Trade with China is ... a punt on a geopolitical uncertainty

Peter Hartcher, Two suitors, but shared values have made our choice clear
The US Secretary of State also claimed that any strategic bet on China is a punt on a geopolitical uncertainty - the future stability and continuity of China: "There's no doubt about its economic success. But any fair reading of history would argue that unless that economic success is matched by growing political space and openness, there are going to a lot of tensions within China that will have to be dealt with.''

The Gillard government has decided that it agrees with Clinton. The two countries concur that the best chance of avoiding a major clash with China is not to yield to its new assertiveness, but to strengthen the network of alliances to better temper its demands.
Bzzz! Politician and journalist fail. So long as we continue to support China's economic and military rise by trading with it, we are strengthening China's arm. Non-yielding assertive posturing is a bugger-all brainless left-hand policy if it refuses to acknowledge the right-hand which is feeding the monster. But what else do you expect from ideologues other than denial of reality?

But at least there is some acknowledgement of the rising menace ...

Peter Hartcher, Back US over China: Clinton
Mrs Clinton squarely confronted the question of whether Australia should reassess its American alliance to give greater weight to a fast-rising China.

"I think that the core values of the Australian people, the quality of life, the standard of living, the aspirations that Australians feel are very much in line with the way Americans think and act," she said in Melbourne yesterday.

"So our relationship is essential to both of us. That doesn't mean we won't have relationships with others, but it does mean that this will remain the core partnership.

"And it is important to recognise that just because you increase your trade with China or your diplomatic exchanges with China, China has a long way to go in demonstrating its interest in being - and its ability to become - a responsible stakeholder.
Alas, there are those who are ready to ditch the alliance.

Hugh White, Striking a new balance
... China is already strong enough economically to challenge American power in Asia, it is already acquiring the military and diplomatic muscle to compete directly for leadership, and it is showing its determination to do so...

China's rise presents the US with a serious challenge to its leadership of Asia for the first time in decades, and presents Australia with an impossible choice between our traditional alliance and our economic future. The two allies are as a result pulling further apart. Washington wants Australia to help resist China's challenge by increasing military and diplomatic co-operation, while Canberra just wants to avoid taking sides between our major ally and our major trading partner.

The result is an alliance that, despite the warm words, is rapidly losing strategic and political coherence...

The more the rest of us try to constrain China, the more disruptive it will become.

So we should be asking the US to strike a delicate balance, playing a strong role in Asia while allowing China scope to satisfy its legitimate aspirations for more influence. We have to be careful not to appease aggression, but we must also be sure we do not incite aggression by refusing to accommodate legitimate ambition. This will not be easy, but a peaceful future for Asia, and for Australia, depends perhaps more than anything else on the US getting this balance right.

... there are real risks that it would become out of control, with serious danger of war... Australia would find itself forced to choose whether to follow the US into an increasingly intense strategic competition with China, or abandon the alliance.
So we keep supporting the rise of China with our trade, only we're going to pull a magical diplomatic solution out of our proverbial to calm the monster we have created? I'd say that's a solution definitely lacking "coherence".

And finally we come to biggest ideologue of them all: Big Kev. When there are only two clear choices ahead, you can count on the ideologue to concoct a magical "third way".

Lateline, Rudd presents 'third way' for China
TONY JONES: Now, you've talked recently about a third way of dealing with China that involves neither conflict nor kowtowing. What do you mean exactly by that?

KEVIN RUDD: What I mean, Tony, is that for many, many years now, the debate in Western countries in particular, and to some extent even within China itself, has said that there's only two ways of approaching the rise of this great power.

One is that we're in some sort of incipient or emerging conflict with China, and the other is the only way forward is to kowtow, in other words to comply with everything China says.

I don't think either of those paths is productive. I think there is a rational third way to proceed, and I believe that can be done through a comprehensive political and economic relationship where we agree on our common interests, both in the region, both at a world stage and bilaterally as well, but also not walking away from those areas in which we disagree.

I think that's the right and rational way to proceed, rather than having this simple, black/white alternative which frankly doesn't lend itself to the great complexity that is modern China.
The 7:30 Report, Rudd on China's rise
KEVIN RUDD, FOREIGN MINISTER: ... the Asia Pacific region, which is in a state of huge change. Yes, we do have the rise of China, and we to have of course burgeoning military expenditures in many other countries in the region. So one of the things that we engage in is: how do you build for the future a stable, rules-based order for East Asia and the Pacific for this 21st Century? That's one of the things that we engaged in substantively during these discussions in Melbourne...

I think it's important that we're all contributors to the regional and global order. China has come from being an impoverished state 30 years or so ago to being one of this region's great powers and is on track to become a global great power. Therefore, it's entirely right that the Americans, ourselves and others talk about how these rising powers, including India, contribute to a regional and global rules-based order. And the reason is that provides the stability for the future, and that strategic stability then makes economic growth and jobs possible as well. So therefore, this is not specifically targeted at the PRC; it's targeted at the region as a whole, and that's what we're in the business of doing with our American friends...

Foreign policy is looking ahead and seeing where we're likely to be in a decade's time, and how do we make appropriate preparations? If we look at this region of ours, it's replete with strategic uncertainty. Why? Here, unlike in Europe, we've outstanding territorial disputes - on the Korean Peninsula, in the East China Sea, in the South China Sea and going further round to India of course in Kashmir. So you ask: why are we so keen on developing a rules-based order which enables us to have confidence in security building measures among us, greater predictability of military budgeting, military exercising and the like? It's because this region is much rawer - or much more raw - whatever the correct English is - than is the case in Europe. Therefore, we've got a whole lot of building to do. That's why we've been such strong supporters of this concept of an Asia Pacific community, which now has its form and shape through the East Asia Summit. We've gotta develop its agenda and establish those rules. We don't want conflict in our region.

... therefore the idea of some zero sum game, head to Washington or head to Beijing, is frankly nonsense. That's not the way in which you conduct a foreign policy of a robust, independent and proud state such as ours, Australia.

... we believe therefore that by enhancing the dialogue one-on-one with the Chinese, but also regionally, through this emerging institution, the East Asian Summit, we can obtain greater predictability, greater consistency and we believe greater stability in terms of military operations within the region. As I said before, right now, it's all a bit brittle. We've not had these sort of institutions on the political and security front. Our job now as builders of the region's architecture is to get that right, and that includes with our friends in China as well.
Awww, that's so nice. A rules-based order sounds so strong, when now there is only brittleness. Kevin is so nice, he must be right. No need to change our suicidal trade policy which is feeding a monster. No, the monster will follow the rules. No, really. Kevin said it so articulately it must be true. He speaks Mandarin, so he must be right.

Here is the great ideologue denying our suicidal trade policy and pulling a magical third-way out of his proverbial.

File under: relax, the suicidal ideology of indiscriminate trade comes equipped with magical solutions which can be pulled from the proverbial at the last minute to calm any monsters that we may have blindly created in full view and plain sight because (a) the ideology of free trade is never wrong and (b) bullies just need more love and time to develop and (c) a rules-based order will fix everything anyway and (d) the mindless groupthink that will come with the Asia-Pacific Community will put everyone to sleep and herald an open-borders nirvana just like the EU, just wait, you'll see.

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