China’s strategists in Australia are completely anxious
Various experts have criticized the cancellation of the Belt and Road Agreement between Victoria and China last week. AFR’s editorial is typical:
- Small dead cases like the BIS are irrelevant.
- We need to engage China where we can.
- The defense of values is facilitated by the search for common interests.
These are crazy words. The main reason Australia moved away from China was its intention to corrupt the country. The BIS deal is a perfect example of this attempt and the perfect target for pushback.
Historically, Australia’s engagement with China has unfolded in two distinct phases. The first was commodity-based until 2011, as China’s economy and politics liberalized. The second was based on services after Xi Jinping brought China back to the path of economic restructuring and tyranny.
The second phase came with a lot of tourists and students as well as commodities. But as people-to-people exchanges deepened, China also launched a massive corruption surge through lobbying, political bribes, and various influence operations.
It was a plan of the Chinese dictatorship. He sought to separate Australia from ANZUS by capturing interest groups, abusing our immigration program by occupying Chinese electorates and outright buying political parties.
The crackdown on this “silent invasion” is the most important feature of China’s decoupling from Australia as it is the feature of the engagement most likely to destroy our values (i.e. democracy liberal).
The BIS may be a largely dead deal, but it’s the perfect symbol of the CCP’s push to quietly occupy Australia. On that basis alone, it was right to do it.
But we must also look to the future. On this basis, the canning of the BIS was even more important. In doing so, the Morrison government applied a corrective balm to what was deteriorating Australian standards around the CCP.
The cancellation of the BIS reaffirmed an Australian value system that all of these agreements are inappropriate, that they are in the national interest and that they will erode our freedoms. It directly reinforced what distorted political, business, educational, and community values around Chinese influence.
On this basis, all these subnational agreements with China should be erased with prejudice.
As we finally win this battle at home, there are still some pretty chilling ideas floating around on another front. A private relevance of Tony Abbott was on the lookout this weekend:
- Xi Jinping is dedicated to the recovery of Taiwan.
- If he succeeds, the other allies will no longer trust the US alliance network.
- They will collapse in the arms of Beijing.
- The United States should remove any strategic ambiguity and fully support Taiwan.
Worse yet, it’s Hugh White this morning:
- The United States cannot win the Taiwan War without a nuclear deployment.
- The United States is bluffing.
- But if he doesn’t fight, America’s strategic leadership crumbles in Asia.
Both items are typical Thucydides Trap swivels. Taiwan is not part of the official US alliance network for a very good reason. The Sino-Taiwanese conflict has always been a civil war played out on the world stage.
Taiwan is not the equivalent of Singapore to the British Empire during World War II, the time when rising power overtakes decline. It is the American equivalent of the British Hong Kong agreement. China has always had a long-term lease on Taiwan, even if it is written in blood and not in ink.
We should all be very grateful that generations of American strategic planners have had the foresight to see it this way, even though binary Australian fools cannot.
If China invades Taiwan, then it will strengthen all formal US alliances in the region because every Asian capital will immediately be forced to ask “are we next on the CCP’s target list?” They will rush straight to Washington to secure the alliance with big and big controls for new US naval bases in their home countries. Ask yourself which Southeast Asian country wants to be occupied a second time by a vicious and racist fascist North Asian state?
The United States should definitely play hardball on Taiwan. He absolutely must arm it to the teeth. He absolutely has to see it as a crucial Cold War conflict and push China to the end. And, if the worst happens, it should absolutely destroy Taiwan’s strategic strengths such as semiconductor production.
But he doesn’t need to wage war to save the empire. Instead, the United States should build a global coalition of liberal states to make the CCP understand that if it annexed Taiwan, it would be unceremoniously expelled from the world economy through a commodity blockade, trade and capital. Accompanying that should be a liberal BIS. A global Marshall Plan that rips all of America’s supply chains out of China and rains them on the Asian alliance network instead.
This would make any CCP victory in Taiwan entirely Pyrrhic because, before long, it had to face collapsing living standards and mass unrest at home.
We can already see the beginnings of this from the Biden administration:
- Like-minded allies must unite to fight the rise of autocratic states.
- They should act collectively on slave labor in Xinjiang.
- Values must permeate business relationships.
The realistic question for the liberal world is not whether or not to defend Taiwan in order to save the American liberal empire. This is how to make this conflict the end of the illiberal Chinese upstart.