Wednesday, December 02, 2020

China is right

The principles of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 have long influenced international relations.  The principles put an end to Europe's long religious wars and are often quoted to this day.

So what do the principles say?  In summary, they say that nations should not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations.  But as the summary below reveals, Australia has not remotely done that.  Morrison has in fact repeatedly done things likely to antagonize China.  It is a wonder that China has taken so long to respond.  They have been very patient

So how to get out of the mess? Morrison should simply acknowledge that he has flouted the principles of Westphalia and undertake not to do that again. The Muslim Uighurs are not our concern and an inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus is pointles.

He would simply be acknowledging international law to do so

A series of defence, trade and foreign policy disputes have led to what is seen as the lowest point in two countries’ ties in decades.

Relations between China and Australia are fast unravelling.

The growing diplomatic dispute – the culmination of a series of defence, trade and foreign policy disputes – took a nasty turn on Monday when a spokesman for the Chinese government tweeted a doctored image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.

The Australian newspaper said the latest spat marked the lowest point in China-Australia relations in 50 years.

How did things get here?

China’s assertive foreign policy and the rapid modernisation of its military has long unsettled Australian politicians. A turning point occurred in 2017 when Australia banned foreign political donations, with officials warning of “disturbing reports” of Chinese attempts to influence the political process in Canberra.

The following year, Australia became the first country to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network. It also reportedly went on to block 10 Chinese investment deals across infrastructure, agriculture and animal husbandry.

Relations worsened further this year when Australia called for an inquiry into the origins of the new coronavirus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Beijing has also been angered by Australian criticism of its actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

“They have repeatedly made wrong statements and actions on issues concerning China’s core interests,” Zhao Lijian, the Chinese government spokesman said last month, urging Australia to undertake “deep reflection”.

Another source of tensions has been Australia’s participation in the Quad, an informal grouping that includes the United States, India and Japan.

Beijing has called the alliance a US-led attempt to create an “Asian version of NATO”.

China’s response

In May, China curbed Australian beef imports and levied tariffs totalling 80.5 percent on Australian barley. Then in November, it imposed tariffs worth 200 percent on Australian wine and is expected to block further imports, including sugar, lobster, coal and copper ore.

With China accounting for about 35 percent of Australia’s total trade, some experts fear an all-out trade war could cost the latter 6 percent of its GDP. In contrast, Australia accounts for less than 4 percent of China’s commerce.

“Australia is playing above its head by trying to politically pressure China when its dependent on China for its economy,” said Einar Tangen, a Beijing-based analyst and economic adviser to the Chinese government.

Journalists have gotten caught up in the spat, too. In June, Australian intelligence and police raided the homes of four Chinese journalists over alleged influence campaigns, while authorities in China questioned two Australian journalists in a national security probe in September, prompting them to leave the country.

Will Australia back down?

Writing in The Interpreter last month, Henry Storey, an Australian analyst, said if Australia wants to resolve the dispute, it may need to apologise for calling for the COVID-19 inquiry, distance itself from the Quad and promise to respect China’s core interests.

But that appears unlikely.

Morrison, the Australian prime minister, signalled Australia will not reverse its China policy after the Chinese embassy shared a list of its grievances with the Australian media.

“I can assure you, we will always be Australia, act in our interests and in accordance with our values,” he told the Seven News Network.


This is not the place for a full discussion of the Peace of Westphalia but it might be of interest to see a short summary of its provisions:

The main tenets of the Peace of Westphalia were:

1). All parties would recognise the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, in which each prince would have the right to determine the religion of his own state (the principle of cuius regio, eius religio). The options were Catholicism, Lutheranism, and now Calvinism.

2). Christians living in principalities where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in private, as well as in public during allotted hours.

3). France and Sweden were recognised as guarantors of the imperial constitution with a right to intercede.

It is often argued that the Peace of Westphalia resulted in a general recognition of the exclusive sovereignty of each party over its lands, people, and agents abroad, as well as responsibility for the warlike acts of any of its citizens or agents

So it is clear that the ruler in each country affected by the treaty has exclusive power over his citizens in the issue of the day, which was religion.  A limited exemption to that (point 2 above) was however that Protestants could escape the religious edicts of a Catholic ruler by practicing their religion in private.  There was no such tolerance for non-Christian religions.  Jews were tolerated in the Netherlands only


Paul said...

Thank you!

I thought I was alone in refusing to get swept up in this idiotic, jingoistic Yellow Peril nonsense.

The Prime Minister of our country should not be getting publicly wound up about internet memes on social media. It's quite juvenile and unseemly.

Anonymous said...

the principal tenet of the treaty of Westphalia is this:

"Christians living in principalities where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in private, as well as in public during allotted hours."

The treaty of Westphalia has been voided by the Chinese government according to their treatment of Muslims. It's ridiculous for Scott Morrison to be held to this standard if the CCP is not held to it.