Dan O'Heirity

China Has Diminished Itself in the Eyes of the World

I am now so disgusted by China that I am going to write something that I have not written for a long time. According to my preferred data source, there have been 63,589,725 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1,473,926 deaths across 218 countries and territories. China engaged in an act of biological warfare allowing its citizens to travel the world at a time when domestic flights in China had been stopped due to Covid-19. This act of biological warfare means that China has murdered 1,473, 926 people worldwide. China has used the pandemic to its advantage and is now increasingly arrogant and belligerent on the world stage. China is also punishing countries, Australia is a prime example, for going against the wishes of Beijing. In the case of Australia, China is imposing huge tariffs on Australian products and banning the import of other products. Just when I thought that China could not possibly be anymore obnoxious, a Chinese diplomate posted a doctored photo on Twitter of an Australia soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghanistan boy. The boy was holding a sheep. The backstory is that an investigation into the conduct of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan has found that 19 soldiers may be guilty of war crimes. Sky news has reported on China’s disgraceful actions in posting the photo and the report includes the response of Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.

Scott Morrison was brimming over with palpable anger but, according to ABC News, his response was measured. However The Guardian, which it is fair to say is a reputable newspaper, sees matters a little differently. First, The Guardian says that the image was no more offensive than the work of Australian graphic artists and cartoonists in the Australian media. No examples are given but, personally, I find it really difficult to imagine what could be more offensive than an image of a boy about to have his throat cut by a soldier. The Guardian also argues that the cartoon is pretty accurate as allegations of soldiers cutting two boys’ throats have been made. O.K. but facts are not the point. In reality China is trying to leverage the war crimes to their own advantage including telling Australia to hold the soldiers accountable. In a story from Nine News, the diplomat how tweeted the image included the text, “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts and call for holding them accountable“. Furthermore, Hua Chunying from the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said that Australia is reacting very strongly to the tweet and she asked, “Does that mean that they think the coldblooded murder of Afghans is justified? The Australian government should feel ashamed of this; they owe an explanation to the world and they should solemnly pledge such crimes will not be repeated“.

I can agree with The Guardian story that Australia is not blameless in the deterioration of relations with Beijing. However, let’s note a few black marks for China. First there’s the Tiananmen Square massacre. Then there’s the detention of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs. And let’s not forget the new security law imposed on Hong Kong which basically takes away all freedoms. Oh yes, and then there’s Beijing’s thinly veiled threats against Taiwan. I’m not even going to start on how Beijing monitors and controls its own people ensuring that the people conform absolutely and unquestionably to the will of Beijing. And if they don’t conform. Well, best case scenario is some prison time. Worst case scenario is a death sentence. These few facts about China should serve to highlight the utter absurdity of China believing that it has any moral authority to tell Australia what the country should be doing in the investigation of war crimes. Odd I know but the reason that China thinks it can callout Australia is that China believes that it should be respected by the world and listened to by the world. There is the arrogance once again. Beijing seems to be completely incapable of exercising any degree of criticality with respect to their own actions. This is because the only narrative in Beijing is that China is superior in every way to the West. God, they actually believe this to be the case.

So to the crux of the matter. According to The Conversation, China accounts for more than one third of Australia’s export dollars. It looks to me like China is betting that Australia’s trade dependency will ultimately mean that Australia will give in to Beijing’s wishes. This is an absurdity. Take a look at a list of China’s 14 grievances against Australia, grievances that China “demands” that Australia address. Here are some of the grievances.

  • Calls for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus
  • Siding with the United States “anti-China campaign”
  • Speaking out on China’s actions in the South China Sea
  • Speaking out on human rights allegations in Xinjiang

What does China imagine is going to happen here? Does Beijing really believe that the Australian government will take a look at the list and decide to, for example, stop calling for the independent inquiry into the origin and spread of Covid-19. Will Australia stopping speaking out on human rights atrocities in China? No, none of these things are ever going to happen. This fact makes it difficult to see how their might be a diplomatic solution to the significant decline in Australia’s relations with Beijing. It feels to me as though matters have gone too far and that Australia might have to make some difficult choices about severely restricting its trade dependency on China. This would be difficult, to say the least, but I cannot see how or why Australia would continue to trade extensively with China when Beijing has shown its true face to the world.

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