Thursday, October 06, 2016
Abbott injects dose of realism on Australia-China relationship
Bob Carr is a prominent Leftist but he says the conservative view of China is better than the Labor party one:
Australia’s recent anti-China panic seems to challenge any prospect of a positive relationship with Beijing.
All hysterias exhaust themselves in excess, as this one did when an unnamed spook alleged Chinese espionage around iron ore negotiations when, in fact, the price is set by the spot market and has been for five years.
What’s left to the two nations, when Beijing is said to be stirring pro-Mao rallies to destabilise our politics and wrecking our census website out of pure spite? Both were colourful inventions. Or, just as bizarre, directing its one million tourists to work as spies. What’s left — apart from a Cold War?
Yet Tony Abbott’s speech in New York (“History haunts us in China: Abbott’’, 1-2/10) relegated Cold War instinct about China and embraced foreign policy realism. This is a significant intervention.
It seems to chime with the views of his successor Malcolm Turnbull and Liberal icon John Howard and embodies the prevailing thinking about China on the conservative side of Australian politics: a generally positive view of the Australia-China relationship. It draws a line with the harshly negative view of China.
The realism? Abbott is prepared to say, “America shouldn’t expect predominance in East Asia any more than it did throughout Europe during the Cold War”. This seems just a shade short of saying US primacy or dominance in Asia cannot be counted on forever.
Certainly Abbott was quick to underline the US’s continuing role in preserving freedom of navigation and its alliance relationships. But he also seems at one with Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in not snapping to salute US admirals who drop clanging hints that Australia should run patrols in the 12 nautical mile radius of Chinese-claimed territory. Abbott did not take their hints in government; and he did not advocate it in his speech.
It is still possible to recognise the dangers in the US-China relationship — the Thucydides trap, the tension between a rising and an established power. Yet Abbott resists alarmism. He says “the more capacity China gains to challenge the US, the more it has to lose in any conflict”.
This echoes Howard’s realism about the South China Sea: Howard foresees a long period of on-and-off tension but without a descent into conflict, rather like tension over the Taiwan Straits in the 1950s and 60s.
Abbott refers positively to the free trade agreement negotiated by Andrew Robb and sealed during the visit of President Xi Jinping to Australia in 2014. He makes the point it was the first between China and a big advanced economy.
For the first time, he nominates as one of his achievements Australia’s decision to join the Chinese-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. He invokes the argument “you shouldn’t insist China plays by the rules only to reject it when it does”.
And — this is a forceful comment, source considered — he says it is a pity that the US and Japan have declined to join. By implication, it was the wrong call of the White House to lobby allies, something the US administration would probably now admit.
Leading Australia into the bank against the advice of the US President remains an important symbol that Australia can make a China policy without reference to Washington; that we can run a China policy based on national interest.
This places Abbott at odds with commentary on China from Peter Jennings of Australian Strategic Policy Institute and former public servants Paul Dibb and Paul Monk, who have written in The Australian.
His prescription for “constant dialogue” with China, using forums such as the East Asia Summit, confirms this. Here is the short-term antidote to strategic mistrust. The so-called “comprehensive strategic partnership” his government concluded with the Chinese leadership fits this pattern of engagement — engagement, not isolation, not containment.
Significantly, he acknowledges internal debate in China over foreign policy — the possibility of an evolution about which the West should not be naive nor blind.
More and more Chinese people travel, study and work abroad. The figure is 100 million a year — which is the biggest difference between China today and earlier Marxist-Leninist models.
It is common sense that, in Abbott’s words, this must feed “the taste of freedom”.
He says market freedom produces social freedom, academic freedom and finally a measure of political freedom even if, in its first stages, it is political choice under the umbrella of the Communist Party.
This might be optimistic but it’s a prognosis that accords with the Western expectation that when a country is predominantly middle class, as China will be in the 2020s, its politics cannot continue locked in authoritarian mode.
Nothing here would be at odds with the instincts of Abbott’s successor, Turnbull. Realist and pragmatic, it can be considered the ruling wisdom on China of Australian conservatism. It is a more confident and studied position than Labor in opposition has yet produced.
Huge Police goon Hurley under fire again
Best known for droppping his big knee on a black guy's stomach, splitting his liver and killing him. But his fellow cops contaminated the investigation so he got off
Controversial Queensland cop Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley has been charged with three additional assault charges at the start of a two-day trial on the Gold Coast.
Hurley is facing trial in Southport Magistrates Court over a 2013 incident in which he allegedly grabbed a motorist by the throat.
He had been charged with one count of common assault over the incident but three further counts were added at the start of the trial.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Hurley was acquitted of the manslaughter of Palm Island man Cameron Doomadgee in 2007.
The trial is expected to conclude on Thursday.
Racist policy at ANU
Discriminating against the Han. American Ivy league universities do the same.
Australia's top-ranked global university is moving to lower its proportion of Chinese international students, a group it describes as "dominating" international student numbers.
Documents unearthed in a freedom of information request reveal the Australian National University has since 2015 quietly implemented a "diversification strategy" in an attempt to lower its share of Chinese enrolments.
ANU has the largest proportion of Chinese students in the Group of Eight universities. Over 60 per cent of its commencing international undergraduate enrolments were from China in 2016.
The documents, obtained by ANU student newspaper Woroni, reveal the university has been concerned about the financial risk of heavy dependence on the Chinese market.
There was a need to "mitigate potential risk exposure in the event of market downturn," Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington is recorded as saying in the minutes of a February 2016 ANU Council meeting.
The diversification strategy aims to recruit students from other nations such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore.
But the documents reveal mixed success for this strategy, with enrolment from only Singapore and India growing since the implementation of the diversification plan in early 2015. Enrolments from those countries grew by 8 per cent and 24.7 per cent respectively.
However, in the past five years, enrolments from Chinese students have grown from 42.1 per cent of the international student intake to 59.1 per cent in 2016.
"The University remains exposed to the Chinese international market," a report dated May 2015 said. "Diversification strategies at College and Central level are addressing this issue, but will take time to make a meaningful impact," it said.
Anne Baly, Director International for ANU, told Fairfax Media the university was motivated mainly by creating a diverse, internationalised student body.
"I suspect ANU is not totally alone in this," she said. "We welcome and actively recruit the best and brightest students from around the world. For us, having a student body that is reflective of the global community at large is great for all students."
Ms Baly said over-reliance on any one country for international students "in itself is not a great business model, but I think that the driver behind this is about diversity. It's not like we're moving away from recruiting students from China. They are overwhelmingly great students to have."
There had been no particular problems with racial tension between groups on the campus, Ms Baly said.
But she said concentrations of students from any one country makes it "hard to provide them with the international experience", because they tended to socialise and work within their language group.
"We would be looking to encourage a broader group of students across all disciplines as well."
The uni was pursuing its diversification strategy through marketing in other countries and pursuing student exchanges through partnership agreements, she said.
ANU International Students department president Harry Feng said he was unaware of the diversification strategy, but said "I am not concerned as long as all the applicants… are treated fairly with the same set of standards."
ANU has agreements with hundreds of overseas education agencies who act as middlemen in the recruitment of ANU international students. One of the FOI documents, a May 2015 report on the diversification strategy, indicates the university management was aware of the need to improve the management of such agents.
In 2015, an ABC Four Corners investigation exposed the sometimes corrupt and fraudulent activities of Chinese education agents, including some representing ANU.
Ms Baly said the university worked through reputable education agents and managed such relationships very carefully.
Several issues involving pro-Beijing Chinese students at ANU have made the news this year, including an incident where the head of a Chinese student group allegedly bullied a campus pharmacy worker over displaying the Falun Gong-linked paper The Epoch Times in the shop.
Chinese dissident and ANU maths student Wu Lebao told the Australian Financial Review he was forced to move out of a flat he sublet from fellow Chinese students after they discovered his political views. A Chinese PhD student at ANU drew attention for creating a pro-Communist party nationalist video that went viral online.
The university also launched an investigation into students using essay cheating services advertising online in Mandarin in January.
Andrew Norton from the Grattan Institute said universities were exposed when overly dependent on international students from a single market.
"As a general rule, heavy financial reliance on an international source country does have risks – we saw this with Indian students a few years ago, when bad publicity about crime in Australia, a high dollar and changes to visa rules combined to reduce student numbers," he said.
"There is also the risk that political factors overseas make it harder for students to travel overseas or economic problems in their country make foreign education less affordable."
ANU was Australia's top-ranked global university in the 2016 QS World Rankings and second highest in this year's Times World University Rankings. International students' enrolment decisions are typically influenced heavily by global rankings.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan says the abuse of Australia's legal system by green groups seeking to delay mining projects warrants a "fundamental" review of environmental law.
Senator Canavan on Wednesday used a Queensland Media Club luncheon speech to take aim at activists who harbour an anti-development ideology.
He said a leaked document from a NSW green group in 2011 laid bare their "disrupt and delay" strategy, calling for significant investment in legal challenges.
"We have to be very clear that this is an abuse of our legal system," Senator Canavan said.
"Our legal system is there to provide legitimate avenues for people of that view that government decisions, that industry decisions are harming them or are not taking into account proper environmental needs."
Senator Canavan said recent court decisions had dismissed conservationists' concerns about negative impacts on the environment or projects not stacking up economically.
"We still believe fundamentally as a government that our environmental laws need reform," he said.
It was only last week that Queensland's highest court dismissed a conservationist group's latest appeal against Hancock Coal's proposed Alpha coalmine.
Coast and Country has been fighting the Gina Rinehart and GVK mine in court since 2013 and may consider a high court challenge against the last week's ruling.
Adani's Carmichael coal mine has also faced a long string of legal challenges from green groups, while a legal challenge to New Hope's Acland expansion is currently winding up after seven months in the Land Court.
Senator Canavan argued that if governments did not open up resources-rich areas, other competitors would supply products to developing countries.
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