Tuesday, November 14, 2023

PM’s kowtow a necessary evil of doing business

Anthony Albanese visited China, met President Xi Jinping and came home with some important ad­vances to help rekindle trade links.

The entire charade has been on China’s terms but that doesn’t mean it’s not in Australia’s interests. The invitation was an olive branch from Beijing after a sustained period of hostility during the Morrison years, that had damaging economic consequences.

An Aussie prime minister prepared to kowtow matters to the Chinese, which is what Albanese had to do to repair the relationship. The gesture is seen as a sign of respect and submission. Albanese put a premium on the economic benefits of doing so.

While the Middle Kingdom isn’t a democracy, it certainly understands what advantages it can derive from the process of democracy and capitalism elsewhere.

Australia under the Coalition ramped up its rhetoric against China on security matters and the Chinese responded with sanctions. In these frosty dealings, diplomatic channels closed down and backdoor efforts to reopen them failed. The public rhetoric coming from Scott Morrison was simply too strong – unless a circuit-breaker could be found.

That circuit-breaker was Labor winning last year’s federal election. Had the Coalition won, only a humiliating public backdown by Team Morrison would have sufficed. The sanctions would have had to bite hard for our proud former prime minister to do that, though, especially given the internal criticism he would have received on his right flank.

But there was a change of government, so China extended the olive branch to the new Labor administration: reopening some trade (not all) while watching the rhetoric that followed. Once satisfied Albanese wasn’t going to emulate the aggressive posturing of his predecessor, an invitation for the official visit soon followed.

In turn, Albanese has invited Xi to visit Australia again, but there will be no second address to the parliament for the Chinese President if he does. His first address in 2014 was hailed (incorrectly) as a long-term commitment to democratisation by China. Xi smiled politely at the misunderstanding at the time. Since then he has declared himself leader for life, not even submitting to the Communist Party’s appointment processes, much less democratisation.

China understands its emerging power and acts accordingly. Its communist regime has no intention of democratisation. China takes a long-term view when it comes to international relations, unsurprising for a civilisation many millennia old and used to being the largest, most advanced society across the globe for most of that time.

Westerners often fail to understand the engrained cultural superiority within the Chinese leadership such historical dominance spawns, coupled with a belief that the past 200 years were an aberration to be learned from and corrected, given the insult. Thousands of years of Chinese dominance were briefly punctuated by a failure to explore, trade and develop firearms. Modern China has learnt from such mistakes – just look at where it directs government spending.

Journalistic scribblings about Australian leaders visiting China usually overstate the importance of how such trips foster relations.

Meanwhile some commentators lay into prime ministers for spending too much time abroad, especially going to China, as though leaders should tether themselves to their country of origin instead.

Albanese will head to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in San Francisco next week, as he should, to inevitable criticism he’s away too often. Failure to attend, sending a subordinate instead, would be a sign he is rattled by criticism in the wake of inflation and interest rate woes.

We are but one of many smaller trading nations modern China deals with. The power is all one way. If in meetings we politely condemn China’s treatment of domestic minorities, or its interactions with its nearest neighbours, its leaders will nod politely and continue to go about their business as they choose. The comments represent nothing more than a red herring in their eyes. But if we push the point too hard and too publicly, China will retaliate to dissuade future political leaders from using the same rhetorical force, knowing full well that democratic elections can quickly replace recalcitrant leaders – not something Chinese officials need to worry about.

This was always China’s strategy when it came to Team Morrison – patience.

If we want an Australian citizen held in detention released, China will release them if that suits its interests. If, however, it calculates that such actions might cause domestic unrest or spark calls for further actions that risk undermining the ruling party, no outcome will be forthcoming. All Australian negotiators can do is ask politely while briefing their political leaders to avoid public condemnation likely to damage the process.

Security experts claim kowtowing on trade risks emboldening China’s actions in areas such as cyber crimes. What rubbish. China will always do what it wants on that front unless somehow stopped by a more powerful adversary.

Australian wine and beef are pleasing to the palate but not a deal breaker when it comes to the Chinese putting security self-interest first. A failure to do that contributed to China’s decline from the mid-1400s onwards when it scuttled its treasure fleet and turned inwards. Britain’s victory in the mid-1800s Opium Wars gave way to more than a century’s worth of domestic tumult, before Deng Xiaoping’s market reforms in the late 1970s set China on a course back to power supremacy on the international stage, taking advantage of the Cold War climate.

Australia has no influence over Chinese decision-making beyond the tone of engagement dictating the response we get. China isn’t an ally and it isn’t a democracy. It is an emerging superpower and we are a middle power at best. Its vision for our region includes Australia serving as a modern tributary state rather than a hostile advocate for US interests. Diplomats hope the choice never becomes a binary one. China uses its economic clout to do the same.

In centuries past the practice of kowtowing involved touching the ground with one’s forehead as a show of respect and submission. The practice was most identified with meeting the Chinese emperor and was a ritual tributary state dignitaries would perform. While the formal practice is antiquated, when dealing with China the sentiment hasn’t changed. For a trade-dependent nation such as Australia, it is a necessary evil when doing business.


Aggressive Aborigine finally sacked

Fresh allegations have emerged that an Indigenous adviser to Transport for NSW who threatened to kill senior executive Rochelle Hicks had previously boasted he would “smash that woman’s face in”, as NSW Premier Chris Minns announced the man would be removed from all future government projects.

The Weekend Australian revealed how Ian Brown, who was contracted as cultural heritage manager on the $2.2bn Coffs Harbour bypass project, said at a meeting of the Coffs Harbour Local Aboriginal Land Council in June: “If I see Rochelle I will kill her.”

Mr Brown was allowed to stay in his $165-per-hour job “because he is Aboriginal and a cultural knowledge holder”, Ms Hicks was told by her bosses, who feared the massive bypass project might be shut down if he was sacked.

Now a second senior NSW public servant has told The Australian she was present at a previous meeting of the land council in October last year, when Mr Brown made threats to harm Ms Hicks. “Ian Brown just got angry out of the blue, he went from zero to 100 and said: ‘I’m gonna smash that woman’s face in next time I see her, I’m gonna smash her’, referring to Rochelle,” said the public servant, who has asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.

“I felt really uncomfortable because I was the only woman in the room and there were five Aboriginal males and there was no attempt to pull him up by anyone in the meeting.”

The public servant says she didn’t report the comments because “those threats aren’t really taken seriously by our agencies”. “You get a lot of fluster and bluster from stakeholders, but these were threats of physical harm. It wasn’t a joke, it was said in complete seriousness and anger.”

On Monday, Mr Minns said: “Following these concerning allegations, Transport for NSW ­directed the LALC that he is not to be used for any further TFNSW projects. Everyone has a right to feel safe at work and the department is taking this very seriously.”

The Premier moved to distance the NSW government from the decision to allow Mr Brown to ­remain in his job, pointing to Mr Brown’s role as a contractor employed by the LALC.

“These roles are nominated by the council, not selected by the ­department,” Mr Minns said.

However, Mr Brown is specifically named in the contract between Transport for NSW and the land council to be engaged as cultural heritage site manager at a rate of $165 per hour.

Mr Brown first denied making the threat when contacted by The Australian but then claimed: “That’s just f..king words, mate … it’s just bullshit words.”

Minister for Roads Jenny Aitchison told 2GB on Monday that Transport for NSW had made “numerous attempts to engage with Ms Hicks”. However, Ms Hicks said those attempts were made only after she was seen near the Coffs Harbour bypass site last week in the company of a photographer from The Australian.

“They’re claiming now they’ve reached out to me – that’s just not true,” Ms Hicks said. “I’ve had one conversation with Performance Standards in August where they told me I’m not allowed to talk about this with anybody.”

Ms Hicks’ solicitor sent a nine-page letter to Camilla Drover, Transport for NSW deputy secretary, on September 19, detailing her complaint, and has had no substantive response since then.

On Monday, Ms Aitchison said she “understands Transport will be responding to the letter shortly”. The minister also claimed that Mr Brown had been terminated from the bypass project


How the Jewish heart of Caulfield became a Mid-East battleground

The panicked messages starting bouncing through the large Jewish community in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield on Friday afternoon, hours before the violent street clash between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups that night.

“Highly unprecedented and threatening,” said one. “Can you believe they are coming to Caulfield?” said another, adding: “escalating quickly.”

Caulfield is the nation’s Jewish heartland, with Jews accounting for 41 per cent of its 20,000 people, many of whom are still grieving Israeli friends and loved ones lost in the Hamas massacre of October 7.

The notion that hundreds of pro-Palestinian supporters would choose to hold a rally in Caulfield was highly provocative and based on a dubious premise.

The stated reason for holding a rally there was the destruction by fire on Thursday night of a local burger shop in Caulfield called Burgertory, owned by a Palestinian Australian Hash Tahey who has been prominent in pro-Palestinian protests in Melbourne.

Police said before the rally they were “very confident” the blaze was not racially or politically motivated but pro-Palestinian supporters ignored that advice and labelled it an anti-Palestinian hate crime.

I watched from the side of the road as the demonstration at Princes Park along Hawthorn Rd adjacent to a synagogue in South Caulfield started off peacefully but soon turned angry.

The Palestinian side, numbering several hundred, quickly went beyond calls of “free Palestine” and “Free Gaza”, to more provocative chants including “Israel, USA, how many kids did you kill today”, and “From the River to the Sea”, which is a call to destroy Israel.

Several musclebound hotheads from the Palestinian side went further, abusing some Jewish women standing nearby who had wrapped the Israeli flag around their body.

One started throwing homophobic slurs at Jewish onlookers and at one point raised his arm in what from a distance looked like a Nazi salute. Cries of Allahu Akbar, meaning God is Great, rang out atvarious times.

As the noise from the protest became louder, the local synagogue was evacuated for safety.

“People inside their homes having Shabbat dinner terrified hearing the chants of Allahu Akbar,” said one message sent by a Jewish community member. “Synagogue evacuated.”

As the demonstration progressed, an ever-larger group of pro-Israel supporters began to gather directly across the road as word spread through the community.

Many of them returned the insults that were being shouted at them by the Palestinian side.

Security outside the Caulfield South Synagoge after last nights clash between Pro Palestine and Pro Jewish groups
Security outside the Caulfield South Synagoge after last nights clash between Pro Palestine and Pro Jewish groups
The police, outnumbered and poorly prepared for what was about to happen, lined up along both sides of Hawthorn Rd to try to keep the warring parties apart.

Cars carrying pro-Palestinians drove down Hawthorn Rd between the two groups, with some yelling obscenities and raising the finger to the Israeli crowd.

Eventually the rally ended with the Palestinian side conducting a mass prayer while the Israeli side sang the Israeli national anthem and other patriotic songs.

But the end of the protest only inflamed the situation more because the Palestinian protesters did not go home. Instead, they goaded the Jewish side with abuse and more slogans.

With both sides screaming at each other, several Palestinian protesters suddenly broke through the police cordon and rushed at the Israeli side.

Mayhem unfolded as punches were thrown and police fired pepper spray at the brawlers.

One pro-Palestinian protester was thrown onto the road handcuffed and led away while shouting “Free Palestine motherf..kers” to the pro-Israeli supporters.

Someone from the Palestinian side threw several rocks at the Israel side, hitting a man and causing a deep cut and bruising on his lower leg.

A Jewish neighbour opposite the park opened up his house and took in those Israeli supporters who had been pepper sprayed and also the man hit by the rock.

A Jewish doctor who just happened to be on site rushed in to treat people, aided by several police who instructed the injured on the best way to reduce the ­effects of pepper spray.

By the time it was all over the Jewish community was incensed. “They’re animals – why did the police allow this. Allahu Akbar in Caulfield?” one wrote.

Politicians weighed in with Liberal leader Peter Dutton slamming the Palestinian protesters for “a deliberate act of incitement” while Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the violence was “unacceptable”.

Free Palestine Melbourne eventually apologised for holding the protest near a synagogue but not for holding it in Caulfield.

Yet the damage was done. The deliberate provocation to invade the heart of Jewish Melbourne got the response that they must have expected. And Melbourne was the poorer for it.


Aliyawar Yawari, frightening face of High Court fallout, hunts elderly women in WA

Aliyawar Yawari is a violent sex predator with a record of attacking elderly women in their own homes so chilling a judge branded him “a danger to the Australian community”.

One of his victims was bashed in the neck with a walking stick after being indecently assaulted.

But on Monday, as he embraced his sudden freedom, Yawari was the face of a federal government dilemma following a landmark High Court ruling that has released him and dozens of other criminals from long-term immigration detention.

Standing outside the modest Perth City Motel on the city’s eastern outskirts, the 65-year-old said he was happy to be free but told reporters he had been jailed for “fighting” – giving little hint of the gravity of his crimes that saw him spend four years in prison and another five years in immigration detention.

Yawari had looked destined to be deported, but the High Court decision – overturning a 20-year precedent – has now changed that.

The Albanese government has left open the option of placing electronic ankle bracelets on more than 90 detainees being freed from immigration detention, and is considering a “legislative fix” following the High Court ruling that indefinite detention was illegal.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles confirmed 80 people had already been released on “appropriate” visa conditions as of Sunday night, with expectations 93 or more individuals will eventually be allowed to live in the community.

The reasons for their detention range from breaches of traffic offences to murder, with the Coalition warning they were “hardcore criminals” and complex cases. Government sources said none of the individuals in the cohort were subject to an adverse security assessment or were considered a national security risk.

Since his release, Yawari and others from WA’s Yongah Hill detention centre have been holed up in humble rooms inside the motel, which has a barbed wire-topped fence, flaking lime-green paint, several abandoned shopping trolleys and a long line of one-star Google reviews.

It looks set to be Yawari’s home for some time to come, as both he and the authorities figure out what to do next. Speaking outside the motel, Yawari said he was upset over his treatment, and now wanted to get back to work. “I just want a new job,” he said.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus would not expand on the visa conditions for the released detainees as he faces calls from the opposition to expand the criminal code so control orders, continuing detention orders and extended supervision orders can apply to them and not just people who committed terrorism offences.

Labor sources said it was unclear if the government could take legislative action before the High Court provided reasons for its decision, after a majority of the bench agreed a stateless Rohingya man known as NZYQ had been detained unlawfully and his continued detention would be illegal.

“I don’t want to speak for the individual visa conditions that are being contemplated in response to the particular circumstances for each of these visa holders, but I can assure the Australian community that the first priority of the government is to keep our community safe,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“There will be appropriate visa conditions and the commonwealth government will be working with state and territory criminal justice agencies, who of course are primarily responsible for each of the people concerned.”

Mr Dreyfus said the government was “of course” contemplating a legislative fix.

Yawari had fled his home of Afghanistan after both his father and brother were killed by the Taliban. He eventually made it to Australia in 2010 and quickly found a job at a meatworks in Bordertown, South Australia. He proudly explained that he had never received Centrelink payments.

But he was convicted of multiple serious offences related to attacks on three women between October 2013 and December 2014.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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