Robert Bond Director Citizens for Defence
CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE
China choice does not exist
Hugh White, professor of strategic studies, ANU, has answered ASPI’s Mark Thomson’s recent article on the “China Choice” in the ASPI Blog.
I am not surprised that most feed back to Hugh concentrates on the first option which is “America faces a serious challenge to its primacy in Asia from China”. The second and third options were ignored and read “America should respond to that challenge by trying to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement with China, rather than by competing with China for primacy or withdrawing from Asia. Third, Australia should encourage America to share power rather than take one of the other two options”.
Hugh presents as a true pacifist, an appeaser who would voluntarily give power to a communist country that runs over its citizens in tanks if they cry out for democracy in the hope that the country would abide by international law from then on and refrain from any more adventurous forays into other people’s sovereign territory or surrounds.
This has proven to be potentially a massive mistake almost from the time Hugh drew breath on the topic by China seeking to control great areas of the East China Sea and the whole of the South China Sea including island outcrops of most nations surrounding the sea. This is being enforced at present by China with military threats and several maritime police forces backed by the Chinese navy.
Then there are the nuclear powered submarines that are undoubtedly patrolling Australia’s northern waters and the recent military exercises carried out by a Chinese naval battle fleet in the waters surrounding Christmas Island. The Indonesians have been humiliated by the Chinese in a dispute over fishing rights and islands that are clearly in Indonesian territory. The Philippine government have taken China to a world court over similar Chinese bullying and intimidation over disputes about Philippine territory. One could go on with Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, to name a few who are in conflict with China.
Australia is in the cockpit of this Indo-Pacific turmoil being neighbours of Indonesia and close to the Philippines. We are intimately involved whether we like it or not. Our very survival as a nation is at stake over the long term and to suggest we have a choice between persuading the US to share power with China and backing the US wholeheartedly is academic claptrap.
Where does the sharing of power stop? What if, and it is almost a given, China wants more and more and just takes it like it is doing at present to our close neighbours?
Australia has to back the US to the hilt and we should be encouraging the other US allies in the Asian region to do the same. The one thought Hugh has got right is that the US could easily pull back to Hawaii and leave us to our own resources to face China. The US could defend its interests from there and save a great deal of money.
Our only chance for survival if this happened would be to quickly transform ourselves into a bigger Israel and the US might support us as a bulwark against the spreading of communism’s influence.
If Australia was wise it would immediately arm itself like Israel and if the worst happens be prepared to stand alone with US help.
There is no other way.