The CCP threat
Members of Parliament have given some real clarity on the issue of China. They have called out China for committing genocide against their own people. They have called out China for stealing Australian businesses’ intellectual property.
A recent report into Australia’s trade relations which has been a year in the making provides sobering reading on the extent of our reliance on Australia’s major trading partner and investor, the People’s Republic of China.
The Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth tabled a report titled Pivot in Parliament. This work was the result of an inquiry into Diversifying Australia’s Trade and Investment Profile.
It is worth noting this inquiry began in February 2020 before the impacts of the COVID-19 were felt, so the pandemic was not the impetus for this inquiry. However, the timing was significant because the pandemic helped highlight some concerning trends in Australia’s trade and investment profile.
Often, we are told, it is good advice when investing in stocks and shares is to diversify your portfolio and make sure you don’t have too much stock in any one industry or company. Like the old saying about having too many eggs in one basket, if that single investment fall over, you would lose most of your money.
Unfortunately, Australia’s portfolio has become less and less diverse over the years, and a big chunk of it is invested in a volatile stock called communist China.
It’s been a no-brainer literally for Australian businesses to go in that direction. China is a market we can sell to on an enormous scale and buy from at a cheap price. They’ve been a big buyer of Australian assets, too — agriculture land, property, resources, infrastructure — and there continues to be a great deal of interest in Australia from Chinese investors. Without intervention, it was inevitable that Australia would find itself economically entangled with this significant Asian neighbour.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in our nation’s approach to trade. China’s boycotting of Australia’s barley, coal, wine, beef and lobster exports during times of elevated political tensions has raised question marks over who we should choose to trade with and what the term “partner” means. It seems as a nation we’re more vulnerable when we put too much faith in the China cash cow which has turned out to be more of a dragon. That vulnerability is exacerbated when the dragon is irritable and hungry, thus we see the totalitarian communist state using trade as a political weapon.
The writing was on the wall a long time before the pandemic. The imminent China peril has been on many Western minds for decades, but it’s been considered a problem too big to deal with. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many of the background issues of our nation’s trade and political relationships with China to the forefront, we might finally have the will to actually pierce the China beast’s breast. It has gone from a problem to big to deal with to a problem too big problem to ignore.
But there is life after China. The Parliamentary Committee has considered opportunities for Australia to diversify its export markets. India, Vietnam, and Indonesia in particular present valuable opportunities for Australian businesses. As such, ensuring that access to these markets is available has got to be a high priority for the Australian government. Australian businesses should foster relationships and build the trade infrastructure and relationships with these new friendly markets.
The Parliamentary Committee also made some recommendations aimed at protecting Australia’s national interest and national security, particularly in sensitive and critical sectors. Notably, there are recommendations in their report that go to serious concerns regarding state-owned enterprises and state-linked enterprises funding programs in Australian universities and owning or leasing our strategic infrastructure, including the Port of Darwin. Given the ongoing tensions with communist China, it is an unacceptable security risk to have Chinese state-owned and state-linked enterprises involved in Australian universities and strategic infrastructure.
It’s a question of trust: can we trust the Chinese Communist Party with our strategic infrastructure? Can we trust the Chinese Communist Party with our education institutions? I don’t think that there would be any right-thinking Australians who would say yes. In fact, we have come to a time where many right-thinking people would say that something needs to be done about China.
In terms of foreign investment, the Parliamentary Committee has put forward recommendations regarding the need for foreign investment to be acutely in the national interest. These now need to be urgently considered and necessary changes made to secure our nation’s future.
Australia is a great place. We need to build our self-reliance and aim for levels of self-sufficiency. Gone are the days of rampant globalism. The dream is over. The nightmare of China now rises and we must respond.