Australia’s Cognitive Dissonance (What World Do They Think They Actually Live In?)

As an Australian citizen I am constantly bewildered by the antics of my nation’s government, which has all the appearances of having gone insane, lost the plot, has a few Kangaroos loose in the top paddock and have been carried away by delusions of their own grandeur. Do they really believe they can out-compete a nation like China for the favours of the ASEAN nations? Whatever is behind their recent lacklustre overtures to ASEAN, they will fail dismally.

“GT Voice: Australia’s empty gestures won’t hinder China-ASEAN ties” – Global Times – Oct 28, 2021

A few quotes from that GT article set the scene…

During Wednesday’s summit, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $154 million package to fund several projects across Southeast Asia, Australia’s ABC reported. While Australia has been hyping up the importance it attaches to ASEAN, the size of the funding package is surprisingly small…

…in March 2018, Australia and ASEAN agreed to establish a pipeline to support high-quality infrastructure projects in the region, which as of today has failed to produce a single project.

…it would be delusional for Canberra to believe deepening economic and trade cooperation with ASEAN members could counter China’s cooperation with the bloc.

GT –

The ASEAN nations, for their part, already know which side of their bread is buttered (not an entirely appropriate analogy for these times but I can’t think of a better)

According to ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute’s “State of Southeast Asia: 2021 Survey Report,” 49 percent of Southeast Asian elites view China as the region’s most influential political and strategic power compared to only 30 percent viewing the US as the region’s main power, a marked shift from a decade ago.

GT –

But it is to be hoped that the Australians already know that – otherwise all those epithets I listed above are all true. And if they do know that, why the empty gestures? Are they obliged to do ‘something’ as a result of their own ties? What a waste of effort – and at the same time an exposure of the frailty and imbalance of Australia’s position within global affairs.

GT offers Australia some very well chosen advice. Will it be heeded? As things stand, the chances of that happening are, I think, blowin’ in the wind…

Against growing ties between China and ASEAN, Australia would be wise to seize the unprecedented opportunity and join the cooperation, instead of being a troublemaker standing in the way of cooperation. If Australia cannot face up to the reality and prove its value of meeting the economic needs of ASEAN member states, it will end up being cut out of the regional supply chain.

GT –

[Deep sigh, for what may have been]

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