All posts by James O'Neill

Morrison’s Dangerous Fantasies Represent a Danger to Australia’s Future

Australia has just caused surprise among its friends, concern among its neighbours, and an overtly hostile reaction from the Chinese with its announcement that it was scrapping the submarine deal it had signed with France and replacing it with a scheme, cooked together with British and American allies, to buy 8 nuclear powered submarines.

The scheme as announced was extraordinarily short on details. There is apparently at least 18 months of negotiating ahead before the contract is even signed. After that there will be a lengthy delay, estimated being at least 10 years in length, before the first submarine is ever delivered. By that time, who knows what the state of the world’s geopolitical system will be. One can be assured that the Chinese, against whom the plan is obviously directed, will have taken multiple steps to ensure its own safety.

The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was not short of hyperbole in announcing the deal. He described the relationship with the United States as the “forever partnership”. As the old joke goes, there are only two forever’s, death and taxes. Morrison’s words are reflective of an unfortunate tendency among Australian politicians. They are inclined not to look at the map when making grand geopolitical statements.

Australia is a thinly populated European nation that sits at the southern end of the Asian landmass. In keeping with its geography, the bulk of Australian foreign trade is conducted with those same Asian neighbours. Ironically, China is by far Australia’s largest trading partner, followed by Japan.

The British are yesterday’s men when it comes to Asia having finally been forced to give up its holding in Hong Kong that they took by force from China in the 19th century. The United States likes to project itself is an important figure in the Asian scheme of things. As the recent debacle in Afghanistan showed, however, American influence in the region is marked by one rebuttal after another.

With the possible exception of Japan, United States influence in the region is rapidly fading, notwithstanding its provocative sailings in the South China Sea and its overt support for the island of Taiwan. It is conveniently forgotten by Western commentators that from 1949 to 1972 the island of Taiwan held China’s seat on the United Nations Security Council. There was no suggestion then that Taiwan was a separate country. It could hardly have claimed to be, yet retaining China’s seat on the Security Council.

Now, Taiwan is making noises about becoming an independent country, something that the Beijing government has declared to be totally unacceptable, and which they will prevent by the use of force if necessary. It would be very unwise for the West to ignore the determination of the People’s Republic of China to recapture its rebellious neighbour. It would be equally unwise for the Americans to underestimate the Chinese level of determination and attempt to defend Taiwan from returning to the control of the mainland.

It is into this fraught situation that the Australian government is being inexorably drawn by its latest agreement with the Americans. Although the Australian media are almost completely silent on the point, one of the consequences of this new agreement with the Americans will be an increase in the number of United States military holdings in Australia. They already control the operation of the spy base at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory. It was former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam‘s intention to close the base that led to the coup against his government in November 1975.

The United States has operated a baleful influence upon Australian foreign policy ever since. There is absolutely nothing in the latest announcement of Australia buying United States designed nuclear powered ships that will do a single thing to reduce that influence. Quite the contrary.

The current posturing by the Australian Prime Minister will do nothing to alter that reality. Together with his defence minister, Peter Dutton, who has been a failure at each of his previous ministerial postings, they are both talking loudly about the wonderful future of Australia. They are either too vain or too stupid to see that this latest deal does more than any other single decision in recent years to entrap Australia in a subservient role to the United States.

As Scott Ritter writes in RT: “This is a story of geopolitically driven military procurement gone mad”,1, pointing out that this deal “further exacerbates the existing geopolitical crisis with China by injecting a military dimension that will never see the light of day.”

Ritter goes on to seek answers to problems he sees as being associated with the announced purchase; for instance, first of all, how much will it cost?  Secondly, how will Australia operate advanced nuclear power systems when it has no indigenous nuclear experience to draw upon? And how does Australia plan to man a large nuclear submarine when it can barely field four crews for its existing Collins class fleet.

These are legitimate questions to ask, yet the timid Opposition Labor Party seems paralysed by them.

As Alan Gyngell points out2, the United States’ expectations of Australia’s support in almost anything going, whether it involves China or not (although that is the greatest danger) will grow. It represents an application of responsibility to ensure the ongoing welfare of the Australian people. By the time the submarines are delivered, if at all, the present generation of political leaders will be long gone. The damage they are doing will last a lot longer.

  1. US-UK-Australia Submarine Deal is a Dangerous Joke, 18 September 2021.
  2. Australia Signs up for the Anglosphere“, September 19, 2021.
The post Morrison’s Dangerous Fantasies Represent a Danger to Australia’s Future first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Australia Faces the Painful Reality of a Changing Geopolitical Landscape

Relations between Australia and China have sunk to the lowest point since diplomatic recognition was accorded to the People’s Republic of China as one of the first acts of the new Australian government in November 1972. This action caused great consternation in the opposition Liberal party, who were completely unaware of similar moves by then United States government of Richard Nixon to recognise the PRC.

Relations between the PRC and Australia deteriorated sharply in 2018 when the foreign minister openly questioned China as the source of the pandemic then beginning to grip the world. In speaking out as she did, Marise Payne was undoubtedly acting as a mouthpiece for the American administration of Donald Trump. The motives for her speaking out did not interest the Chinese who reacted by beginning a progressive freezing of Australian imports.

The economic warfare was no small thing. China is Australia’s largest trading partner by a significant margin. In 2018 it took more than 40% of all Australia’s exports, nearly double that of Australia’s next largest trading partner, Japan. Replacing the Chinese market will not be easy, there’s no other country that has anywhere near China’s manufacturing capacity.

It was not just Australian imports that China targeted. The government made no secret of its desire that Chinese students should seek somewhere else for their tertiary education. This has had a huge impact on Australia’s university sector, as China has provided the largest number of foreign students by a substantial margin.

Relationships were also not enhanced by the Australian government imposing major restrictions on Chinese investment in the country. Its unilateral banning of Huawei was well publicised, but it was only one of a number of restrictions placed on investment proposals in Australia by Chinese companies. Again, this was no small measure. China in 2018 was the third largest source of foreign investment in Australia, and the loss of Chinese money is having a significant effect.

The reaction of the Australian government to these restrictions has been one of hurt surprise. The foreign and trade ministers have publicly complained that they have been unable to get their telephone calls to China answered or returned. That this should come as any sort of surprise is a measure of the government’s naivete.

It is not just in trade that the Australian government goes out of its way to offend China. Australia has long been little more than a lackie for United States foreign policy with an ever eagerness to join the United States’ wars of aggression wherever they occur in the world. The involvement in Afghanistan, only recently abandoned with little notice or consideration to its Afghan allies followed a nearly 20-year involvement in pursuing United States imperial ambitions.

Australia still has troops involved in Iraq, which is a country of even less geopolitical importance to Australia then Afghanistan. A demand by the Iraqi government 18 months ago that they should leave was simply ignored, once Australia had determined that the United States was similarly going to ignore Iraqi demands. The local media shows a remarkable lack of interest in reporting on Australia’s involvement in that blatantly illegal war.

Australia’s latest act of folly with the Chinese was to join yet another United States misadventure by signing up to the so called “quad” of four nations.  Along with the United States, Japan and India, that constitutes what is a blatantly anti-China political exercise. The folly was matched by the involvement of Australia’s Navy in an exercise practising the blockading of the Straits of Hormuz. This narrow waterway hosts 80% of China’s seaborne exports. It was correctly perceived by the Chinese as an unfriendly act. It signalled Australia’s willingness to become involved in a United States led war against China.

To describe all of these hostile actions by the Australian government against China as mindless is an understatement. It would be extremely difficult to find any other country in the world that follows a policy designed to ignore its most important trading partner’s sensitivities and wishes. Yet that is what the Australian government is doing.

One of the surprising features of the mindless and self-defeating policy is that there is almost no local reaction against it. The opposition Labor Party has maintained a deathly silence against the government’s perilous policies. To understand the likely reasons for this one has to look at Australia’s history.

The 1972–75 Labor government of Gough Whitlam greatly annoyed the United States by pulling his troops out of the Vietnam war, another foolhardy exercise on behalf of its American masters. It earned the enmity of Australia’s governor general John Kerr, a long-term American asset who also acted against his government’s interests in secret communications with Buckingham Palace. Those are only now being revealed after a lengthy legal fight.

The Whitlam government fought for its three years in power against this internal fifth column, being defeated after only one term in office. That loss had a salutary effect upon the Labor Party which has been careful not to annoy the United States ever since. It has just been revealed that a later Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke was in constant and secret communication with the Americans during his term in office.

That tradition continues with the present Labor Opposition almost completely silent on the misadventures in the South China Sea, and indeed on Australia’s progressive destruction of the once close and beneficial Chinese trade. Relationships with China are unlikely to improve as long as Australia maintains its adherence to the United States alliance.

The geopolitical world has changed in the past two decades and with it the once dominant role of the United States in influencing Asian affairs. Australia shows no sign of recognising that shift in the world geopolitical structure, much less changing its policies to accommodate the reality of these changes in literally its own backyard.

There will be further painful costs to be met before the pain eventually forces an overdue recognition of Australia’s real vital interests.

The post Australia Faces the Painful Reality of a Changing Geopolitical Landscape first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The United States-Led Propaganda Attack on China Will Prove to Have a Limited Shelf Life

A story much favoured in western media has been about China’s alleged genocide of its Uyghur population. The origins of the story are unclear, although it has often been attributed to the work of the Newton Institute for Strategic Policy and to a German propagandist who works for a markedly anti-Chinese organisation based in the United States.

The Uyghurs are based in the Xinjiang autonomous region, a large and strategically located region of China’s Northwest. The statistics provide absolutely no support for the propaganda. The Uyghurs constitute approximately 90% of the region’s population.

The report claimed that President Xi has launched a campaign against the Muslim Uyghurs. Apart from allegations that the men were to be rounded up, the women were alleged to be forcibly sterilised. The intent of the alleged policy was to eliminate the viability of the Muslim Uyghur population.

The official statistics, however, provide absolutely no support for the lurid claims. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying, was quoted as saying that over the past 40 years the population of the Uyghurs had increased from 5,500,000 to 12,800,000 and the average life expectancy had increased from 30 to 72 years.

In the period from 2010-2018, the Uyghur population of Xinjiang increased from 10,170,000 to 12,720,000, which is an increase of 25.04%. This was the highest growth rate of any region of China. The Han population, which represents China’s dominant Group, rose by only 2% over the same period.

Neither is the area disadvantaged. From 2014 to 2019 average economic growth rose at a rate of 7.2% per annum. The Chinese government has invested approximately 2.35 trillion yuan into Xinjiang over the past 70 years since the Communist government came to power. Primary school enrollment stands at 99.91% which makes it equal to the highest anywhere else in the world and in particular on a par with the most highly developed western nations.

Recently, a group of 40 western nations lead by Canada (whose own history is less than admirable as recent revelations indicate) issued a statement condemning China’s alleged ill-treatment of its Uyghur population. This fact was widely publicised in the western media. Given almost no coverage was the fact that 90 nations released a statement in response to the Canadian missive, supporting China, in condemning both the fabrication of statistics of alleged genocide and the western attempts to blatantly interfere in China’s internal affairs.

This is a pattern repeated time after time, with adverse comments about China given wide coverage and almost no coverage at all to reporting the facts.

The question to be asked is: why the adverse concentration on Xinjiang? The answer to that question lies in Xinjiang’s extraordinary wealth and natural resources. Oil, natural gas and non-ferrous metals, including copper and gold, are the most important resources. Oil is estimated to exceed 30 billion tons, and those of natural gas exceed 10,000 billion cubic metres.

The rapaciousness of western conglomerates is well known and they would dearly love to get their hands on these resources. That is unlikely to ever happen.

The second major reason for western interest in the region is geography. Xinjiang borders the countries of Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It is therefore uniquely well placed to be in a position to influence precisely those countries which the Americans have long sought an influence.

The United States is currently in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 long years of attempting to change that country to more accurately reflect United States interests. In that they have failed miserably. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that they have lost interest in Afghanistan or the region. The great unasked question, for example, is what will happen to the enormously lucrative heroin crop, With Afghanistan representing more than 80% of the world’s supply, as well as providing billions of dollars in additional revenue for the CIA, the chief organiser and distributor of the heroin on the world market.

It is a topic which most western commentators have been assiduous in avoiding. Attempting to safeguard that crop will be one of the main tasks of the approximately 10,000 United States mercenaries whose withdrawal from Afghanistan has been conspicuously absent from discussions to date.

Of Xinjiang’s other neighbours, India has been a particular interest for the Americans. It has recently resurrected the four-nation grouping involving itself, India, Japan and Australia to form part of its confronting China policy. The Indians are frankly ambivalent, with a long- established relationship to Russia competing with their distrust of China for their attention.

The Australians for their part seem determined to pursue policies designed to maximise conflict with China, their largest trading partner by a significant margin. For the Australians, it seems that maintaining their slavish adherence to the Americans overwhelms what by most objective standards is their own self-interest in the Asian region.

The United States propaganda war against China, and especially over Xinjiang will not die soon. The support shown by China’s non-western friends indicates yet again that the American ability to carry the rest of the world in its anti-China crusade has a limited shelf- life. China and Russia will continue the relationship building through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and similar vehicles, proving yet again that the United States’ days as a vehicle of influence are progressively waining.

The post The United States-Led Propaganda Attack on China Will Prove to Have a Limited Shelf Life first appeared on Dissident Voice.

In Foreign Policy Australia Proves to be a Slow Learner

Quod deus vult perdere prius dementat. (Whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad).

One of the more enduring mysteries of Australian foreign policy is its continued adherence to the American way of war. One has only to look at the history of the post-World War II period to be presented with a host of examples of where Australia has followed the United States into one war after another where a compelling Australian national interest is impossible to identify.

This history of adherence began in Korea in the war that raged in that country between 1950 and 1953. It will be recalled that for years following World War II both the North and the South of Korea waged a guerrilla campaign against each other. The war commenced when the North invaded the South and made major moves on the Southern capital of Seoul and were on the verge of capturing it.

The United States, already alarmed at the Communists taking over China the previous year, reacted to the North’s invasion of the South.  Taking advantage of the temporary non-presence of the Russians in the Security Council, and with China’s seat still held by the defeated Nationalists (a disgrace that lasted a further 22 years) the United States pushed through a resolution in the Security Council authorising military intervention.

Australia was one of the countries that willingly joined this ostensible United Nations action to restore the status quo in Korea. An expeditionary force was rapidly gathered and succeeded in expelling the North from the South of Korea. The United States commander Douglas MacArthur was not content with restoring the status quo. He invaded the North and moved all the way to the Chinese border. We now know that his intention was to invade China and endeavour to restore the Nationalist government. That, of course, was never mentioned at the time.

The United States presence on their border brought the Chinese into the war and they rapidly succeeded in pushing the United States and its allies, including Australia, back south of the border. Stalemate then ensued for the next two years until an uneasy peace deal was reached. This has never been ratified and the North and South of Korea are still technically at war.

Australia’s next involvement in United States aggression was to take part in the war on Vietnam which was precipitated by the South of the country refusing to allow a national election that would undoubtedly have been won by the North’s Ho Chi Minh.

Australia’s involvement in that fiasco lasted more than a decade before the election of the Whitlam Labor government in 1972 saw that government withdrawing Australian troops. That action earned the animosity of the Americans, who together with their agent, the Governor General John Kerr,worked tirelessly for the defeat of the Whitlam government which they achieved in November 1975. Since that time no Labor government has dared to cross the United States. Australia’s foreign policy is an unbroken chain of adherence to United States aggression ever since.

This manifested itself in 2001 when Australia joined the attack on Afghanistan. That commitment ended only two weeks ago when Australian troops were unilaterally and suddenly withdrawn from Afghanistan. The fate of the hundreds of Afghanis who worked with Australian troops during that 20 years is still undecided. They appear to have been abandoned, although public pressure may force a change of heart by the government.

One of the least mentioned features of that conflict was that the Labor Party, although opposing the initial engagement, did nothing to withdraw Australian troops during the six years they were in government during that 20 year involvement.

Similarly, Australia was among the first of the western nations to join the entirely illegal invasion of Iraq. Again, the Labor Party retained that commitment when they were in power, although they initially opposed it. The Australian troops still occupy that country despite a unanimous resolution of the Iraqi parliament demanding that they leave. The Australian government does not bother to justify its position to the Australian parliament and in that they are unchallenged by the Labor opposition. That commitment is also rapidly approaching the 20th anniversary.

Australia’s most recent show of support for United States aggression has been to join the so-called “freedom of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea. It is in Australia’s willingness to join in blatantly anti China exercises that the gap between self-interest and adherence to United States aggression is most marked. China is Australia’s largest trading partner by a considerable margin, although the future of that relationship is now seriously in doubt. There can be no clearer example of a country pursuing a foreign policy that is manifestly at odds with its national interest than the Australian government conflict vis-à-vis China.

The United States alliance goes beyond joining a succession of wars of minimal national interest to Australia. The United States has a number of military bases in Australia, of which arguably the most important is the electronic spying facility at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory. This base had also been targeted by the Whitlam Labor government. It is absolutely no coincidence that the sacking of the Whitlam government by the attorney general John Kerr occurred the day before Whitlam was to announce to the Australian parliament his government’s intention of closing the Pine Gap facility.

That also is a policy that has been abandoned by the Labor opposition. Their foreign policy is not indistinguishable from that of the Liberal government. The fate of the Whitlam government, the last to demonstrate even an inkling of foreign policy independence, is a lesson has been well absorbed by the president Labor leadership.

Even the ignominious United States withdrawal from Afghanistan has been insufficient to encourage even a modicum of rethinking Australia’s foreign defence stances. It can only be a matter of time before Australia follows the United States into yet another war of aggression somewhere in the world. There is no reason to believe that the eventual outcome of that conflict will differ in any way from the experience of the past 70 years: vast expense, huge loss of human life and eventual humiliating retreat.

China may eventually demonstrate to the Australians that there is a price to pay for this endless adherence to the violence of a fading empire. It is a price that Australia will not bear lightly.

The post In Foreign Policy Australia Proves to be a Slow Learner first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Australia Blindly Follows the United States, Regardless of National Interest

One of the more disturbing features of Australian foreign policy is engagement in foreign military activities of minimal importance to Australia’s real military needs. It is a policy that has been pursued by both Liberal and Labor governments and it has a very long history.

In the post-World War II era Australia first became involved in the Korean war from 1950 to 1953. As has been well documented, the United States took advantage of the temporary boycotting of the Security Council by Russia, and that the Chinese seat on the UNSC was occupied by the Nationalist regime that had the previous year lost the Chinese Civil War and moved to exile in what had been previously designated the Republic of Formosa during resistance against the Japanese takeover in the late 19th century.

The second foreign military adventure that Australia would eagerly join its American masters, yet again, was the war in Vietnam. As with Korea, this was essentially a civil dispute between competing factions. Australia’s involvement in that dispute lasted 10 years until the Whitlam Labor government withdrew Australian forces in 1972, thereby earning the lasting distrust of the Americans. Even the now revealed secretive linkages of the Bob Hawke Labor government to the Americans never fully regained American trust.

The Vietnam misadventure was followed by Australia’s involvement in the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. That has only just ended with an unseemly Australian withdrawal from that country hot on the heels of President Biden’s announcement that United States troops would be withdrawn by September of this year. Such was Australia’s unseemly rush for the Afghanistan door that they had failed to make proper provision for the hundreds of Afghanis who had loyally helped them and whose lives are now in danger.

Whether the United States withdrawal actually occurs remains to be seen. The regular force troops are to be replaced by mercenaries, at least 10,000 at last count. An important part of their role will be an attempt to cling onto the lucrative Afghanistan heroin trade, a hugely significant contributor both to United States power and the CIA’s illicit coffers for the past two decades.

The Australian withdrawal from Afghanistan came immediately after Biden confirmed that United States troops would be withdrawn. Without United States approval it is impossible to believe that Australian troops would have been withdrawn. A likely fatality of the withdrawal will be the abandoning by the military prosecuting services of any trial against the Australian soldiers reported to have been involved in serious war crimes. The explanation for abandoning the prosecution will be the Taliban and the difficulty of working with them. The Taliban are advancing at the speed that apparently even they did not anticipate, and their taking effective control of the country can now only be a matter of weeks.

The Taliban were initially overthrown because of their alleged refusal to surrender Osama bin Laden, for his equally alleged role in the events of 11 September 2001 in the United States. In fact, the invasion of Afghanistan for multiple reasons was discussed at the first cabinet meeting of the new Bush presidency in January 2001.

Bin Laden was never more than a smoke screen to obscure the real reasons for invading the country which among other reasons including its vast natural resources, and its geography

The Labor Party, which had opposed the initial invasion of Afghanistan, did nothing to withdraw Australian troops during their six years in power. This is a measure of the extent to which Australian governments, regardless of party affiliation, obey their American masters.

The other war that Australia willingly joined despite the complete absence of any identifiable vital Australian interest, was the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They are still there, despite a unanimous resolution of the Iraqi parliament in January 2000 and all uninvited foreign troops should immediately leave their country. Again, the Australians took their cue from the Americans who simply ignored the demand of the Iraqi parliament that they should leave.

There is a similar, but almost completely unmentioned involvement of Australian troops in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq’s neighbour Syria. Despite the demands of the legitimate Syrian government, United States troops continue to occupy the oil producing areas of Syria and are stealing their oil on a daily basis.

There is absolutely no justification for United States troops to be in Syria, and their continued occupation there is a perfect illustration of the point that United States concern for what they are pleased to call the “rule of law” is utterly meaningless when their geopolitical goals clash with the rights of the offended country.

It has now emerged, again without Parliamentary debate or even any adverse comment by the Labor opposition, that Australia is involved in the NATO military exercises currently underway in the Black Sea.

It is almost impossible to be further from Australia’s territorial waters, let alone being able to identify a legitimate Australian interest in this clearly provocative baiting of Russia in that country’s territorial waters. As with almost every other Australian military venture, and especially when it totally lacks any real relationship to Australia’s national security interests, discussion on the point is completely absent from the parliament and from local media.

The United States is desperately trying to put together a quartet of countries (with India, Japan and Australia) to pursue its interests in the region of the world they call the Asia Pacific. In truth, it is no more than an anti-Chinese coalition cobbled together to assist United States geopolitical interests in a region of the world in which they have no business.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, taking 40% of all its exports. It would be difficult to imagine any action more contrary to its own vital interests, than for Australia to join such a manifestly anti-Chinese grouping.

Unfortunately, as Australia’s entire post World War II history amply demonstrates, when the United States says “jump”, the only Australian response is “how high”? It is a policy choice that is beneficially not in Australia’s interests, yet one they are intent on pursuing. There will inevitably be a day of reckoning.

The post Australia Blindly Follows the United States, Regardless of National Interest first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The West Has Trouble Adapting its Behaviour to Cope With China’s Role

One of the more interesting phenomena at the present time is the campaign against China, to try to portray it as some sort of evil force determined to rule the world in its own image. The timing of this phenomenon is interesting. For much of the post-World War II period China was largely ignored. “China” in the eyes of the world was represented by the Nationalist regime that clung to China’s permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

Even after the resumption of China’s seat on the Security Council had occurred, China still had a small role in world affairs. Its rapid growth to economic prominence began in the 1980s, but at that time its economy was still a fraction of that of the United States. It was not perceived as any sort of economic power, much less a threat to the economic dominance of the United States.

It was only when China’s economy began to dominate that the attitudes of the West also began to change. The Chinese themselves publicly downplayed their increasing dominance in the world’s economy. They still persist in referring to themselves as the world’s second largest economy, and in nominal terms that is true. A far more accurate indicator of relative economic position, however, is to measure an economy in terms of its purchasing power. By that measure China is the world’s largest economy and has been so for several years.

The second indicator of China’s growing economic influence was the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, commenced in 2013. Again, the Western nations took little initial notice of its development. It has expanded rapidly and now includes more than 140 countries from all parts of the world.

The United States has publicly refuted any possibility of becoming a member itself, loyally followed as always by its Australian acolyte. An initiative by the Australian State of Victoria to sign an agreement with China was this year publicly quashed by the federal government when it passed laws to give itself the power to kill the deal.

The attitude of the Australian government to the BRI is curious. China is by far Australia’s biggest trading partner taking around 40% of total exports. The antipathy of the Australian government to participation in the BRI can only be interpreted as not wishing to upset the Americans, whose antipathy to the BRI is well known.

At this year’s meeting of the Group of Seven nations in the United Kingdom, they resolved to start their own effort providing an alternative to the BRI. The source of funds for this exercise are unclear, although it seems that it is being left to private investment. It is difficult to take this initiative seriously. Most of the world’s major companies already have strong economic links to China. They are highly unlikely to become parties to a rival scheme and thereby jeopardise their relationship with the People’s Republic of China.

Apart from the worldwide BRI, China is also a party to a host of alternative arrangements. These include the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on the one hand, and more particularly its Asian neighbours through the ASEAN grouping of 10 nations with close proximity to China’s borders.

Russia and China recently marked the 20th anniversary of the China – Russia Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. Trade between these two countries has accelerated in recent years. In 2010 China surpassed Germany as Russia’s largest trading partner, and the relationship has accelerated in recent years. In 2020 the value of trade between the two nations reached $110 billion, which while a substantial sum is still a lot smaller than Russia’s $260 billion of trade with the European Union.

What is particularly noticeable is that as China has steadily increased its economic influence, the more it has attracted political criticism. This has been especially true of its alleged treatment of its Uighur population in northern China. China vigorously denies these accusations. The more lurid accusations include one of genocide against the Uighur people. It is an accusation that is refuted by the census data, that shows that the total Uighur population is, in fact, increasing at a faster rate than in the rest of China.

The persistence of the allegations of ill-treatment of the Uighurs points to a different political agenda being pursued by the Western critics. Not the least of their motives is influenced by the fact that the Xinjiang region is enormously rich in natural resources, including recently discovered massive reserves of oil. An estimated 900 million tons of oil and gas was found in the Terim Basin in northern Xinjiang. This find makes China a source of oil on a par with Russia and the United States.

The find has done nothing to reduce the flow of criticism of China. That criticism has little in the way of an objective foundation. China is unique in modern history in refusing to use its economic power to influence the domestic policies of countries with which it has a trading relationship. This is in marked contrast to the behaviour of the for

mer colonial powers, especially the United Kingdom and France, and the behaviour in more recent years of the United States.

The United States has not hesitated to use its power to try and influence nations that had resources they coveted, or they simply occupied parts of the world in which the United States had a geopolitical interest. This involved active interference in the political decisions of multiple countries, economic warfare, economic coercion through the role of the United States dollar as a major world currency, and when all else failed resorting to military intervention.

As the Cuba experience graphically illustrates, getting rid of an unwanted occupying power has proven an impossible task. The dismay of the Cubans at the unwanted American occupation is made worse by the fact that the Guantánamo Bay facility is a major vehicle for the holding of United States’ perceived enemies. For all its pretentions to democracy and the rule of law, the endless detention of its perceived opponents without trial or other resolution of their status makes a mockery of the United States’ claims to be a Government of law and justice.

No such charges can be advanced with any conviction against China. It is unique in modern history in resisting the temptation to match economic power with any sort of political coercion. This has not stopped Western criticism of China’s alleged faults which perhaps tell one more about the conscience of its accusers than it does about legitimate complaints of China’s actions.

The world has changed radically in the past 20 years. The sooner the West understands that fact and adjusts its behaviour the safer we are all likely to be.

The post The West Has Trouble Adapting its Behaviour to Cope With China’s Role first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The United States Continues to Play its Geopolitical Games but the Rest of the World Moves On

One has to seriously wonder what game Joe Biden thinks he is playing. Fresh from what appears to have been an amiable meeting with Vladimir Putin in Geneva, the United States promptly announced a new range of sanctions upon Russia. The ostensible reason for the latest sanctions was the imprisonment of minor Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. This man has been the subject of more media attention in the western mainstream media than any other Russian figure apart from President Putin himself.

The latest episode of publicity springs from Navalny being sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. What is missing from the vast majority of western accounts of this imprisonment is that it was the activation of a previously suspended sentence on counts of dishonesty. Navalny blatantly breached the terms of his conditional release on these charges. He knew he would be sent to prison for this yet voluntarily returned to Russia after a spell in a German hospital.

The reason Navalny was in hospital was that he became ill on an internal Russian flight. The aircraft was diverted to enable Navalny to be admitted to hospital. There he was treated by Russian doctors who diagnosed various illnesses that Navalny had a history of. At his request he was released to a German hospital when it was announced that he was suffering from exposure to Novichok.

No evidence of this substance has ever been released by the German authorities. We are expected to believe that this was undetected in the Russian hospital where Navalny was first treated. This simply defies common sense. It is even more unlikely that if Navalny did have evidence of an alleged poisoning he would be freely released to a western hospital. Unfortunately, truth and logic are two components conspicuously missing in all western media reports of his illness.

Navalny chose to voluntarily return to Russia where he knew he would be sent to prison for parole violations. Again, if Russia had indeed tried to kill him, it defies logic that he would return to the site of his alleged assassination attempt. To give them a second chance to finish him off?

The logic behind western support for this minor politician has always been a conspicuously absent component of the saga. Navalny was at best a minor player in the Russian political stakes. The last time he stood for public office he barely received 2% popular support, hardly the sort of figures to cause Vladimir Putin any serious headaches.

Now the Americans are using Navalny’s imprisonment as the ostensible reason for further sanctions. It simply does not make any sense at all to use this minor political irritant as a reason to impose further sanctions upon Russia. It is especially puzzling given the obvious attempts by the Americans to de-freeze their Russian antipathy. It needs to be remembered that the summit between Biden and Putin was at the strong request of the Americans.

They were clearly playing a different game in requesting the meeting and what appears to have been an effort to de-freeze US –Russia relations. It is not rocket science to anticipate the real American motives for wanting to de-freeze the relationship between the United States and Russia.

The United States knows it cannot take on both Russia and China at the same time, and it clearly sees China as the greater threat to its long-standing hegemony upon the world stage. Hence, to clear its decks for a full-scale assault upon the Chinese, it needed to subvert the Russian-Chinese relationship. That relationship has never been stronger. The two countries recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of an agreement between the two States to cooperate more fully with each other.

The relationship has grown notary stronger in the past two or three years, helped in no small part by the obvious antipathy to the two nations shown by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. It is one of life’s little ironies that Trump was heavily and continuously attacked by his political rivals as being “Putin’s puppet,” although in truth there was never any kind of relationship between the two men, let alone one that could be used as a political weapon against Trump.

Yet we now see Biden, anxious to sit down with Putin only a few months into his presidency. He was able to do so without chorus of antipathy that was a constant feature of the Trump presidency toward any gesture that Trump may have made — or wanted to make — toward Russia.

Apart from seeking some clear air for the American concentration on China, the United States has another motive for the meeting. There is now a serious gap between Russian and American military technology, and Biden was anxious to negotiate some type of freeze in Russian military technology advances. Repeated independent commentators such as Andrei Martyanov (Disintegration, Charity Press 2021) estimate the United States is now at least 10 years behind Russia in military technology, and has the capacity to wipe out its American competition.

The Americans, who have already ceded economic supremacy to the Chinese, are keen to ensure that the military status does not follow the same fate. To this end they are mounting a relentless campaign against China, accusing them of multiple human rights abuses in Hong Kong, and especially against the Uighur population of the autonomous region of Xinjiang.

There have been lurid allegations against China over the alleged ill-treatment of the Uighur population ranging from mass imprisonment to enforced abortion and genocide. That these allegations are completely devoid of a factual basis has not stopped the relentless western propaganda.

The crucial involvement of Xinjiang in China’s Belt and Road Initiative and abundance of natural resources, including a recent discovery of huge oil deposits, is not unrelated to the motives behind the western attacks. The latest population data from the region, showing a higher growth rate than for China as a whole, is but one factual element that destroys the lurid allegations of “genocide”. These and related stories of systematic abuse by the Chinese authorities were recently demolished by Max Blumenthal ( 30 April 2021).

Facts have a troubling way of destroying the propaganda. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to see a cessation of the constant attacks on China by its geopolitical enemies who clearly are moving to a different agenda.

The Russian-Chinese alliance will, however, continue to make enormous strides in reshaping the geopolitical and trading agenda. The United States will just have to adapt to these new realities.

The post The United States Continues to Play its Geopolitical Games but the Rest of the World Moves On first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Unwise to Expect Anything Substantial from Biden-Putin Meeting This Week

This Wednesday, the United States president Joe Biden will meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in Geneva in the first meeting of the two since Biden came to power in January 2021. It would be unwise to expect too much from this meeting. There are a number of reasons for advancing this view.

The first of these reasons relates to American motives for the meeting. It is clear that the Americans have decided that the greatest threat to their position in the world comes from the Chinese. Their policy is plainly to try and isolate the Chinese. In this endeavour they are employing a number of tactics. One of these tactics is to negatively portray Chinese behaviour. Hence the constant use of pejorative terms such as “aggressive” or “one-sided” in their attempts to negatively portray Chinese interaction with its neighbours and international trading partners. That this tactic is blatantly obvious, not to mention untrue, has not deterred Americans from its relentless pursuit.

A second tactic is to try and set up an alternative system of international trade to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This is laughable. The BRI has already signed up more than 140 nations, including 12 members of the European Union. Australia is one of the few nations that have bought into the American propaganda about the BRI. Partial evidence for this is the treatment of the State of Victoria which signed memorandum of understanding with China.

This was bitterly opposed by the Morrison government, although it is impossible to find a rational basis for their opposition. A number of Australia’s neighbours, including New Zealand, have signed into the BRI and there is no evidence that they see themselves as victims of some Chinese plot to subvert their economies.

A third reason the talks will be unlikely to achieve anything of substance is history. The Americans have not ceased their economic and political warfare on Russia. The fact that the United States appears to have withdrawn its opposition to the Russian pipeline to Germany has more to do with a recognition that the Germans see it as essential to their economic well-being than anything else.

The Americans have been prepared to sacrifice the Ukrainians on this point, which is a measure of the importance to United States interest in Europe of keeping the Germans on side. In pursuit of this they are prepared to sacrifice the Ukrainians. This latter fact has come as a rude shock to the Ukrainians who faced the twin humiliation of a visit from United States secretary of state Antony Blinken followed by a blatant refusal by Biden to support Ukrainians when the latter made a telephone call to the White House.

The Americans continue in their demands that Crimea should be returned to Ukraine, which tells one more about the American grasp of geopolitical reality than it does about the likelihood of Crimea ever becoming part of Ukraine again. History is not the least of the reasons why Crimea will remain part of Russia. Australia has bought into the rubbish that Crimea is part of Ukraine. They would do well to remember their own history, including the fact that the Australians fought the Russians in Crimea in the 1850s.

Putin is also well aware of American efforts to destabilise countries on its borders, including a coup attempt last year to overthrow the government of Georgia. This is on top of ongoing destabilisation by the Americans on Russia’s other neighbour Belarus. Biden’s faux friendliness to Russia has not stopped any of these destabilisation efforts.

Part of the problem the Americans have in dealing with Russia is that the upper echelons of power in Washington are appallingly ignorant of Russia. They have fallen into the trap of believing their own propaganda. Their mainstream media is no better. The Russian writer Andrei Martyanov, an American resident and one of the most clearsighted analysts around, is particularly scathing of the quality of United States “analysis” of Russia.

In his latest book, Disintegration, (2021) Martyanov argues that the United States is “non-agreement capable.” Anything that the Americans sign is worthless as they cannot be relied upon to honour that in the longer term. He argues most recently (June 13) that the forthcoming summit between Biden and Putin is primarily for United States domestic consumption and for the benefit of the United States’ vassal states in Europe, designed to prove that “America is back.” Back to what exactly remains an open question.

Another of the real reasons for Biden wanting the summit is the gap that has broken out between Russian and United States weaponry. The United States is currently about 10 years behind the Russians in military technology and Biden is desperate to pin the Russians into some form of treaty that could limit the effects of this devastating gap. Russian weaponry such as the 3M 22 Zircon and the 3M 14 Khalibr are overwhelmingly superior to anything the Americans have. Putin is highly unlikely to agree to anything that will lessen the Russian advantage in these areas.

Biden will be making a desperate attempt to peel the Russians away from the effect of their alliance with China. His motives are obvious. The Americans want to be left with a clear field to refine and expand their attack upon China. That attack could quickly degenerate into a real shooting match given the constant provocation in the South China Sea that the United States (with their British and Australian allies) are constantly engaging in.

The Russia – China allegiance is now 20 years old and has never been stronger. American ambitions about luring the Russians away from the Chinese embrace are doomed to failure.

In short, it would be extremely unwise to expect any achievements from the Biden – Putin summit this week. There will be polite noises and many smiles, but the odds against a serious achievement run into the brick wall of the United States’ profound belief in its mission as “leaders of the free world.” As long as they maintain that delusion the chances of a serious degree of agreement are practically zero.

The post Unwise to Expect Anything Substantial from Biden-Putin Meeting This Week first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Russia-China Relationship Points to a Better Future for the World

The United States is openly stating its desire for a better relationship with Russia. At the recent meeting in Reykjavík, Iceland, United States secretary of state Blinken and his Russian counterpart Lavrov held what has been termed as a cordial meeting. It is well known that United States president Biden is anxious for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Putin. The Russians are correct to be cautious about such a meeting. Biden has some lost ground to make up. His television interview shortly after being elected in which he agreed with the interviewer that Putin was a “killer” has not been forgotten in Moscow.

The Americans have made other gestures to signify that they are interested in a better relationship with Russia. Among these gestures is the dropping of United States attempts to stifle the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project that will bring electricity from Russia to Germany. That deal is due for completion later this year and will probably be delivering Russian power to Germany by September.

United States opposition to the deal always had a high level of self-interest as they wished the Europeans to buy their own, much more expensive, electricity. The Germans were never interested in that deal, for multiple reasons, not the least being that it would place German industry even more susceptible to United States influence than is already the case.

Although Nord Stream 2 now looks highly likely to be completed, it is not yet a done deal. There is some significant opposition within Germany itself, somewhat surprisingly, coming from the Green Party who are currently polling well is advance of September’s elections. It is surprising because the Green Party attitude placed them in line with the American view, which is one indicator of how far the Greens have travelled from their early days.

The support of German industry is likely, however, to be decisive, regardless of the outcome of September’s elections. The election also marks the retirement of Chancellor Angela Merkel who has been the dominant German leader for the past 15 ½ years, making her Germany’s third longest serving leader.

The United States gestures toward improved relationships with Russia has, of course, a subtext. The Americans have decided that the greatest threat to their continued domination is the rise of China. If the Americans are to compete with China, they see the need to separate Russia and China.

It is a fact that the Russian-China relationship has grown markedly in recent years. In trade terms alone, Russia’s trade with China grew 20% in the first quarter of this year. Apart from trade there are a number of other areas where the two nations are building an ever-closer relationship, not least in their bilateral trade, but also through the joint membership of the Shanghai Corporation Organisation and other international organisations.

Those organisations have a common interest in developing strong trade relations, freed from the often-suffocating embrace of the western dominated financial institutions that have dominated world international trade for the past 70+ years.

China has been at the forefront of developing this new system. It is exemplified, for example, by its Belt and Road Initiative, which now embraces more than 140 countries around the world, having representation in all of the world’s regions including Africa and Latin America. Those two regions have historically been under the heavy influence of the British and the Americans respectively.

It is no surprise that the United States is a prominent non-starter with the Belt and Road Initiative, seeing it as a threat to their earlier domination. Unsurprisingly, they are joined in this antipathy by Australia whose federal government recently blocked moves by the state of Victoria to participate in the BRI. The Australian government has gone out of its way to antagonise the Chinese in recent years, which, to put it mildly, is a singularly stupid policy to pursue with one’s largest trading partner by a considerable margin.

Australian ministers have recently complained that their phone calls to Chinese counterparts go unanswered and not returned. According to the Australian government it is all China’s fault, which tells one more about the Australian mindset than it does about the reality of the relationship.

China in the meantime continues its relentless advance. As measured by the more reliable indicator of parity purchasing power, rather than gross domestic product, China is now the world’s largest trading entity, having passed the United States some years ago. One of the reasons for China’s success, in the BRI and elsewhere, is that they base their relationship with their trading partners on what Chinese leader Xi calls a “win-win” situation.

Unsurprisingly, this approach, so different from the West’s way of doing business, is one that finds favour with a vast number of countries. United States attempts to contain China and limit its ever-growing influence around the world is therefore unlikely to succeed.

That does not make the United States challenge any less serious and one fraught with potential risks. United States has had things its own way for so long, and has used and abused that power with virtual impunity, that it will not take the emergence of a serious competitor lightly. Therein lies the greatest danger to the world.

The Chinese are not going to allow any return to the dark years when they were dominated by Western influence. If the Americans do something stupid, like a military response to their declining power and influence around the world, then the Russia-China close relationship will doom that effort to failure. The majority of the world’s countries who are benefiting from the new form of partnership will certainly lend their influence to ensure the return to the old days of United States dominance remains very much a matter of the past.

The post The Russia-China Relationship Points to a Better Future for the World first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Realities of Changing Power in Asia Require a Fundamental Rethink in Australian Policies

And important article has been written by Hugh White the emeritus professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University and a former deputy secretary of the Department of Defence. It deserves to be widely read and the points he makes absorbed by all who are concerned about the current direction of Australia’s defence strategy.

White commences his article by pointing out the alarming drop in Australian exports to China, a country that is by far its major trading market, taking 40% of Australia’s exports.  That is a figure twice the proportion of Australia’s next largest market, Japan.

Australia is responding to the difficulties with China by going out of its way to seek new ways of offending the country. It has deteriorated to the point where senior government ministers are talking with what he calls disconcerting nonchalance to the growing risk of war. He points out that the government shows no signs of appreciating how serious and dangerous the current situation is. Equally disturbing is that the government seems to have no plan to fix the problem. This must count, he says, as one of the biggest failures in Australian history.

On a more contentious level, White points out that Australia’s interests have been well served by the United States led order. He argues that this order has kept our region stable and peaceful for so long. That is dubious to say the least. In the post-World War II era the United States promoted the Korean war, invading the North of Korea and continuing right to the Chinese border. We now know that the Americans sought the approval of President Truman to use nuclear weapons as part of the invasion of China, then under a newly installed Communist government.

The American belligerence brought China into that war, with the Americans and their allies, including Australia, being rapidly driven back south of the North-South Korean border. Millions of North Koreans died in the aerial assault by the Americans on their country over the next two years.

It would also be difficult to argue that the United States war on Vietnam, again with the willing assistance of Australia, that raged from 1954 with the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu to their final humiliating retreat in 1975.

White says that the Australian government has a plan, it wants to make the Chinese problem go away by forcing the Chinese to go away and abandon its own ambitions in favour of United States concept of the rules-based order, a peculiarly framed concept that the Americans have long promoted. This writer argues that it is an attempt to replace the more widely accepted concept of the rule of international law which has served the international community well in the post-World War II era.

Australia has been quick to join the Americans, and more recently the British, in placing China at the top of its opponents list. White points out how easily this plan to contain China could go awry.

Australian policy is based in large part on a belief that its concerns are shared by other nations in the region. That seriously underestimates the extent to which other countries in the region value their economic ties to China. China is by objective measurement the world’s largest economy and by the estimate of Australia’s own 2017 foreign policy White Paper will be close to double the size of the United States economy by 2030.

This simple stark brutal fact overshadows everything else, White says, because wealth is power in the international system. One of the simple effects of China’s great power is that it could easily impose great costs on those who oppose it. That is the fundamental principle that the Australian government fails to acknowledge.

It is the brutal reality that Australia’s other friends in the region, including Singapore, South Korea and even Japan, recognise. He quotes Singapore prime minister Lee who in a recent major speech very plainly repudiated the idea of trying to control China. Instead, Lee argued, we should be accommodating China’s ambitions by creating a new regional order that reflects the new realities of regional power.

Those realities mean that the Morrison government ambition to push China “back into the box” are doomed to fail. This is a reality that is even recognised by the Americans under President Biden. Biden will choose the option of rebuilding America to that of trying to contain China.

It is a brutal reality that has not been recognised by the “lacklustre administration” in power in Australia. White argues that the current Australian leadership seems to have no idea of the risks to Australia that their current policy represents. The government is currently hiding behind the benefits of the high iron ore price. The future looks a lot grimmer for Australian exports, with other markets only partially replacing the lost Chinese market.

As important as the economic losses are, however, they are trivial in comparison with the strategic risks and costs that Australia faces as a consequence of its incredible stupidity in advocating a policy of containment toward China.

White points out that the current Australian policy toward China runs the very real risk of degenerating into a shooting war. This blunt effect was recently acknowledged, among others, by defence Minister Peter Dutton. The governing assumption appears to be that the United States will go to war with China, and that Australia will follow along, as it has done so in the past, Including in at least three current foreign wars of little or no real relevance to Australia.

The consequences of Australia fighting a war with China would be devastating. Not the least of its consequences would be the loss of America’s position in Asia. Australia is blindly following the United States into the possibility of a war with China and no one in the government appears to have given a thought as to the consequences of what is almost certainly an American loss.

Australia needs to spend some serious time thinking about a new approach to China, indeed to the implications of the inevitable rise of our great Asian neighbouring powers, including India and Indonesia. All of this has implications for Australia’s relationship to its traditional modes of thinking, none of which is of real relevance in the realities of the 21st century.

White points out that such rethinking would require hard work, deep thought and subtle execution. It would mean, he says, a revolution in our foreign policy. The changes in our region require nothing less. The real question is whether our political leadership even begins to grasp the implications of these changes and do they have the wit to formulate and execute the policy changes that are so manifestly required. Thus far the signs are not encouraging.

The post The Realities of Changing Power in Asia Require a Fundamental Rethink in Australian Policies first appeared on Dissident Voice.