Inconsistent Consistency

‘Consistency’ is a well worn word in Australian political life. One might even say it is a worn out word through consistent and over-frequent usage by government spokespersons as a position statement of their own actions.

The claim of ‘Consistency’ is again trotted out as being Australia’s position in the ABC News report below, which covers a recent Chinese decision to bar the import of Australian coal, citing a Global Times report (which I also link to further on).

“China’s The Global Times appears to confirm a ban on Australian coal imports amid perilous trade tensions” – Australia ABC News

That may not have been seen as a valid criticism were it not the fact that the claimed consistency has been a misused cover for the sort of inconsistency in Australian government policy outbursts that have turned a normally calm, even placid China, as chief trading partner to Australia, into a frustrated and I suppose quietly angered regional neighbour no longer so much interested in the previously agreed business arrangements that have fed the inter-nation relationship for many years now.

Just to be clear, Australia’s attitude to China over recent years has been anything but consistent and even at the best of times was subject to the occasional sniping and catcalling of obliquely differing and loudly expressed government geo-political views. Australia could easily have managed its China relationship much more respectfully and diplomatically than it has chosen to do. And China, for its part, has long suffered Australian barbs (while shrugging them off like water off a ‘Peking’ duck’s back) in order to cement a friendship which was only ever going to be one-sided in Australia’s favour. All this while China gathered the resources it much needed during its nation building phase. These resources are no longer so important, and so China no longer needs to remain a docile partner taking Aussie shit sandwiches in its stride. China can, and is, asserting itself. Quite justifiably in my view. A situation Australia is now experiencing to its cost. It didn’t have to be this way. But this is the inevitable outcome, and Australia – the antagonist – will just have to wear it.

Has Australia burned its bridges? That remains to be seen, but its other major partnership is looking just as rocky. The US, on which Australia has relied for security in the past, is now suffering the results of its own hubris, is sinking under the weight of accumulated debt and social impoverishment, and is beginning to show the signs of becoming a banana republic which could soon be sliced and diced – ending its ‘reign of terror’ over the wider world. What then for Australia’s security and backed up bravado? In fact what now, not what then, for that falsely claimed and threadbare security blanket?

Security issues, trade issues. The immediate future is not looking so rosy for Australia.

As for the Global Times, I personally find that media outlet has become one of my trusted sources of global news in recent times. It provides rational and sensible assessment of many important issues within and outside of China and is always polite and respectful of issues affecting other nations. I wish the same could be said of Australian media, whether ‘government owned’ or not.

Here’s a quote from and link to the Global Times report mentioned earlier:

“China planned to reduce 100 million tons of coal consumption annually by 2030 to finally accomplish its carbon-neutral goal before 2060, which means fading demand in the coal market. An absence of Australian coal in China is actually beneficial to all other market suppliers,” said Wang (emphasis mine)

Wang Yongzhong, director of the Institute of Energy Economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

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“China extends full open gesture to imported coal except for Australia” – Global Times

And, just for good measure, here is a Global Times perspective on the general outlook of Australian government policy. As expected, I can find nothing disagreeable or invalid in this report, but much for which the Australian government could usefully turn its thoughts – instead of resorting to vain and inglorious attempts to spank China.

“Listing China ‘the biggest issue’ shows Oz politicians’ disorientation” – Global Times

Below, for your convenience, is the full text of that article. See what I mean?

Some Australian politicians have again shown how ignorant and ridiculous they can be. 

Barnaby Joyce, a member of the Australian Parliament for New England, said on Monday that “the biggest issue” facing his children’s and grandchildren’s “lifetime” is not climate abatement, but “how they live in a world where China is a superpower and is not a liberal democracy.” 

China has promised to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Australia, however, not only refuses to fulfill its obligations on the international stage, but is even stuck in the old West-centered mind-set. Joyce claimed that “we have to get our priorities right,” but he has got it all wrong by labeling China, rather than climate abatement, as Australia’s so-called biggest issue. This is an irresponsible act for his children and grandchildren.

Why are Australia and other Western countries so obsessed with the so-called China threat theory? Because they cannot let go of their Cold War mentality. They believe the political systems of China and the West cannot coexist. 

Thus, they have launched an ideological attack on China, trying to maintain Western hegemony. These Western politicians understand that Chinese and Western values are not incompatible, but deliberately exaggerate the disputes in values, as if they can stand higher on the moral high ground.

China has been Australia’s largest trade partner in the past years, yet some Australian politicians like Joyce regard China as the country’s top issue. Australian politicians have shown their collective disorientation.

Australia has been very active in serving as the US’ lap dog and attacking China. Clamoring for democracy, freedom and human rights, Australia has brought chaos and atrocities to Afghanistan. Its hypocrisy is obvious. 

But when it comes to shouldering responsibility on the global stage, Australia is not so active. It has turned a blind eye to the climate threat faced by mankind. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was denied a speaking spot during the Climate Ambition Summit on Saturday for the country’s lack of ambition. Australia has not fulfilled its commitments under the Paris Agreement. In terms of reducing carbon emissions, Australia’s gap with other countries is widening fast.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called on all leaders to declare a “state of climate emergency” in their countries until carbon neutrality, but Joyce still believes Morrison “should not agree to a zero net emissions policy despite global and opposition pressure.” 

This is open opposition to most countries’ consensus. Being left far behind in terms of climate abatement, Canberra still has a ton of excuses to not fulfill its obligations. China, as well as most countries, has long jumped out of the Cold War mind-set. China has focused on the more far-reaching framework of building a community with a shared future for humanity. Yet, Australia is still babbling about its ideology and values, exaggerating ideological disputes between China and the West. This is pure retrogression. 

Australia has suffered from devastating wildfires in recent years, which have had a serious impact on the climate. Now, a bushfire is again haunting the country, burning more than half of the UNESCO world heritage-listed Fraser Island. Australia needs to stop fixing its eyes on China and avoid spreading the fire.

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