Dan O'Heirity

There Are Australians Who Remain Irredeemably Stupid

I went shopping today for items that I considered to be essential. In order of importance my shopping list ran as follows. Four packs of cigarettes, waffles, fresh juice, fresh milk, vanilla whipped cream and coffee. The supermarket was not particularly busy but people had clearly been panic buying. The fresh meat refrigerators were totally empty and the fresh produce section had been stripped bare. Thus my conclusion that people are utterly stupid. It is true that Victoria declared a state of disaster on Sunday night. However, it is also true that news reports were at pains to point out that supermarkets, bakeries, fresh fruit shops and butcher shops would all operate as normal.

People have not only been panic buying. They have, just as was the case with the the first wave of panic buying during the early stages of the pandemic, been rude to staff working in supermarkets. What can I say about these esurient individuals? Well, they are driven by emotion and not by reason and once a few of them start to panic buy others join for Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). One can only imagine what will happen should Victoria go into a stage 5 lockdown where, it has been conjectured, there may be restrictions on grocery shopping. I would predict fights in supermarkets over the last packet of meat. As for me, I could quite happily survive without shopping for a year and so, quite honestly, I just don’t care.

The Victorian Economy is Losing Millions of Dollars a Day Because Half a Dozen People Died in Aged Care Facilities

I really need you to pay attention to my next point. Yesterday 4th August, 2020 “The Guardian” reported that there had been 11 new deaths in Victoria. They were a man in his 70s, one man and three women in their 80s, two men and three women in their 90s and one woman in her 100s. Leaving aside the fact that I am incapable of having empathy or sympathy, we have seen 11 deaths in very old people who are amongst the age group susceptible to dying from Covid-19. Another way to put this is that we have seen so few deaths that we can actually specify the ages of the people who have died. Now look at this story, also from “The Guardian” which reports that Victorian builders could lose $450m daily under Melbourne stage 4 Covid-19 lockdown. That works out at around $40 million per death per day.

What’s more, we are only talking about one sector of the Victorian economy. The hospitality industry in Victoria is all but closed down and I can only imagine the combined losses resulting from the closures of restaurants, cafés, pubs and nightclubs. Sports centres and clubs have also been closed and, again, the loss in revenue must be quite staggering. My point. Really Victoria. The final cost to the Victorian economy is going to run into billions of dollars for a death rate that is negligible. And don’t tell me about what might happen should the virus run rampant because only 1% of all cases worldwide are in a serious or critical condition and the death rate from Covid-19 continues to fall. In this context, it is absolutely impossible to make sense of Victoria declaring a state of disaster and imposing a curfew on residents.

China is Pursuing an Aggressive Global Strategy

Today is not the day to go over ground that I have covered before on China’s increasingly aggressive global stance in the midst of the pandemic. If you’re interested in details, you can read an excellent article from “The Guardian” on Chinese global aggression along with a very detailed piece, again from “The Guardian“, on China’s crackdown in Hong Kong. The only point that I would note is that there were signals back in 2017 – and likely before – that China had aspirations on the global stage. Speaking at the the Chinese Communist Party’s five yearly national congress, and as reported by “The Guardian” Xi Jinping expressed that China would become the world’s leading country in terms of “national power and international influence”.

China’s actions in the South China Sea need to be watched in this respect. The same is true of China’s clashes with Indian Troops long the Line of Actual Control that separates China from India. From one perspective, there is nothing new about what China is doing in these two regions. China has a long history of trying to claim ownership of waterways and land masses in the South China Sea. There is also a history of confrontation in the border area between China and India. If there is a difference now, then it might be found in the fact that China is now taking on the world whilst “stoking” a sense of nationalism and patriotic fervour amongst its citizens. If you follow the line of argument in “The Guardian” article then fuelling nationalism brings with it the silencing of dissenting voices.

What Exactly is Going on With China and India Along the Line of Actual Control

The clash between China and India at the border region – a region that has been contested for decades – has always intrigued me because I wondered why forces from the two armies have been engaging one another with iron rods and stones as opposed to just shooting one another. The reason for the use of the iron rods and stones is historical. In the context of clashes that go back to the 1960’s, China and India signed an agreement in 1996 which included a statement to the effect that neither side would use its military capabilities against the other along the Line of Actual Control. Thus, obeying the stipulation of the treaty if not the spirit the treaty, the two sides have used iron rods and stones in their confrontations. Despite talks between China and India to de-escalate the situation, it would appear that both sides are amassing equipment and troops along the border in the Akasi Chin region of occupied Tibet ahead of the onset of the northern winter.

Beyond my intrigue with the troops not just shooting one another, I have always wondered why a border line that runs through inhospitable mountainous regions is so important to both countries. It could be that China is simply trying to secure its borders but one would have to ask what has prompted this action. Does China fear an Indian invasion? It could also be that China is concerned with securing the source and course of rivers that run from Ladakh as these sources provide water supplies for the region below. However, does China really fear that the Indians might dam up the rivers? Perhaps the region is strategically important to China in terms of line of sight into Indian territory. Again, I do not really know and shall engage in some further research. For now the worry is that conflict along this border is just one aspect of China’s aggressive territorial strategy around the world.

On one reading of an “ABC News” story Australia, the Australian High Commissioner in New Delhi, may have indicated support for India in the confrontation with China saying that, “As I told the External Affairs Minister of India [on Thursday], Australia opposes any attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo, which only serve to increase tension and the risk of instability“. If so, this will do nothing to improve Australia-China relations which are at an historic all time low. China’s reaction to the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) was, shall we say, less than positive particularly as Australia and America have agreed to create a “defence co-operation framework to counter Chinese military aggression“. China’s Global Times, which is a mouth piece for the Chinese Communist Party, said that Australia would likely experience “unbearable consequences” for siding with America against China.

Honestly, it’s worth reading the whole article just to have a laugh at the pigeon English. Writing about Australia’s decision not to join the US in military manoeuvres in the South China Sea, the Global Times reports that, “By not committing to patrols, Australia believes it will not overly stimulate China”. Really, “overly stimulate”. The phrasing makes one think of something that might happen during sexual relations. Why doesn’t Beijing have a native English Speaker proof read these articles before they publish them? Or perhaps, someone Chinese who has a more contemporary knowledge of the English language. After all, there are Chinese who have graduated from some of the best universities around the world and who are more than proficient in speaking and writing English. On the other hand, perhaps I am missing a point about translating Chinese meaning into English. Perhaps the article reads exactly as Beijing wishes it to read.

First Published August 16th, 2020

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