White Paper reveals Australia’s anxiety

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/23 22:48:40

Australia issued its new Foreign Policy White Paper on Thursday. With the three words, "Opportunity, Security, Strength" on its cover, it then opens with a blunt assessment: "Powerful drivers are converging in a way that is reshaping the international order and challenging Australia's interests." "The United States has been the dominant power in our region throughout Australia's post-World War II history. Today, China is challenging America's position." The White Paper asserts US predominance into the near future and a deepening of the US-Australia alliance.

The White Paper envisages China's GDP doubling by 2030. It states that Australia and China have "different interests, values and political and legal systems" and suggests Australia expand strategic relations with other countries, including a security dialogue with the US, Japan and India.

Although the White Paper stresses the importance of China-Australia ties, people can sense the wariness toward China.

Australia is geographically distant from China, but it has been trying to get involved in the disputes that China has with its neighboring countries. It has called on the US to play a balancing role and incited China's neighbors to adopt a tough attitude toward China.

Chinese students and visitors bring huge sums of money to Australia every year. China is also the main buyer of Australian minerals and beef. Yet, criticism of China from Australian officials and biased reporting against China in Australia's media continues.

Australia calls itself a civilized country, but its behavior is confusing. While it is economically dependent on China, it shows little gratitude. Being on the periphery of the Western camp, it has often tried to meddle in Asian affairs on behalf of the West.

Australia's anxiety is fully revealed in this White Paper. Europe is grappling with its own affairs, and US President Donald Trump is retracting US' foreign strategy. Affected by China's rise, Australia has adopted a narrow-minded mentality toward this trend. As the US government welcomes China's peaceful rise, Canberra continues with its negative attitude.

Australia is difficult to be reasoned with or be comforted. Fortunately, the country is not that important and China can move its ties with Australia to a back seat and disregard its sensitivities.

Australia, with its limited strength, cannot sustain an influential foreign policy white paper. The newly released paper will neither evoke ASEAN countries nor affect Washington.

For Beijing, the anxiety of the Australians shows how difficult it is for China's soft power to ascend. The rise of any major power will cause discomfort among other countries. This is not China's problem, but a reality China needs to face.

China must handle its relations with Asian neighbors well. It should be capable of managing and resolving neighborhood disputes. The benefit that China's development can bring to its neighboring countries should outweigh their concerns toward China's rise.

Australia after all is not part of the Asian continent. China should prepare both a friendly face and a cold shoulder.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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