Australian Economy

Australian Futures: Conventional Strategic Wisdom Versus the Long Economic March?

By Denis Bright

The strategic game of Chinese checkers has replaced the warm handshakes between neoliberal leaders and the leaders of Chinese government in the late Cold War era. Like the other member states of the US Global Alliance, Australia continues to combine renewed commercial ties with China with support for the strategic rivalries associated with the AUKUS deal.

Something must give way in this charade. Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined his demands to Chinese leaders on a recent visit. For the present, token levels of co-operation to paper over differences associated with technological support offered by China to assist Russia and US defence and technological support to Taiwan.

Like the Biden administration, the Albanese Government inherited a new era in strategic policy from another age which was taken up with relish by the military brass and the intelligence establishment.

Just three years ago Australia’s Scott Morrison was invited by the G7 Chair, Boris Johnston, to the summit in Cornwall between 11-13 June 2021. This time Australia is not currently on the invitation list from Italian Prime Minister Meloni to the 50th G7 Summit near Bari between 13-15 June 2024.

Even prior to the forthcoming G7 Summit, member states have all telegraphed their support for Ukraine with moral support, more armaments and use of Russia’s frozen assets to support in the continued war effort.

With US public opinion divided on the value of more support to Ukraine, the Biden administration is attempting to some progressive accord with voters. Readers can check on the transition in US global economic policies in this FT video:



Polling in the US presidential election race is still tight. Anything could happen in the next six months including the withdrawal of Joe Biden on health grounds as his 82nd birthday approaches just after the election date in November 2024.

Leaders in both Australia and the US are their own re-election strategies. Should the Democratic Party be returned to the White House, expect some cooling off in the Chinese checkers game if the new administration gains a working majority in both houses of congress to diffuse the polarization of every major policy issue.

Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers is quite candid in admitting the implications of tensions with China on the stability of the global economy:

Dr Chalmers warned of a “fraught and fragile” global outlook, citing slower growth forecasts for China, the United Kingdom and Japan in the May federal budget. Returning from Washington on Sunday, his meetings were dominated by the dual risks of the war in Gaza spilling into a broader regional conflict with Israel’s missile strikes on Iran and China’s deteriorating property market.

“Events in the Middle East are casting a shadow over the global economy, compounding the concerns about lingering inflation and weaker growth,” Dr Chalmers said. The exception to the global outlook is the United States, where the IMF last week said the economy remained “overheated,” adding to expectations interest rates would be higher for longer.

There are some uncanny parallels between the moderating role of the Democratic Party during the Great War (1914-18) and the future situation in global politics today in the current tensions with China. Nations can sleep-walk not extended armed conflicts. Although the isolationist Woodrow Wilson’s administration gained a second term in office in 1916 with a majority in both houses of congress, the sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania off Ireland on 7 June 1915 which created a groundswell of pro-war settlement.

Incidents like these can take place on the high seas in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait as rival vessels engage in daring maneuvers at a time when China desperately wants to keep its sea lanes open to global trade. This is the lifeblood of a thriving Chinese economy which always depends on freedom of navigation and BRI investment programmes.

The warnings from Bob Carr and Gareth Evans need to be taken seriously:

“The unhappy reality is that nations can sleepwalk into war, even when rational, objective self-interest on all sides cries out against it.

Bellicose nationalist rhetoric, designed for domestic political consumption, can generate overreactions elsewhere. Small provocations can generate an escalating cycle of larger reactions. Precautionary defence spending can escalate into a full-blown arms race. With more nervous fingers on more triggers, small incidents can escalate into major crises.

And major crises can explode into all-out war – creating, in this nuclear age, existential risks not only for its participants but life on this planet as we know it.

All this means that the time is ripe for reinforcing and consolidating the gains to ensure that they are not just fleeting and transitory. What is needed is an overt commitment from both the US and China – not just rhetorically – to living cooperatively, together, both regionally and globally, in an environment where both sides respect each other as equals and neither claims to be the undisputed top dog.

Such an accommodation is not the stuff of fantasy. We have been there before. The detente between the US and the Soviet Union, negotiated by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev, lasted through the 1970s. It delivered major arms control treaties and the Helsinki accords.”

Even major players like Britain at the G7 Summit want China’s current economic adjustments from the property market crash to become a strategic weapon to break the global profile of the Chinese economy.

Genuine apologists for China like Bob Carr and Gareth Evans point to its pragmatic commitment of its high growth economy to third world development and BRI Initiatives for our region. Such initiative will surely do more for global investment flows to assist with sustainable development than fleets of nuclear-powered submarines.

The tragedy of all these restrictions is even more alarming when they are being imposed on the world’s emergent largest economy. The proactive stance of countries like Italy in calling for more strategic controls is made even more outrageous when it comes from a stagnant economy with an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent that tolerates the presence of nuclear missiles on land and on visiting naval vessels.

Even development assistance from China to PNG or the Solomon Islands is perceived to be a threat to our own security. According to feedback from reliable media monitoring conducted by Google Bard, China has been offering health assistance to PNG since 2002 to assist with vaccinations and the training of medical personnel and controlling infectious diseases. One in twenty-four PNG infants do not survive their first year of life. Preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea are embedded in the routine hazards of life, particularly in remote areas.

Once again, regional countries are encouraged to take sides in the current strategic and trading disputes across the Indo Pacific Basin.

Further north in Laos, new freight and passenger routes from China to South East Asian countries must surely compare favourably with the saturation bombing of Laos in the previous Cold War era.



Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

Post Views: 473

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Get our latest downloads and information first. Complete the form below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

    Input this code: captcha