Monday, December 18, 2017

Squeezing Australia

As we wait for the big reveal on the National Security Strategy, I share the hope that Michael Allen has over at FP that we have a clear-headed view of how China will use its economic power;
China’s economic strategy extends far beyond domestic policies. In particular, its Belt and Road Initiative — potentially spanning some 60 countries — aims to exert greater Chinese political influence in and foster greater economic dependence among nations in its immediate neighborhood and beyond. Separately, China has demonstrated a penchant for using economic coercion in support of its political objectives, such as curtailing economic ties with South Korea over its deployment of a U.S. missile defense system.

The Trump administration is correctly elevating Chinese economic practices as a national security issue. To build on the NSS, President Trump should build a framework through which to respond to a direct challenge from China and employ a broad array of national instruments. Use of traditional tools alone, such as instituting tariffs and blocking foreign direct investment, are not commensurate to the challenge and may harm U.S. business. Washington must improve intelligence to understand the magnitude of the problem, pursue sustained diplomacy, and generate economic defense plans in regions where China seeks predominance.
This is already happening, especially for those nations up close and personal to China, and a close ally of ours is a perfect example.

The Chinese are not being shy about wanting to put pressure on one of their raw material suppliers like Australia who are being difficult.

They are not above trying to corrupt any political system to their gain. Via FT;
The resignation of Sam Dastyari, a rising opposition star, follows the publication last week of tough legislation aimed at cracking down on espionage and covert attempts by foreign entities to influence Australian politics and society.

“After much reflection, I’ve decided that the best service I can render to the federal parliamentary Labor party is to not return to the Senate in 2018,” said Mr Dastyari, a 34-year-old senator and the first person of Iranian origin to sit in Australia’s parliament.
Subsequent leaks to the media included claims that Mr Dastyari warned Chinese donor Huang Xiangmo, founder of Shenzhen-based property company Yuhu Group, that his phone was being tapped by intelligence officials.

Although Mr Dastyari denied the claim, he became the focus of attacks by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who alleged the senator was “putting at risk the security of our nation”.

“Here’s the question for Sam Dastyari: Whose side are you on? Why are you giving counter-surveillance advice to a foreign national closely linked to a foreign government?” said Mr Turnbull recently.
Clive Hamilton, professor at Charles Sturt University, said Beijing had targeted the Labor, Liberal and National parties in Australia with donations in an attempt to win influence.

“This is not about ideology, it is about influence,” he said. “But the new legislation published by the Australian government shows they are getting tougher on PRC influence operations.”

In Australia both the main political parties — Labor and the Liberals — have accepted at least A$6.7m ($5m) in political donations from companies with alleged links to the Chinese state.

Both Mr Turnbull and Bill Shorten, Labor party leader, have been photographed with Mr Huang, who until recently was chairman of the Australian Council for the Peaceful Reunification of China, a body academics allege has close ties to Beijing’s propaganda division.
And they don't want Australia fiddling in their backyard;
Taiwanese daily China Times reported Friday Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy commander Shen Jinlong met with Australian Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, and told Barrett the drills were not in line with promoting peace and stability in the region.

China's admonishment of the Australian navy comes as a year of heightened tensions draws to a close, owing to perceptions in Australia Beijing is buying influence among politicians in Canberra.

According to Chinese state tabloid Global Times, Shen specifically said the presence of 1,200 Australian servicemen aboard six naval vessels during a drill in September 2017 had stoked concerns in Beijing.

China, meanwhile, has not stopped building sophisticated military facilities on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea.

According to AMTI, China has enjoyed a "constructive year" in base building, as the United States has taken a less critical approach to Beijing's activities in the maritime region in 2017.
With each year, China will assert herself against those she believes should accept their client role.

I don't think she will find it all that easy. With a NSS properly informed by this reality, we should be positioned to help back up front-line nations as they strive to maintain their independence from Chinese influence.

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