Australian relations with China’s authoritarian regime have deteriorated in recent months. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton added to the tensions when he hypocritically criticised China for ‘undemocratic conduct against Australian values’.
Despite China being Australia’s biggest trading partner, an Australian prime minister hasn’t visited Beijing since 2016.
As the US-China trade war escalates Australia’s ruling elite is increasingly siding with the US. A concerted propaganda offensive against China has been unfolding in much of the capitalist press for a number of years.
Retaliation from Beijing has followed. Annual Chinese investment in Australia halved in 2018. Threats and counter-criticisms are levelled at Australia in Chinese nationalist publications like The Global Times.
The entire Australian establishment is riven with divisions by the growing contradiction between Australia’s economic ties to China and its strategic alliance with the US. Universities, big business and the major political parties have all been mired in controversies linked to so-called ‘Chinese interference’.
While China’s imperialist ambitions drive it to intervene in other countries affairs, every imperialist power does the same. The US is deeply entrenched in Australia. It has military and spy bases, and networks of operatives in politics, business, academia and the military alongside powerful policy think tanks.
Australia’s ruling class worries that China has them ‘over a barrel’. That prompts intense debate about how the establishment positions itself in the widening conflict between the US and China.
Even ‘Kochie’, host of morning television show Sunrise, recently told Scott Morrison during a live interview that “If China gets narky with us, we go into depression. It’s as simple as that.”
The Australian mainstream press makes out that conduct by the misnamed Chinese Communist Party is a top threat for working class people in Australia. The result is growing racism against anyone who appears to be from China or East-Asia.
Reporting on China’s techno-surveillance state, mass internment of Muslim Uighur people in China’s west, and the brutal crackdown on Hong Kong democracy activists repels ordinary people in Australia.
But for the Australian establishment and their American allies to pose as champions of human rights and defenders of democracy is a sickening show of hypocrisy. Both the Australian and US government are guilty of many crimes similar to the Chinese regime.
Peter Dutton spearheads a racist immigration regime that imprisons and tortures refugees, who flee war and chaos sewn by US- and Australian-led wars. Dutton is also a chief organiser of anti-democratic laws and protest crackdowns.
Recently he said climate change protesters should be cut off from any welfare and face mandatory jail time. No doubt Chinese President Xi Jingping would approve.
On the other hand, Dutton personifies the attitude of Australia’s ruling class when money from China’s bosses is on the table. His Home Affairs department organises ‘fast track’ visa approvals and minimal customs checks for high roller clients of Melbourne’s Crown Casino that are flown in on private jets from China.
Recent video footage leaked by gambling inspectors shows cash-stuffed shopping bags being exchanged for gambling chips.
Industrial scale money laundering is allegedly taking place through the casino, assisted by the Australian state. Organised crime gangs, like those who are viciously attacking democracy protesters in Hong Kong for the Xi Jingping regime, are suspected to be involved.
Ordinary people in Australia are called on to support the Australian establishment’s campaign against China in the name of the ‘national interest’. But whose interests are really at stake, and who are the real enemies?
Socialists reject the nationalist scaremongering of the establishment. It is a false blame game, which only serves to distract from the real day-to-day issues like low wages and high housing costs. The main enemy on these questions are home grown Australian billionaires and their political representatives.
Both the Chinese and US capitalist regimes, along with their junior partners in Australia, are guilty of horrific crimes. Both pursue anti-democratic agendas, carried out in the interests of defending the profit-first system.
Instead of choosing one side as a false ‘lesser evil’, socialists fight to overcome racism and capitalism through the united struggle of working class people. We have more in common with ordinary Chinese workers than we do with the rich Australian capitalists that exploit and oppress us.
We need a democratic socialist system based on international cooperation and planning instead of vicious competition and chaos.
By Kirk Leonard