might play.

EXCERPT FROM ‘WAR WITH CHINA’: Depending on the cause and locus of the conflict, other East Asian states would mostly side with the United States in varying degrees, support ranging from permission to use bases to the possible commitment of forces (for example, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines), to cautious support for the United States among countries with strong ties to China.

ANDREW GREENE: The report adds:

EXCERPT FROM ‘WAR WITH CHINA’: The participation of Australian forces, because of their quality, could have military significance despite their small size.

Apart from military contributions, the longer and more severe the conflict, the more and perhaps more permanently China could become isolated from the very region it aspires to lead.

ANDREW GREENE: David Gompert has told The World Today as a long standing American ally, Australia’s role could be a pivotal one.

DAVID GOMPERT: Australians would know better than I what Australia might do but I would say that what Australia would do could be very consequential.

ANDREW GREENE: He says an Australian contribution could take several different forms.

DAVID GOMPERT: For Australia to support the United States in logistical ways, for Australian forces to take on missions that American forces had been fulfilling, freeing up American forces for the conflict, for Australian forces to actually enter operations and of course American and Australian forces do know how to operate together – that would produce significant operational complications for the Chinese.

ANDREW GREENE: Last week satellite photos emerged revealing that Beijing has begun constructing reinforced hangars on several artificial South China Sea outposts.

On Saturday the South China Morning Post cited a Chinese administration source saying the country could begin construction work on the disputed Scarborough Shoal before the US presidential election in November.

So what are the prospects of an imminent war to Australia’s north?

The former US intelligence chief David Gompert says at this stage it’s still only a remote possibility, but a military misunderstanding is much more likely.

DAVID GOMPERT: Two units, let’s say, end up firing on one another and that triggers a larger conflict – that is not implausible; it’s not unthinkable.

The other possibility which is explored is that during a crisis one could experience what in traditional strategic theory is called “crisis instability” in which case each side begins to worry that the other side might be considering military action.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s David Gompert, a former intelligence advisor to US President Barack Obama, ending that report from our defence correspondent Andrew Greene.

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Two points:

  • The US ‘Administration’ once again uses Australians/Australia to threaten China and the Australian national broadcaster is only too happy to be used (Obama delivered a cloaked threat regarding the South China Sea in his speech in the national parliament house when he was here)
  • How many Australians face up to what the US ‘Administration’ thinks of them?

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