Ambassador Cheng Jingye has done Australia a great service. He has taken off the mask.
China’s ambassador has shown us the true face of the Chinese government’s feeling for Australia.
The Chinese Communist Party for years has been working systematically to undermine Australia’s sovereignty. To “take over” our political system, in the words of Australia’s former national security adviser and ASIO chief, Duncan Lewis.
But the Chinese regime always kept the smiling mask of friendship in place. President Xi Jinping told Australia’s Parliament in 2014 that the two countries should “be harmonious neighbours who stick together in both good times and bad times”.
Well, the bad times are now upon us, courtesy of the made-in-China pandemic. And what has China’s official representative in Canberra done? Ambassador Cheng has openly threatened Australia with trade boycotts.
Why? Because Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week dared to suggest an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. “The Chinese public is frustrated, dismayed and disappointed with what Australia is doing now,” Cheng said in an interview with The Australian Financial Review’s Andrew Tillett, published on Monday.
“If the mood is going from bad to worse, people would think, ‘Why should we go to such a country that is not so friendly to China? The tourists may have second thoughts.
“The parents of the students would also think whether this place which they found is not so friendly, even hostile, whether this is the best place to send their kids here.
“It is up to the people to decide. Maybe the ordinary people will say, ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?'”
Cheng said that it was a political move in league with the US: “So what is being done by the Australia side, the proposition is a kind of teaming up with those forces in Washington and to launch a kind of political campaign against China.”
He said the idea of an inquiry was “dangerous”. His overall position is foolish. But his claim that the proposed inquiry could be “dangerous” is just hilarious. Who’s the dangerous actor here?
Is it China? The country whose reckless indifference to public health again inflicted a zoonotic plague on the world, so far infecting 3 million people and killing more than 200,000 in 210 countries? Or is it Australia, for suggesting an inquiry?
And if Cheng thinks the idea of an inquiry might be dangerous to China’s authorities, it suggests the Beijing regime has a lot to hide.
As for the foolishness of Cheng’s position, it’s threefold. First, he’s been foolish enough to expose the reality of Beijing’s intentions towards Australia. The CCP seeks dominance, through any means possible. This has long been the reality of the Xi regime. I recounted examples of China’s economic coercion against 11 countries in my Quarterly Essay, Red Flag, published last year.
But, to now, the party’s functionaries have delivered their threats and pressure tactics in private and coercion has never been declared openly. Now we all see the truth – there is no goodwill, only gangsterism.
Second, “it’s a pretty inept piece of Wolf Warrior diplomacy because he’s huffing and puffing after the house has already blown down – China has already done more damage to our economy than any boycotts could,” says Rory Medcalf, head of the ANU’s National Security College. Wolf Warrior was a hugely popular piece of Chinese hypernationalist cinema released in 2017.
And third, Cheng’s comments are foolish because an open attempt to intimidate Morrison can only serve to rally Australia around the Prime Minister.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, coolly rejected “any suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response to a call for such an assessment, when what is needed is global co-operation”.
Critically, the opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, Labor’s Penny Wong, stood firm with the government. “I’d make the point that the Chinese ambassador spoke about not wanting to resort to recrimination, division and suspicion and what I’d say is that’s precisely why we are supporting a call for an independent inquiry into the origin of the virus,” she said. “We have to press what is right, what we believe is right, for us and for the international community, and making sure that humanity understands how this virus started is the right thing to do.”
Even Australia’s business leaders, consistent Beijing boosters, cannot possibly support China on this.
But Cheng’s foolishness is Australia’s fortune. It is now plain for all to see that the CCP is waging political war on Australia, using trade as a weapon. This is Australia’s moment of clarity. Australia has allowed itself to become more dependent on Chinese trade today than it has on any single nation since Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.
That ended in profound shock when Britain cut its trade preferences with Australia to join the European Common Market in 1973. We failed to remember our history and we have repeated our error.
Now the virus, and the Chinese Communist Party’s conduct, have exposed the urgent imperative for Australia to diversify its risk and defend its sovereignty.
Australia does not accept threats and intimidation from any other nation as the basis for relations. Thank you, Ambassador Cheng, for removing the mask so that we can all clearly see the features of the gangster beneath.
29 Apr 20/Wednesday Source: smh