Sweet and sour: Australian attitudes towards China

Andrew Shearer, director of studies at the Lowy Institute for International Policy has been giving the matter some thought ...

Videos at the Lowy Institute.

Interview with Radio Australia, Aug 20, 2010
SEN LAM: Does the title of your paper, "Sweet and Sour" succinctly describes Australia's ambivalence towards China?

SHEARER: I think it does... What we found in the Lowy Institute's 2010 poll on Australian public attitudes towards foreign policy issues was ... while three quarters of Australians recognise that China's growth is a good thing for Australia, we found ... 70 percent of Australians think that China aims to dominate Asia... and ... almost half of Australians, 46 percent think that there is a likelihood of Australia being attacked militarily by China in the next 20 years.

LAM: Well, that last finding seems to me quite a startling revelation. Did that surprise you as well?

SHEARER; It did Sen, but what I think it reflects is a deeper underlying reality, for something like 200 years now, Australia's strategic interests and our economic interests have run along in parallel. Our major trading partner has always been, either our major security provider or an ally of our major security provider, so first the UK, then for a long time the United States and more recently, Japan. What we're seeing now is profoundly different. China has overtaken Japan as our leading trading partner, but China is a strategic competitor of the United States, our ally ...

LAM: ... Now as the relationship grows in importance, do you think it might also become far more complex and challenging?

SHEARER: I think that is undoubted... I think the divergence between our economic interests and our strategic interest is going to grow. I think that's going to require a very deft management by Australia's next government and that is why I think it is so important that the next government puts in place a durable framework which makes clear that we want to expand our commercial ties with China, while at the same time being absolutely clear that we want to maintain our strategic links with the United States. And that we are not going to compromise our values on questions such as human rights.
Shearer calls for deft management with clear and uncompromising dealings with China. Yeah, that'll stop them. They'll be trembling in their boots. Not. Shearer acknowledges that for 200 years our economic and strategic interests ran in parallel. Does he consider moving back towards that proven security? Nope, that part of his brain doesn't work: suppressed by the ideology of globalisation. He wants to maintain our strategic links with the US, but does he consider the demographic decline of white America puts our alliance at risk once it loses its white identity? Nope, that part of his brain is suppressed by the ideology of diversity. So it's full steam ahead to expand our commercial ties with China because those ideologies cannot be criticised. That's nuts. Making China rich is not in the US' national interest and therefore not in ours. Hence we should be reducing our commerical ties with China, not expanding.

So many of our intellectuals are really fatalistic commentators i.e. they comment passively on the passing scene with a dash of added rhetoric about tightening the reigns to give the facade of being in control when really they are complicit passengers on the sinking ship of ideology.

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