Hostility toward China affects Australia’s development

By Yan Yunming Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/3 20:38:40

Australia's ABC network reported Tuesday that the country's leading intelligence analyst Hugh White warned Australia to consider "whether or not to acquire nuclear weapons as part of a strategy to counter the rise of China."

Although "swiftly shut down" by Australia's Defense Minister Linda Reynolds, White's advice underscores how the "China threat theory" and anti-China sentiment have infiltrated Australian society.

This is not the first time that Canberra has picked on Beijing. It seems that certain people and institutions in Australia have been influenced by some sort of "China phobia," feeling anxious about almost everything involving China. Now, even nuclear weapons are taken into consideration to deal with China.

Politically, China has long been accused of seeking "clandestine influence" in Australia. Some even suspect that Chinese social media app WeChat has been used to intervene in Australia's elections. In terms of military, in response to China's rise, Australian forces "wind down their presence in Afghanistan and Iraq," and are "renewing their focus on Australia's island neighbors," according to the New York Times on June 11.

More importantly, in the international arena, Canberra has formed an alliance with Washington in recent years and launched several Cold War-type confrontations, venting its deep hostility toward China. 

The "China threat theory" hyped by some inside Australia seems to have worked. The 2019 Lowy Institute Poll released in June suggested that only 32 percent of Australian respondents trust China, the lowest in 15 years. Such hostility is pushing Beijing and Canberra, as well as the two peoples, further away.

But what good would it do Australia? The concerns and animosity can only expose certain Australian politicians' Cold War mentality and their wild ambition to vie for influence in the Asia-Pacific region, and eventually harm the nation.

China has followed the road of peaceful development. Take the nuclear issue concerns. As a nuclear power, China faithfully abides by its commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon countries and nuclear weapon-free zones under any circumstance. 

Can any other nuclear power meet such an undertaking? Australia should really be rest assured.

In addition, Australia and China are already intertwined in terms of economic cooperation. China has always been Australia's largest trading partner, largest exporter and source of imports. In 2017-18, Australia's total trade with China (A$194.6 billion, or $136.5 billion) was larger than Australia's total trade with the US and Japan (A$147.8 billion, or $103.6 billion) combined.

Hence, given its dependence on the Chinese economy, hostility toward China will only affect Australia's own economic development.

On May 6, Australia's former prime minister Paul Keating launched an attack on the nation's security agencies that "lost their strategic bearings" in their stance on Beijing, and warned that Canberra-Beijing ties must be "healed." 

Anti-China politicians in Australia should really listen to what Keating has said, stop the zero-sum game mentality and stop hyping the "China threat theory." It is cooperation rather than confrontation that will benefit a country's development.

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