Does this alliance strengthen Australia?

AUKUS: one Chinese Community perspective on the domestic and international repercussions

1 October 2021 | CCCA

There is no doubt that the world has entered into Cold War 2 and the chief protagonists are US and China.  Whilst, the two sides show latching on the cold war mentality is US-China Trade war and a lesser extent, the Australia-China trade war.  Despite the title of “trade war”, these nations seem to continue to trade happily ever after.  Hence, the world is getting complicated and difficult to understand. 

Back home, we have the storm created by AUKUS treaty and despite denials by our politicians that it is not a military alliance, the rest of Asia didn’t think so, and branded it an actual military alliance , an exclusive Anglophile club. 

The first opposition of the nuclear submarine deal came from an unexpected quarter, the Unions where they claim loss of Australian jobs and our SMH comment to this news: The Unions are consistent in their opposition to AUKUS that it takes jobs away from Australians. If the US or UK is willing to transfer nuclear technology to Australia, then the nuclear subs can be manufactured in Australia creating employment for Australians.

This opposition could create a problem for the Labor Party where it supports the government on the AUKUS treaty but with Union members agitating. As AUKUS enjoy bipartisan support there is not much debate about the pros and cons of the treaty particularly the geopolitical fallout consequences with China , not to mention ASEAN and others. 

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull supports this sentiment. The global repercussions are plenty, not just confined to Asia but Europe and others. 

Malaysia and Indonesia have expressed concerns about the AUKUS treaty and echoed China’s sentiments that AUKUS and nuclear subs would encourage nuclear proliferation, arms race and destabilize the Asia Pacific. Can we afford to ignore the concerns of our most populous northern neighbours and the possibility that more ASEAN countries would express similar sentiments. 

In the wake of this development, Japan has awoken and publicly declared that they have torn up the self-defence constitution and re-arming and boldly jettison the one China policy.  At this rate Japan will go nuclear, followed by South Korea. Chairman Kim will be delighted and say “Welcome to the Nuclear Club of East Asia”.  Consequently, one spark would ignite WW3 and MAD in the Asia Pacific. Japan has publicly declared it would arm itself for the defence of Taiwan.  Great fireworks! 

It looks the arm race in the Asia Pacific has begun and in Asian eyes, Australia is responsible for stoking the arm race.  We can be accused of being the war monger of Asia Pacific is we do not take steps to assure our Pacific neighbours that these nuclear subs are for keeping the peace.   

Creating wars are easy but deterring them is hard work.  For the sake of peace and prosperity for all in Asia Pacific, Australia should rise up and take a leading role to ferment peace and it is never too late because Australia can do it if she wants to. 

Many commentators on Asia have left out a possible scenario what the reaction of Russia, Japan, South Korea and DPRK would be.  Would AUKUS indirectly prompt them to possess nuclear arms?  It would suit the Japanese agenda to re-arm and this is a good excuse to go for it. 

In EU, the French tantrum about being back stabbed by Allies, has been emotional and Macron wasted no time, showing his displeasure by (1) recalling the French ambassadors from the Washington and Canberra, (2) cancelling UN speech by French President, and a US function; (3) goading other EU members against US/Australia; (4) lobbying NATO not to support US China containment policies and (5) attempting to derail Australia-EU trade agreement.  These reactions by the French can be accurately described as “Hell as no fury like a woman scorned”. 

The bipolar world in Asia played out by China and the US are not easily understood as the event occurring across the Atlantic in Canada is giving the straight forward game a twist, i.e.. the release of Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou and the return of the two Michaels detained in China, committed for spying. Peace makers in the world see the event in Canada as a good sign for the thawing of US-China relations which can reduce tension and produce peace. The overall feeling is a win-win for all three parties US, China and Canada. Canada can now resume to rebuild her relations with China, Australia may be left behind.

The release of Meng is not a sideshow and in fact, it is the centrepiece of diplomacy between US and China, played out separately, whist maintaining heat in another area (old war strategy -keep your enemy occupied).  The US’s concern to let go Meng, is not just the collaboration in climate change or covid-19 containment, but the US capitalists’ feeling of the squeeze on their profits. The US Administration is always a de facto plutocracy and would bend backwards for the corporate “knights”.  For US it is all about money & strangle the competitors.  

For China, it is something else and will only be revealed much later in the year.  Australia does have leverage on China and the most valuable chip is the constant demonization of China.  If Australia stops the rhetoric, the two Australians in China can be repatriated as “prisoner” exchange similar to Meng & the two Canadian Michaels.  I have doubts about this exchange for the simple reason that they are only Chinese Australians and are expendable? 

The other prediction we would make is the improvement in relations between US and China is good for the world but not necessarily good for us, as we may be holding the baby with Taiwan and South China Seas all alone. 

Judging by recent frequent high-power dialogue between of US and China including Biden/Xi, the ability to resort to diplomatic means to solve their problems can have a bearing with what Australian standing in the front line in the US China containment policy.  The irony would be if US-China resolve their differences by discarding Cold War 2 and Trade Wars, Australia will be left holding the baby all alone in the Asia Pacific.  The responsibility would be too heavy and burdensome for Australia. 

Lastly, the beating of war drums in Australia, led by the media and our high-level politicians is a dangerous one. However, it does serve a purpose for a “khaki” election, i.e.. China is the devil, elect me and you will be saved.  Not much different from the US style of khaki election when warmongers scare their voters and retain power by creating and sustaining the bogeyman syndrome on their people. 

In the US, the talk of war can produce an increased military spending and cater well for domestic election needs.  Australia is obviously following the same pattern of thought to shore up employment with billions of military spending.  Although war is not eminent with China as others wish us to believe, there are many factors that need to be considered, particularly the unavoidable consequence of a nuclear holocaust. 

Our comment in the SMH on this subject. 

If a land war breaks out in Asia Pacific, superiority in arms will not win the war. Body-bags manufacturers will make a big profit. The land war will trigger a naval war then nukes flying everywhere -US BASES in Australia could easily be the targets.

Whatever submarine strategy illustrated in this article is also well known to the PLA navy. The end game with nuclear subs is to launch the nuke missiles – nuclear holocaust. Japan, DPRK, South Korea and Russia will join in the fun and UK drawn in. WW3 starts. World catastrophe follows and end of the planet may be in sight. Too horrible to even imagine.

We are in favour of strong defence for Australia but what if others do not see it that way and the arms race in East Asia will start to haunt us. The best defence is always through diplomacy and constructive dialogue leading to peaceful coexistence and development with mutual respect and tolerance. It is a win-win for all of us, not just some of us. That is the key message out of the current UN General Assembly. Can any leader not hear this?


Principal authors, Tony Pun and Dr Ka Sing Chua. This commentary is supplied by the Chinese Community Council of Australia Incorporated: Founding President, Dr Anthony Pun OAM, President, Mr Kingsley Liu. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.

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