Archive for the ‘China’ Category

From Hugh White’s Quarterly Essay

July 4, 2011

Hugh White, Quarterly Essay Power Shift: Between Beijing and Washington

It’s bloody good! Here are a coupla bits.

In broad terms Australia has five alternatives in a more contested Asia. We can remain allied to America, seek another great and powerful friend, opt for armed neutrality, build a regional alliance with our Southeast Asian neighbours, or do nothing and hope for the best.
Page 60

The suggestion that we would urge the US to relinquish primacy in favour of shared leadership with China runs against our oldest and deepest foreign-policy principles. We have always believed that our security required the domination of the Western Pacific by an Anglo-Saxon maritime power, and we have always given priority to supporting our ally’s primacy however and wherever we could. That instinct remains as strong today as ever. We can hardly imagine what it would be like to live in an Asia which is not led by the US. All our history and instincts therefore incline us to push the US to contest China’s challenge and maintain the status quo for as long as possible. Yet our interests and our future should incline us to push the other way.
Page 59


Book: “There goes the neighbourhood”

July 2, 2011

Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Wesley this month releases There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia. At the heart of the book is a paradox: Australia is richer than it has ever been after two decades of prosperity, and has escaped relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis. Our riches stem from our increasing trade engagement with the world, especially the flowering Asian economies to our north, and yet as a nation we are increasingly insular, complacent and incurious about that world. Upheavals are afoot, and it seems we don’t want to know. “Australia is entering a strange new world”, argues Wesley, “for which it is nowhere near psychologically or attitudinally prepared.”
Neighbourhood Watch
Luke Stegemann, Adelaide Review May 2011

Put out dirty old Flags!!!

July 1, 2011

Ha ha ha.

Mitchell read out the (foundation of the Northern Territory) proclamation: his wife tugged at the flagpole rope, and a less than pristine commonwealth flag was run up. A new one was available; it had been made for the occasion by Chinese tailors in town, but the White Australia activists of the North Australia League were so enraged by its provenance that they had threatened to boycott the event if it were used.
White Elephant Territory
Weekend Australian Review April 9-10 2011
Nicholas Rothwell

Foreign and Defence Policy – useful readings

March 16, 2011

Have read some stuff of late about Australian Foreign and Defence Policy that should have been blogged. Hugh White (ANU prof of Strategic Studies) wrote a Quarterly Essay on “Power Shift: Australia’s Future between Beijing and Washington” which I’ve made notes from but don’t have to hand – shall do so. It’s a good outline of the various options open (all of them, of course, messy).

It was brought back to mind because he has a very good piece in the March issue of “the Monthly”
(subscription required) on two biographies of between-the-wars prime ministers, Stanley Melbourne Bruce and Joseph Lyons.

He begins

Most of us think that for much of Australia’s history we have not really had a foreign policy. We assume our approach to the world has always been determined for us by our great and powerful friends – that Australia’s leaders have passively accepted policies set in London and Washington, and loyally sent troops to fight in the resulting wars. Certainly this seems true today: John Howard wrote in his memoirs that our alliance with the United States meant that there was never any question of joining Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and – perhaps more surprisingly – Paul Kelly recently has suggested that the closeness of the relationship means there is no scope for Australia to do anything but support American policy on China.
But has it always been that way? Both sides of politics share the assumption that it has. Conservatives are proud of it they thin loyalty to the leaders of the Anglosphere is a natural and proper expression of shared values and identity. Those on the Left see it as a regrettable failure to realise our true destiny as an independent country. Both sides find their prejudices confirmed and neither side asks, nor perhaps cares, if their view of history is correct…

There’s lots of interesting stuff in between, and White closes with the following observation

More than six months into her premiership, Julia Gillard has said nothing substantial about how Australia should respond to the remarkable transformation of Asia that is taking place on her watch, as power shifts to China. She says she isn’t interested in foreign affairs. She seems not to realise that Asia’s power shift poses challenges to Australia comparable to any we have faced in our history. She has no choice but to be interested.

Finally, in the latest Arena there is an excellent piece on “the militarisation of defence” by Jon Langmore, based on work he did with Calum Logan and Stewart Firth. Langmore opens

“The Defence White Paper assumes an aggressive posture and receives unprecedented funding.
One of the most shocking features of contemporary Australian defence policy is that military expenditure has a longer and larger guarantee than any other type of Australian public spending has ever been given before. The 2009 Defence White Paper concluded with a final chapter entitled “The Government’s Financial Plan for Defence”, which was an astoundingly brief page and a half long. This guaranteed the Defence Department increased funding of 5.5 per cent every year until 2017-18 and 4.7 per cent each year from then until 2030. No other type of Australian public expenditure has ever been promised such largess(sic) for such a long period.

Later he adds

Australia has fewer overseas diplomatic missions than any other member of the G20.

Unlike an earlier generation of Labor ministers in the Hawke and Keating governments, the Rudd government did not resist demands from the Defence Department, the weapons manufacturers, and th other members of military-industrial complex. In place of a focus on ‘defensive defence’, low-level threats and regional peackeeping, they opted for ‘offensive defence’. The 2009 White Paper intensified key elements of Howard government defence policy, that is, forward projection of forces, strike capability, and high technology weapons systems, and, like the Coalition, promised increased real spending on defence every year.

It’s full of useful ideas and information, but then, isn’t pretty much everything in Arena.

An impartial Martian would conclude that Australia was a tooled-up 51st State with delusions of reciprocity with Uncle Sam… This may not end well….

Hilarious and accurate description of Australia

January 14, 2011

Australia is a very small chain of overpopulated Islands of dubious fertility surrounded by sand and salt water. Its prosperity comes entirely from its willingness to dig up its mineral resources and sell them overseas, principally to China which depends for its demand on the US as buyer of first, middle and last resort. And the US just voted to rush headlong into a major depression, if not actual financial collapse.
From “They NEVER give up”, November 4 2010 post at, by
Earl Mardle

In a hole, looking for new places to dig

January 12, 2011

Australia is “jokingly” referred to as China’s quarry. The Australian economy is booming, and very tied to China‘s seemingly insatiable demand for raw materials.

And here’s this from today’s Australian Financial Review:

The federal government has been pressed by a think tank of scientists to provide funding to ensure subsurface exploration for future resource discoveries.
“A few tens of millions of dollars of co-ordinated research and mapping could reveal hundreds of billions of dollars of potential new mines,” said one of the scientists and director of Western Mining Services, Jon Hronsky.”
A report by the the 2010 Theo Murphy High Flyers Think Tank at the Australian Academy of Science said what was needed to promote future exploration was to geologically map Australia’s subsurface.
Australian Financial Review12 January 2011
“Miners need deeper maps: scientists” by Louise Dodson

Words you won’t find in the story “Emissions,” “Climate Change,” “Carbon Dioxide,” “Ecological Limits.” They’ve obviously been taking lessons in missing the point from the Manchester Evening News…