China is using blackmail diplomacy on us…. We’ll be ok.
So China is angry at us.
They’ve slapped tariff’s on our barley exports. There’s a ban on beef exports.
And we’re just getting started.
The inside word in Canberra is that this is in retaliation to our calls for an international investigation into the origins of the Corona virus, with perhaps a dose of lingering resentment for freezing out Huawei from the 5G rollout.
That sounds a bit petty, and you might be thinking that Australia’s leaders could be more careful about the things they say.
But the issue is simpler, and more inevitable, than that.
Australia had to take sides.
The relationship between the US and China has reached a place where it was always heading – rivalry. The Chinese and American political models are simply incompatible. And so as China’s economic and political power grew, it was inevitable that they would start butting heads with America eventually.
The Trump administration has brought that all out into the light, but you can trace it back to the final years of the Obama administration.
And now that we’ve all stopped pretending that we’re not in the middle of a global turf war, it’s time for the rest of us to pick sides.
For many years, Australia has tried to have its cake and eat it too. We’ve wanted access to China’s markets, while turning a blind eye to the CCP’s authoritarian nature.
But we can’t do that any more. It’s time to pick sides.
I mean, there’s no middle ground anymore. Do you think the US is going to be cool with us farming out the nations communications infrastructure to a CCP-owned corporation?
(All company’s in China are CCP-controlled, to one degree or another.)
Of course not.
And so with our totally meaningless calls for an international inquiry (as if China was ever going to roll with that!), what we’re actually seeing is Australia simply signalling which side of the turf war we’re on.
We’re part of team America now. F-yeah!
And maybe your pride stings at that – that we can’t stand on our own two feet and choose our own friends.
But we’re a tiny nation with a tiny military. We don’t get that luxury. We live on the graces of one empire or another. Every tiny nation does.
And so it looks like we’re going with the American empire. I’m ok with that. And not because I think the US is any more noble or righteous than China – far from it – but my values simply align with American political values – as flawed as their democracy is – than they do with China’s.
I think it’s a good call.
But having made our intentions clear, China is testing our resolve.
“Oh, you want to be on Team America do you? What if we take away your barley dollars? What about your beef dollars? What about your student revenue, or coal exports? How do you like those apples?”
It’s blackmail diplomacy, and it’s just getting started.
But I’m ok about that too.
Australia is a commodity exporter. Commodities are fungible – they’re easily swapped around.
So imagine China starts buying their barley from Brazil instead of us. Well, ok, we’ll just sell the barley to whoever Brazil was selling it to.
Global barley demand doesn’t change. All you get is ‘trade substitution’.
And in that sense, even though we have let our economy become crazily dependent on China in recent years, China needs us more than we need them.
So I’m chill.
I’m relaxed about it. We’ve picked sides, and I think we made the right choice.
Retaliations are coming, but we’ll be ok.
Our tiny and fragile little democracy – our awesome and lucky little country – will survive.