China Continues to Try Bully Australia and the Rest of the World
I have written many times on the fact that China acts as a bully when it does not get its way and Australia is a clear case in point. There is a fascinating article in the South China Morning Post that takes a look at how Australia has become dependent on its trading partnership with China and how China is now using that dependency to punish Australia for the temerity of pushing for an open inquiry into the origins and spread of Covid-19. The article notes, quite rightly, that domestic flights from Wuhan were cancelled but international flights continued. China sent the virus around the world. That point aside, the article makes a very prescient point. I shall quote in full.
The Aussies have forgotten that a diversified client base and not relying on one client is the only free lunch. When 98 per cent of Perth’s lobsters, 70 per cent of Aussie timber, 68 per cent of its barley and 65 per cent of wheat exports go to one client, it reveals a lazily made recipe for disaster.
Australia made exactly the same mistake with its Higher Education sector with every major university depending on international cash cow students from China and India in order to be financially viable. The international market is currently decimated and Beijing has indicated that it will be “advising” students not to study in Australia. The Australian Higher Education sector has been as lazy as the trade sector.
The South China Morning Post article also has something very interesting to say on a military alliance that is forming to patrol “Asia’s Oceans”. In this respect, there is a new group referred to as the “Magnificent Seven” who are working together. The group comprises of: the US Seventh Fleet, the Japanese MJSDF, the Australian Navy, French navy, HM Royal Navy, the Vietnamese Navy, and the Deutsche Marine. The move by Germany’s Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to join the group with a ship patrolling in the Indian ocean does not mean much in military terms. However, as reported by ABC News, the move is symbolically significant as Germany does have a trade reliance on China and yet Germany is sending a very clear message to Beijing that Chinese values are out of alignment with Western values. The other point of interest here, as reported by ABC News, is that this aligned military presence will have a big focus on the South China Sea region where China has “illegally” claimed islands as belonging to them and where China has created new artificial islands in order to have a military presence in the area. With so much going on, I do wonder if Trump will be tempted to start something in the South China Sea.
Victoria Endured One of the Harshest Lockdowns in the World
It is true that Victoria and particularly Melbourne endured one of the toughest lockdowns in the world. It is only in the last few weeks that Melbourne residents have been able to return to a life that is at least something like normal. Indeed, such was the toughness of the lockdown that I was of the opinion that Victoria’s premier, often referred to as Chairman Dan because of his close ties with China, was in fact taking his lockdown advice from China. Seriously. The draconian nature of the lockdown including a night time curfew, just struck me as being far more Chinese than Australian. Whether or not Chairman Dan was taking advice from the Chinese will of course never be known. What we do know is that another Australia state has imposed a “brutal six-day lockdown” due to a small Covid-19 cluster. Basically the state has been shut down and only one person will be able to leave the home once a day to shop for groceries and medical supplies. That’s it. People are not even allowed to leave their homes in order to exercise. The rationale is that this strain of the virus is much more virulent than previous strains and so a hard lockdown is essential. I’ve just accessed the Government of South Australia Covid-19 website and the figures are utterly ridiculous with respect to the actions that have been taken. Live data reports that there have been 549 confirmed cases, a figure which excludes 5 new cases today. Overall, 511 people have recovered. There are 34 active cases with 1 person in hospital. So, nothing to see really and yet people are, once again panic buying, with huge queues at supermarkets and empty shelves. I’d recommend following the link to watch the video of human stupidity.
There is rather odd dimension to this story. Just about everyone in Australia knows that the so-called second wave of Coronavirus in Victoria broke out because the quarantining of people returning from overseas happened in hotels where security guards were used. These guards were not properly trained and contracted Covid-19 which they then spread in their communities. The rest is history. So, to the oddness. Australian news has reported on how the virus is believed to have been spread in Adelaide, Victoria. As far as I can tell, a security guard working at a quarantine hotel visited a pizza bar. That security guard infected a security guard who was working at another quarantine hotel. So, security guards again. This fact has prompted one reporter to suggest that security guards should be tested daily for Covid-19 and that the practice of security guards working in multiple locations should be reviewed. South Australia finds itself with a massive contact tracing exercise that includes identifying everyone who visited the pizza bar between the 6th and 16th November. So, that’s a ten day period. Call me cynical, but imagine how many thousands of people have come into contact with the pizza bar customers over a ten day period and then make a judgement whether you think contact tracing is going to be successful. My final point. Is Australia really going to close down each time a small cluster of Covid-19 cases emerges? If so, what hope for economic recovery or for small businesses in 2021? And what about our mental health.
First Published November 18th, 2020