Covid-53

Dan O'Heirity

The Covid-19 Pandemic May Really Be About the Emergence of New World Order

Yesterday I reviewed the main ideas that I have presented over the past three months or so. Today I am simply going to sift through stories, as one does when one researches, in order to see if there is anything new that fits with what has already been presented. I also want to see whether any new lines of inquiry suggest themselves. If I have a direction in mind, then it is most likely to pursue the idea that there really is a deeper story to the Covid-19 pandemic. My feeling is that whilst the surface reporting concerns itself with Covid-19 cases and fatalities, something else is at play beneath the surface events. This “something else” seems to have to do with power relations that are playing out around the world as countries being to position themselves in relation to China and in relation to one another. Countries are attempting to distance themselves from China whilst at the same time banding together as new alliances are formed. I haven’t quite got it straight in my head yet. That time will come. Overall, perhaps, the story that I am seeking to tell is one of how the Covid-19 pandemic is, perhaps, being “manipulated” as countries seek to position themselves in a new world order.

How Will Covid-19 Impact on Trump’s Chances of Being Re-elected?

Very early on in these journal entries I noted a story suggesting that the timing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus suited China because it had the potential to undermine Trump’s campaign to be re-elected as the President of the United States. The inference in the story was that China might have deliberately unleashed the virus upon the world in order to undermine Trump’s chances of being re-elected. Today there is a news story that reports how the impact of the CCP virus in the United States has indeed undermined what might have been some of the core tenets of Trumps campaign. For example, there was a time when Trump may have campaigned in terms of the robust state of the United States economy. That time is no more. A second story reports on staggering unemployment figures in the United States, rivalling those of the Great Depression. Back to the first report which suggests that without a positive story to tell the American public about his Presidency, Trump may well revert to previous campaign tactics by invoking xenophobia and racism to rally America in his favour.

Apparently there is some doubt about whether that tactic will work a second time around, particularly as Trump’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States would not hold up to close scrutiny. For example, in late February Trump was telling America that everything was under control in the United States and that there was nothing to worry about with the virus. Here we are in late April and the United States has reported over 1000,000 confirmed cases of the CPP virus with nearly 60,000 fatalities. That’s a tough story to spin even for Trump’s administration. And then, of course, there is the recent story of Trump suggesting at a news conference that injecting oneself with disinfectant might be a way to treat the virus. Unfortunately injecting yourself with disinfectant is a pretty sure way to kill yourself and manufacturers of disinfectant have been scrambling to warn people not to inject themselves with the substance. Trump’s own Environmental Protection Agency has also warned people not to inject themselves with disinfectant.

It is Becoming Clear That China is Enacting an Aggressive Global Domination Strategy

Whether or not China was thinking about Trump’s Presidential campaign as they unleashed the CCP virus upon the world, leaders, journalists and reporters do seem to be waking up to the fact that China has been playing a “long-term” game with the world, a fact mentioned in this news story which also relates points that I have made multiple times in these blog posts about the fact that China has been seeking to infiltrate the Australian government, Australian businesses and Australian Universities. There are around 1,000,000 people / 5% of the Australian population who identify with having a Chinese heritage. These people are collectively referred to as the Chinese diaspora. This means that there is no shortage of Chinese Australians for the CCP to try to “cultivate” as “assets” who might seek to insert themselves, for example, in governmental positions with the aim of influencing Australian politics. This is not the stuff or paranoia or conspiracy theory. Rather, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)  along with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation have both expressed serious concerns about Chinese infiltration of all aspects of Australian life.

China is manoeuvring to establish a presence in the Asia Pacific region and is directing its attention in particular to the South China Sea which has multiple islands and “underwater entities” with disputed ownership. I would encourage you to watch this video which shows, I believe, navy warships in the South China Sea.

I don’t know if these are the actual ships from the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and other ASEAN Countries that have been deployed in South China Sea. However, ultimately I am not sure that it really matters whether or not these are the actual ships because the video has the desired impact which is to drive home the reality of the increasingly confrontational nature of relations between China and the rest of the world. The fact that China has given islands in this region Chinese names – a story reported by me a couple of days ago – is one thing. It something entirely different when China starts to send vessels into the South China Sea in order to “bully” countries in those regions. It is also a very different thing when countries from around the world respond with a “show of force”.

Australia-China Relations Are Rapidly Deteriorating

A few days ago I mentioned that the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) in Australia has set the dollar value for scrutinizing overseas investments in Australia to zero dollars. Essentially this means that every Chinese investment proposal for Australia would be heavily scrutinised by the FIRB. Today I am pleased to be able to report that Australia’s federal government has banned a second Chinese mining investment in the country’s mineral sector, an investment that would have given the Chinese company a 12% stake in the mining investment. The planned mine was located in Central Africa which makes the ban even more pleasing because it demonstrates that Australia is focussing its efforts to curtail Chinese investment in Australia beyond Australia’s borders. However, the Chinese company involved will still have to be watched as it seeking for different ways to invest in the mining project.

China of course is not going to sit idly by as Australia acts in Australia’s best interests and, in the case of a call for an independent inquiry into what went on in China at the outbreak of the pandemic, when Australia joins forces with the world to hold China to account. In fact, in this story, the Chinese Ambassador in Australia makes some pretty thinly veiled threats about what will happen in Australia should Australia continue to push for an independent inquiry into the CCP virus outbreak.

These threats include telling us that if Australia is not a friendly place then Chinese tourists might have second thoughts about coming to Australia and parents might have second thoughts about sending their “kids” to study in Australia. The Ambassador goes on to mention that China might take a look at exports of Australian beef and wine to China. I get the economic implications for Australia but I bet I am not the only one thinking hurrah, less Chinese tourists in Australia and less Chinese students. As for the threat around Australia’s exports of beef and wine, well let the Chinese eat their own beef or if they can’t get beef then maybe they’ll want to go and shop in the wild and exotic animal markets because that’s worked out really well form them of late.

China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” May Be in a Bit of Trouble

China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” – “a project that is “made up of a “belt” of overland corridors and a maritime “road” of shipping lanes” has run into some serious problems. Whilst the project might initially have been thought of in terms of China setting up trade routes around the world – albeit with ulterior motives – the project is now a kind of catch all term that covers all aspects of China’s engagement across the world. The first key point here – which I have covered in other stories – is that China is offering loans to poor countries, Sri Lanka for example, and when the countries can’t repay the loans China seizes assets, a port in the case of Sri Lanka. This strategy has been referred to as China’s “debt-trap strategy” for expanding its power and influence around the world. Essentially, China offers loans to these countries – likely in the full knowledge that the countries will not be able to repay the loans – and when the countries default China seizes assets in lieu of repayment.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative should be of serious concern to the world because, “Earlier this year, the Center for Global Development found eight more Belt and Road countries at serious risk of not being able to repay their loans” meaning that China could swoop in and claim assets in lieu of the loan repayments. Imagine if China continues to be successful with this strategy. How many ports might China eventually own and how many of these ports would be strategically significant in terms of their placement along shipping routes? Whilst China would want us to believe that it has the world’s best interests at heart – what a joke – there is always the potential that China could move troops into countries where it has seized ports in order to set up military bases around the world. And, as I have argued in other journal entries, China can also exert a significant amount of “soft power and influence” if it manages to establish Chinese communities in even more countries and locations around the world.

There is a report from “Forbes” which provides an astute perspective on what has happened with the Belt and Road Initiative to date. Granted, the report is titled, “How China’s Belt And Road Became A ‘Global Trail Of Trouble” but the report does start off positively by suggesting that the Belt and Road Initiative might, for example, have lessened Asia and Africa’s “infrastructure gap” thereby “creating a true multi-polar global power structure” and, perhaps new economic prosperity for these regions. However, the article points to China partnering with countries with “junk credit ratings” which, in the case of Sri Lanka, mentioned above, meant that “China eventually seized a 70% share of the deep sea port at Hambantota for 99 years for $1.12 billion.” Although China got the port, other countries – Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sierra Leone – have become wary of Chinese loans and have opted to cancel or downsize their loans from China.

Almost inevitably with an initiative led by China, the Belt and Road Initiative has seen multiple scandals, financial irregularities and cases of Chinese companies offering bribes to key stakeholders, something which has resulted in a loss of support for the Initiative. In this respect it is tempting to say that China has tried to export its morally bankrupt and degenerate way of doing business to the world and that China has fallen on its face as a result of so doing. I know people will consider this statement to be unfair because not all Chinese business operate unethically. However, it is too often the case that we see examples of corruption in Chinese business dealings. Furthermore, there have been far too many reported cases in Australia of Chinese Australians seeking to exercise influence in the Australian parliamentary system through bribes and through dubious cash donations to political parties. Then there is the case of the the Australian MP Gladys Liu who has become mired in controversy over financial improprieties and her alleged ties to the CCP.

If the Belt and Road Initiative was in trouble before the CCP unleashed its virus upon the world, it is in even more trouble now. For example, this story reports a number of factors impacting Belt and Road Projects, including travel restrictions meaning key personnel and workers cannot travel to the countries where they are needed along with the breakdown of supply chains meaning that Belt and Road projects cannot get the materials that are required. Then there is the fact that multiple projects have simply failed to come to fruition. Worse still, in some cases, the initial stages of failed projects have wreaked havoc on local ways of life. I would suggest that you read this article on the failed Melaka Gateway project which makes a number of very interesting points. The project was touted by the Chinese in terms of delivering a cosmopolitan sea port complete with hotel complexes, shopping malls, theme parks and a cruise ship terminal.

As of early 2020 there has been no real development Melaka Gateway project and serious questions have been asked whether the port would, in any case, ever have been financially viable given the fact of multiple other ports in close proximity in Malaysia. There is an oddity here because the Melaka Gateway development would have progressed China’s aim to secure ports on Malaysia’s East and West coasts, along with a rail link that was intended to connect them, something which would have enabled China to control an alternative trade route to the Strait of Malacca where transport is dominated by Singapore. The Chinese have not succeeded in this respect and one wonders whether the failure is the result of gross stupidity on the part of the Chinese. What made them think the project could succeed with other ports in such close proximity to the Melaka Gateway project?

The case of a Belt and Road Project in Montenegro to construct a highway between the Adriatic Sea and Serbia has characteristics similar to the Melaka Gateway project in as much as there have been financial scandals – a ruling party politician filmed taking an envelope containing 100,000 Euros for example – and it seems questionable whether the project is financially viable with two international consortiums deciding ahead of China’s involvement that their feasibility study showed the need for 22,000 cars a day to make use of the road with the expected number being around 6,000 cars a day. There is also a similarity with the Sri Lankan Port incident in as much as collateral for the loan includes coal mines, ports and railroads all of which could come under the “ownership” of China should Montenegro default on its loan. Again there is an oddity here. Were the Chinese so stupid that they ignored feasibility studies or did they have an ulterior motive for engaging with the project?

Australia Has Prostituted Itself to China and is Now Paying the Price

I have written quite extensively on the current situation in Australia with universities that focussed far too heavily on international students, particularly Chinese students, as core to their market and to their sustainability. This market has now imploded and all universities in Australia, including the university at which I work, are facing losses in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 2-3 years, a fact which has meant engaging in austerity measures such as stopping all non-essential investment, cutting the number of courses on offer and laying off thousands of employees. The other point that I have made in respect to Chinese international students is that they make up an absolutely disproportionate number of international students at our universities. In this respect we should be concerned on a number of fronts including the extent to which students remain loyal to the CCP and the fact that visa schemes can put these students on a pathway that will then allow them to bring their families into Australia.

According to the 2016 Census Australia had a population of 1,213,903 people who identified with having a Chinese ancestry which represented a rise of 0.8% over the 2011 Census figure of 866,208 people identifying with a Chinese ancestry. Again according to the 2016 Census there 509,555 people in Australia identified as being born in China, a rise of 0.7% over the 2011 Census figure of 318,969. The category of people identifying with having some Chinese ancestry is a container figure that would include those Chinese in Australia who were born in China and so the total number Chinese in Australia is 1,213,903 representing 5.187% of the population. The international student market in Australia is worth $35 billion dollars and the Chinese student market constitutes 40% of that figure so somewhere around $15 billion comes from Chinese students.

In terms of students numbers around 400,000 international students were enrolled in Australian Universities in 2018 – meaning that around 1.7% of the population in Australia is made up of international students – and one third of those students came from China giving a figure of 132,000 Chinese students. Given these figures, it is clear that Universities have engaged in poor management practices and they only have themselves to blame as they cut back on courses and cut staffing to offset the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost fees from their international students which includes a very significant proportion of Chinese students. These poor management practices include “putting all their eggs in one basket” – the international student market – and failing to have any risk management strategy in place. This much is obvious because cutting courses and sacking staff is not the enactment of a risk management strategy. Rather, it is a reaction to a disaster.

The news article also points to the Australian reliance on Chinese tourism with 1.4 million Chinese visitors travelling to the Australia in 2017/18 and spending an estimated $11.2 billion. It would seem uncontroversial to say that Australia is not going to see any revenue from Chinese tourists in 2020 which means a loss to the economy of $11.2 billion dollars or thereabouts. I would conjecture that it is also doubtful that we will see anything like the revenue from 2017/2018 in 2021 as I just can’t imagine that international borders will be open in 2021. Even if borders to re-open, China has made it clear that its citizens may well be “discouraged” from visiting Australia. Whilst the tourist economy would then lose another $11.2 million, I would see this as an opportunity for Australia to re-think its over-reliance on Chinese tourism because current circumstances have shown that China will use its economic clout to bully and intimidate Australia.

So I guess overall my point is that Australia has allowed itself to become severely exposed to China across a range of different sectors including the tertiary education sector and the tourism sector. China is now using this position to threaten Australia through, for example, having their Chinese Ambassador in Australia spell out how China could punish Australia.

I would, therefore, ask, “If not now then when?” in terms of Australia waking up and manoeuvring to get it itself out of its position of complete dependency on trading goods and services with China. What would China actually have to do, short of bombing Australia, for Australia to wake up to the fact that China does not see Australia as a trading partner. China sees Australia as a country to be bullied into conforming to the will of Beijing and when Australia does not conform, the country is punished. It is time for Australia to tell China “enough” and to reconfigure its economy to remove the over reliance on trade with China.

First Published April 27th, 2020

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