Monday 24th of June 2024

worse than you think…….

Nothing exemplifies the loss of national sovereignty, and the abandonment of strategic autonomy, like handing the war decision over to the US. The submarine issue is simply a blind. AUKUS is just a distraction.

The Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) joint statement records Australia’s surreptitious accession as the 51st state of the Union. That it has been done without a vote, or even a serious national or parliamentary debate, highlights the accompanying loss of democracy.


By Mike Scrafton


Australia has effectively surrendered its right to say what kinds of military platforms and weapons can be brought on to, or stationed in, its territory.

The Australian government will permit “the rotational deployment of US aircraft of all types in Australia and appropriate aircraft training and exercises”. It will facilitate “increasing logistics and sustainment capabilities of US surface and subsurface vessels in Australia”. Alarmingly, Australia will “[E]stablish a combined logistics, sustainment, and maintenance enterprise to support high end warfighting and combined military operations in the region”.

This represents a complete and total subordination of Australia’s interests to those of America. It is not possible to say no to America when so deeply entwined with US military war preparations.

The total abrogation of the right of Australia to independently determine its own strategic situation is contained in just three words in the joint statement. The ministers agreed that the purpose of giving Australia over to the US military as a base was to “deter our adversaries”. Australia now has “adversaries”!

Australia is now openly a cog in America’s war plans. In plain language, Australia now refers to China as an adversary, that is an enemy, and has acceded to turning itself into a launching pad for “high end warfighting and combined military operations in the region”. Think what is enveloped in that phrase!

At best this is ill-considered and reckless rhetoric, at worst a potentially irretrievable step towards war wherever and whenever the US decides to embark on one.

The implications of this for Australia need to be understood. First, it appears these concessions license the deployment of nuclear weapons to Australia.

The US strategic nuclear triad and its tactical nuclear capability is spread across a range of delivery means, including US aircraft, and surface and sub-surface platforms.

The joint statement is open-ended, it doesn’t exclude long-range nuclear armed bombers, ballistic missile submarines, or the various platforms with tactical nuclear cruise missiles.

If Australia is to be a base for sustaining operations it seems inevitable nuclear weapons will enter, transit or be stored here. Australia is too far from the South China Sea to be for launching conventional operations.

The transfer of technology related to nuclear-powered submarines and cooperation on other technical and industry matters — like hypersonics and space — are sops to the eager Australians desperate to be big international players.

It is unlikely the US will offer up the family jewels; the leading edge innovations and technologies that provide America’s commercial as well as military advantage will be withheld. The intellectual property that gives the US its technological military edge will also be essential to its national economic competition with China.

None of the US’s apparent generosity will provide short term advantages to Australia.

The guarantees under ANZUS are not changed. The ability of Australia to defend itself won’t be altered substantially until at least 2040.

However, access to Australia as a base hosting a “logistics, sustainment, and maintenance enterprise to support high end warfighting and combined military operations”, and unfettered access for US forces and platforms, gives America some strategic depth and somewhere to retreat to if, as many expect, the US will be expelled from the South China Sea in the first engagement with China.

Then, under the pretence of being war ready, and as a logical step for protecting US platforms using Australian facilities from long range or stand-off attacks, it won’t be long until we see missile defences deployed. That’s because all of this means Australia will have become a target.

The enormity of these concessions, and the abrogation of sovereign responsibility for the security of Australian citizens, has largely been met with equanimity bordering on somnambulism by the Labor Party.

In apparent disregard for national sovereignty, strategic autonomy, and national interest, the Opposition has meekly gone along with the government arbitrarily shifting Australia on to a dangerous warpath without the endorsement of the Australian people.

The Opposition seems to comfortably and uncritically countenance the prospect of the total disaster of following the US into war. There is little satisfaction in knowing Labor will share in the opprobrium of history if there are Australian deaths to be summed as a result of a war they implicitly endorsed.

Preparing for war in the name of peace has an awful record of going wrong and producing a perverse outcome. The war parties are often the loudest in the policy debate, but, a war with China is something to be avoided at all costs. Turning Australia into a US fortress, another Alamo, must be resisted.




See also: 

spilling the beans on "the dismissal"...


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the view from china……...

Sugarcoating can't legitimize AUKUS sub deal


By Zhang Yunbi


The Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, being held from Aug 1 to 26, is a crucial opportunity for the international community to restore the fundamentals of the global nuclear order. Especially, because the NPT has the largest membership of any arms control agreement-191 state parties.

Although the once-in-five-year conference was delayed due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, it still serves as an alarm reminding the world of the need to prevent nuclear proliferation. That brings us to AUKUS(a security partnership among Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States), under which the UK and the US will help Australia acquire as many as eight nuclear-powered submarines.

The three countries issued a joint statement on Sept 15, 2021, announcing the establishment of AUKUS, catching the world by surprise not only because Australia had broken the contract with France to buy diesel-powered submarines for about $66 billion but also because two nuclear weapon states had pledged to help a non-nuclear weapon state to acquire nuclear-powered machinery, that is, submarines. That is a gross violation of the NPT as well as International Atomic Energy Agency rules.

According to researchers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the nuclear materials to be used to build the eight submarines would be enough to make 64 to 80 nuclear weapons.

All three AUKUS allies are signatories to the NPT, and yet they are undermining the treaty's authority and frustrating global efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. That's also why the international community-especially Australia's neighbors including Southeast Asian countries-are vehemently opposed to the tripartite deal.

The 10 ASEAN member states have been working to make Southeast Asia a nuclear weapons-free zone, just like the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, signed in 1985 and enforced in 1986, has shielded the South Pacific region against nuclear proliferation.

But Australia's nuclear-weapon ambitions have considerably increased security pressure on smaller countries in the region, because they fear the AUKUS deal will intensify the arms race. As a matter of fact, shortly after the nuclear-powered submarine deal was announced, the ambassadors of several ASEAN states in Beijing visited the Chinese Foreign Ministry to express their common concern over AUKUS. As for China, it has been opposed to the sub deal ab initio.

Despite former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison of the Liberal Party losing the parliamentary election and Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese taking over as prime minister in May, Australia is going ahead with the AUKUS plan, and has spared no efforts, along with the UK and the US, in sugarcoating the controversial submarine deal. In fact, Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles said in June that according to the previous government's plan, the subs would be delivered by the 2040s, but the new administration "will be looking at every option available to try and bring that time forward".

"I think bringing that time forward to eight years from now would be extremely optimistic," Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Marles as saying.

Preparing for the NPT review conference at the UN Headquarters in New York City, the three countries have drafted a working document to defend their submarine deal. According to an unedited draft released on the US State Department website in July, the three sides have agreed that "Australia would be provided with complete, welded power units". In order to justify the plan further, the document said the three countries are willing to allow greater scrutiny by the IAEA.

Such paradoxical narratives don't change the nature of the submarine deal. And no matter how desperately the three countries try to cover their dirty deal with a legal or moral garb, the fact is that they are engaged in transferring and receiving weapons-grade nuclear materials and violating the NPT. Aside from Australia and the UK, the buyer and the seller, the US' role in this nuclear proliferation case calls for greater global scrutiny of its track record in this field since the end of World War II.

In 1994, during the initial stages of the DPRK developing nuclear weapons, Washington and Pyongyang reached an agreement in Geneva on the latter freezing its nuclear weapons plan in exchange for the US helping the DPRK develop civil-use nuclear facilities.

But Washington went back on its words and halted assistance to Pyongyang in the following years, intensifying the nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Similarly, the Donald Trump administration's decision in 2018 to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed by Iran, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany in 2015, dealt a serious blow to global nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

While Washington has been behind a major nuclear weapon material trafficking deal before, the ongoing review conference in New York gives the international community a great opportunity to hold the three countries to account. No matter how far the conference goes in this regard, no country should sit idle watching the dirty tripartite nuclear submarine deal go on.

The international community should make its voice heard, expose the three countries' conspiracy, and maintain the world order and boost global strategic stability.


The author is a writer with China Daily.

If you have a specific expertise, or would like to share your thought about our stories, then send us your writings at [email protected], and [email protected].







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repairing ties…….


BY David Speers


It's 18 years since a Chinese ambassador last took up an invitation to appear at the National Press Club in Canberra. That was five ambassadors ago.

Two years ago, the deputy head of mission, Wang Xining, turned up to spar with Australian journalists. He was combative but could also make his point by quoting Shakespeare, and rarely went beyond the official party line. After all, he wasn't Beijing's top diplomat in town.

It's a long time since China's most authoritative voice in Canberra had agreed to front the press. Until yesterday.

Ambassador Xiao Qian didn't come with poetic quotes or clever lines that could be interpreted one way or another. This was raw and revealing.

In his prepared remarks, Xiao made a token effort to encourage further progress in repairing ties.

There were references to how "friendly" relations had been over the past 50 years. There were reminders of how much trade has grown (and how reliant Australia has become on China economically).

Once the questions began, however, it became very clear just how uncompromising China would be on the core issues causing such difficulty in the relationship, particularly the big one — Taiwan.

Hope for change … and a reality check

The change of government in Australia raised some hope of a relationship reset. The two countries' defence ministers met, followed by the foreign ministers. This was more dialogue than had occurred in years.

Then came Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan and a reality check.

China's extraordinary military reaction, involving ballistic missiles, fighter jets and warships, prompted condemnation from the United States, Japan, Australia and others. This, in turn, prompted condemnation from Beijing, urging everyone to butt out of its "internal" affairs.

At the Press Club podium in Canberra, Xiao defended the show of military might, saying Pelosi's visit had "compelled" China to respond.

He suggested the people of Taiwan wanted reunification with China, ignoring numerous opinion polls which he said were "misleading". Fake news, as Donald Trump might say.

China would use "all necessary means" to bring Taiwan back to the fold and "you can use your imagination" as to what that might involve. Of course, no-one really needs to use their imagination, after the military display of the past week.

In case there was any doubt, the ambassador said there was "no room for us to compromise" on Taiwan.

One of the most revealing moments came in response to a question about what would follow Taiwan's reunification with the mainland.

Once that happened, Xiao said: "There might be a process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China about the motherland."

A process to "correct understanding" sounds a lot like the "re-education" forced upon the Uyghur people, even if the ambassador rejected that particular phrase.

The differences run deep

On the detention of Australian citizens Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun, China's ambassador insisted "their basic rights are protected, so don't worry about that". Those "basic rights" apparently don't involve any transparency around the charges, trial or potential sentences facing the Australians. The Australian government remains deeply worried.

On the trade sanctions China has imposed on Australian exports, the ambassador preferred not to call them "sanctions", but he did signal some willingness to negotiate their removal, as long as Australia was willing to overturn its ban on Huawei.

There was a spray at the Australian media for not being more "positive" in its coverage of China, yet no sign Australian journalists would be allowed back into the country to report freely.

And there was no real attempt to explain why China was refusing to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine, given its repeated calls for everyone else to respect sovereignty. It's "complicated", was all the ambassador would offer.

Over the course of nearly 90 minutes on stage, Xiao made it clear why the relationship with Australia was so strained. The differences over Taiwan, trade, the detention of Australian citizens and Putin's actions in Ukraine are deep. There will be no easy resolution.

Back in 2004, the last Chinese ambassador to address the Press Club, Fu Ying, raised Beijing's concerns about any move towards independence in Taiwan, but wasn't talking about departing from the status quo. She certainly wasn't talking about forcing re-unification using "all necessary means".

And as for China's relationship with Australia at the time, Fu was optimistic "our two countries have no fundamental conflict of interest".

Much has changed in the 18 years between ambassadors turning up at the Press Club.

David Speers is the host of Insiders, which airs on ABC TV at 9am on Sunday or on ABC iview.








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media have a lot to answer for...




Australia’s mainstream media seem determined to scuttle a reset of Australia-China relations.

Chinese Ambassador’s Xiao Qian’s address to the National Press Club (NPC) on 10 August was friendly in tone and, I thought, suave and diplomatic in style. Yet in their questions the journalists in the audience seemed to me to go out of their way to emphasise that they just don’t trust anything the Chinese say and want to show them up as insincere, the word “chilling” prominent in their coverage. Of course, press freedom is a good thing. Does that imply a determination to embarrass Chinese representatives? I don’t think so. For failure so far of any reset in Australia-China relations, the mainstream media have a lot to answer for.

On Xiao Qian’s NPC address I happen to agree with Jocelyn Chey (P&I, 13 August) that “It was apparent that they [members of the Press] had come with prepared questions and were trying to engineer a quote for a headline news item” and she might have added that if the headline was hostile, so much the better. Xiao Qian went out of his way to say that he was making proposals, not demands, and to remind the audience that during the Wong-Wang meeting in Bali on 9 July, the Chinese version had used the term xiwang (hopes), not demands, as many in the Australian press described them, with even Prime Minister Albanese commenting coldly (on 11 July) that “Australia doesn’t respond to demands”.

Chris Uhlmann, currently of Nine News, made no attempt to hide his hostility, framing his question within statements designed to demonise China and embarrass the Ambassador. What struck me was that Xiao Qian was so composed and polite in his response. Uhlmann was one of the main journalists behind the June 2017 Four Corners programme that had spurred on the current wave of Sinophobia by targeting Chinese students as too compliant to Chinese government directives and stirring up trouble in Australian universities. His hatred of things Chinese appears to have grown since then.

Xiao Qian commented on media bias in Australia. He was very low-key in his manner and obviously trying to put forward the idea that Australian mainstream media emphasised the negative much more than necessary. I think he’s right. He did not frame change of this negativity as a “condition” for improvement of relations, or a “demand”. He spent most of his speech trying to emphasise the positive in Australia-China relations, the fifty years of comparative friendship, the trade record, the Chinese students and tourists coming to Australia. And it seems to me that it is indeed a good record and the Ambassador’s style was friendly.

But we know China’s approach to Taiwan, which is to regard it as a province of China and to include it in the very high priority adopted on national unity and sovereignty. That has been the case for many decades now and is not new.

Yet it still becomes the stick to beat China with. A particularly egregious example was on Sky News on 12 August, when Lawyer and pro-democracy activist Kevin Lam described the comments made by Chinese Ambassador at the National Press Club as “very mafia-like”. “It’s all delivering a chilling message with a smile on his face,” Mr Lam told Sky News Australia. “I think all of that is classic thug tactics.”

I regard that as a very unfair judgement. It seems as though whatever the Ambassador does or says will get him into hot water.

On 11 August, Senator Jim Molan, along with James Paterson noted for his unrelenting hostility to China, issued a statement, saying: “Following yesterday’s disgraceful address by the Chinese ambassador, I have today written to the @PressClubAust requesting that they refrain in the future from providing the CCP with a platform to spread its lies and misinformation, and to prosecute its evil agenda.” So for Senator Molan, the Chinese state is so horrible its ambassador should not even be allowed to put forward its point of view.

The ABC should be better than others. But even its representatives have been less than balanced.

On the Q&A programme the day after the Ambassador’s speech, there was quite a bit about China. But the line-up of panelists definitely had an anti-China bias. For instance, James Paterson, one of the members of the federal parliament most hostile to China, used his position on the panel to condemn China as a threat to Australia, but there were no panelists taking a directly opposite position.

The ABC’s Insiders Programme on Sunday 14 August included the virulently anti-China Peter Hartcher. Xiao Qian’s appearance was discussed, with words like “chilling” occurring frequently. Although Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was criticised as provocative, the main target for condemnation was China and I was left with the impression of a very dangerous and aggressive country with very threatening intentions.

Most Australian journalists have made no attempt to learn Chinese language or understand the Chinese culture or attitudes to life. They say it’s the Chinese Communist Party they oppose rather than the Chinese people. However, what’s striking to me now is how Chinese in general have swung behind their government against the West in general and the U.S. in particular. It is very clear that the push to understand China in the education system needs a big overhaul and, as a country, we need far more China-literate journalists and far better education in Chinese language, culture and history.

Probably the crucial issue in the present crisis is whether it is the United States that has changed the status quo over the last couple of weeks or China. Did Nancy Pelosi change the status quo through her visit to Taiwan early in August and through the speech she made there or was it China that changed the status quo through its reaction, which included military drills and practice for a blockade, as well as the rupture of certain links with the United States such as cooperation over climate change? My view is that it was the United States that sparked the crisis through allowing Pelosi to heap scorn, approaching mockery, on Chinese territorial integrity.

On 3 August, Pelosi accepted a major award from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. Referring to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, passed by the United States Congress, Pelosi said: “Forty-two years ago, America made a bedrock promise to always stand with Taiwan”. She continued, “On this strong foundation, we have built a thriving partnership grounded in our shared values of self-government and self-determination.” She also referred to Taiwan as a nation. It seems to me that this clearly implies a recognition of, and support for, Taiwan independence, which most certainly crosses China’s “red line” that insists on Taiwan as a province of China.

What irritated China most is that the United States and its partners, including Australia, many in Europe and Japan, heaped condemnation on China for its response, but barely noticed, and certainly did nothing to condemn, Pelosi’s action. I just don’t know how far it is legitimate to go in poking China in the eye for its insistence on its sovereignty, while defending Taiwan’s “values of self-determination”.

I believe the United States and, under its influence, the West and a few other countries, have been moving irrevocably towards supporting Taiwan independence. Some people frame it as democracy versus autocracy. But the Americans no longer care about or support China’s sovereignty. After all, a split country is less of a challenge to American hegemony, and that’s the issue that matters most to them. Of course, the Chinese still care very much indeed about Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity. With this clash of views, Chinese reunification is made that much more difficult and violence that much more likely. The mainstream press has been a more than willing partner in this change of opinion.

As Stephen FitzGerald said in his P&I article of 12 August with specific reference to Xiao Qian’s speech, but in my view more widely applicable: “We should be alarmed, if not ashamed, at how some of these journalists behaved and reported.” Meanwhile, the political situation in the United States is becoming increasingly divided, and even deteriorating in the direction of fascism. One wonders more and more whether it is safe for Australia to be an ally of such a country. We are entering a very dangerous world situation indeed. Politicians and media should be extremely careful how they tread.








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