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Issue #1860      March 13, 2019

“Think Tanks” to be wary of …

The US-inspired campaign to generate hate and fear of China has ramped up in the past 12 months with the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, sanctions imposed on Chinese tech companies ZTE and Huawei, the exile of Chinese lobbyist Huang Xiangmo, as well as much dark talk of “Chinese Communist Party influence in universities and among members of the Australian-Chinese community”, and even darker accusations of people with “links to the Chinese Communist Party”.

Use of the media-term “links” should arouse everyone’s suspicion. Normally there is no evidence of links, they are simply assumed through guilt by association – everyone is expected to read between the lines and conclude: “spies/treason”. Remember all the people (mostly innocent!) with “Links to Al-Qaeda”, and Saddam Hussein’s “Links to Weapons of Mass Destruction”? Indeed, remember all the innocent Americans accused of “links to the Communist Party of the USA” in the McCarthyist witch hunts, whose lives were ruined, simply by being named.

The term generally indicates an effort to create fear and loathing by building an “all-around-us-enemy”, which usually means there will soon be a war in which Australians must fight (and die, and suffer PTSD, and pay the cost). The source of all the fear and suspicion is always, reliably, the United States, seeking to affirm and spread its political-economic empire.

Some right-wing Liberal politicians are seeking – rather like Joe McCarthy back in the 1950s – to make a name for themselves as warriors for national security by naming names and “pointing the bone” of “pro-China sympathies” to ruin peoples’ livelihoods. Backbencher Andrew Hastie is a case in point.

As head of the joint parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, Hastie is privy to “confidential” information on the activities and backgrounds of Australian citizens of Chinese descent, as well as intelligence briefings on Chinese companies and political activities.

Hastie can then use his entitlement of parliamentary privilege to accuse all and sundry of being “threats to Australian national security” with impunity.

Accusers like Hastie are supported in their revived Cold War antics by US and home-grown think tanks. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for example, based in Washington and presenting the latest CIA intelligence combined with an academic sugar-coating, is the most vocal sabre-rattler at the moment. Boasting names like Kissinger, Brzinski, Schlesinger and Tillerson on its Board of Trustees and encouraged by the Trump administration, its rhetoric advocates head-on brinkmanship with “threats to the USA”, even to the point of war.

Strategic think tanks and their aims

CSIS’ stated aim “…has been dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world” (website): in other words, to serve and maintain US imperialist hegemony. To this think-tank the very success of Chinese economic development and trade into the US is an affront to be crushed as a threat to national security. Of course, if it is a threat to US security, it has to be a threat to Australia, indeed, the whole ‘5 Eyes’ group of nations (ie the English-speaking world).

The primary demand of CSIS is that all Chinese state-owned companies be dismantled, or face sanctions. This is tantamount to saying any component of the Chinese economy that is remotely “socialist” cannot trade on the international market i.e. that the Communist Peoples Republic cease its current existence and become entirely capitalist, in order to lie prone to the same pillage by the West that once occurred in the 19th century.

Just as vicious in its anti-Chinese rhetoric is the Australian version of CSIS, called the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). Executive director of ASPI, Michael Jennings, issues repeated warnings about “threats” from China and the importance of bolstering our own national security. Like other “analysts” in this think tank, Jennings received his mandatory “insight time” in the US: his was a Fulbright Fellowship, but there are a range of scholarships and other paid university courses that ensure the correct perspective on world affairs is gained before employment with the Institute.

Prominent sponsors on ASPI’s website include Lockheed-Martin (US air weaponry); Austal (local naval weaponry); MDBA (French missile builder, responsible for the Exocet missile); Raytheon (a US specialist missile builder seeking to “break down the barriers that may otherwise deter local firms from doing business in the US defence market.”) In short, they are all weapons manufacturers looking for bunnies.

One very noticeable ASPI sponsor is a company called Thales. It is a European-based hi-tech outfit specialising in cyberspace security, and clearly angling for bigger Australian contracts to stop all the mysterious cyber hacking happening lately.

This “hacking” is apparently very difficult to trace, but the shock-jock-fear media has no hesitation in blaming China. There are already a welter of articles exposing our “pathetic” cyber defence systems and our desperate need to throw billions of taxpayer dollars into super-encrypting our computer set-ups. No doubt Thales is here to help.

US and China: a study in contrasts

Since 2017, when Trump announced his “America First” foreign policy, media lackeys throughout the western world have ramped up repeated charges to build fear and suspicion of the Peoples Republic of China. We have been told that the Chinese government can force companies like Huawei (a private company basically owned by its workers) to hand over vital intelligence.

But seriously, ALL nations’ security agencies (including ASIO) have powers to oversee and extract information from individuals and organisations based in their own jurisdiction. It happens everywhere, not just in China.

Most lobbyists from foreign shores engage in the same “friendship building”, philanthropy and networking as the targeted Australian Chinese without a peep from the media. If any foreign state has excessively interfered in the Australian body politic it is the USA – and the links of above mentioned think-tanks with our media, politicians, industry executives and yes, intelligence operations are all ample evidence of that.

Historically, it has simply resulted in us being drawn into too many wars to serve American interests.

Contrast the speeches and actions of Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping at the 2017 Vietnam APEC Conference: Trump accused others of “cheating” and warned of revenge, nationalist tariffs and breaking regional agreements. Xi explained the Belt and Road Initiative as a means of expanding trade, growth, cultural exchange and a bridge to greater understanding.

Indeed, since then roads, railways and ports have been built through Chinese initiative throughout Asia and Africa, while the US still bickers over a Border Security Wall with Mexico.

“US sources” complained they had not been consulted when the 99-year lease of Darwin Port was signed with Chinese company Landbridge in 2015. The deal brought investment and jobs to Darwin when little or none had come before. Meanwhile, four years later, the national security card saw phone-tech company Huawei being banned from supplying the proposed 5-G Network in Australia.

Local company TPG has revealed they may close down because the better technology of Huawei was no longer available to them and they could no longer cheaply connect to the old 4-G hardware.

Australia could well be stuck with a 5-G Network that is 30 percent more costly than other parts of the world and reliant on slower American catch-up.

Thanks to the toxic fear-mongering of arms-peddling Think-tanks and their minions, this is how the world is heading, now morphing into the Two-Camp suspicions and hostility of another Cold War, with yet another positive opportunity for global growth, understanding and peaceful cooperation being flushed down the sewer.

Next article – Imperialist in chief – A critical history of George Bush senior’s war on Iraq

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