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Issue #1927      August 10, 2020

AUSMIN: the escalation of Aus-US aggression against China

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds visited US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Washington on the 28th July for 30th Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), and the next day released a joint statement.

Much of the mainstream media coverage of the event has focused on the details about which the Australian side did not give in to US pressure – conducting military exercises closer to Chinese-held islands in the South China Sea, and copying the US’ outrageous Cold War-style rhetoric about a righteous crusade against “the Chinese Communist Party.” The focus on these points of difference serves to promote the impression that “we make our own decisions,” as Minister Payne claimed.

However, this obscures much larger facts at play which demonstrate the very opposite. The joint statement released shows yet more indication that Australia is loyally following the US in its war preparations against China. The entire document is filled with allegations about China, reproducing every major slander by the US, including on the matters of Hong Kong, Xinjiang and cyber-security. It gives signs of a coming expansion of the US military presence in Darwin, and expanded joint military exercises (including other countries such as India and Japan) around the Indo-Pacific region.

Although the Australian diplomats did not agree to reopening a discussion about moving military exercises closer to the Chinese-held islands, the possibility of continued Australian participation in joint military exercises in the South China Sea remains open. Although the Australian diplomats did not imitate the language of Pompeo and Esper around “the Chinese Communist Party,” they did not protest Pompeo’s recent speech in which he threatened countries around the world to choose between the US and China – in his words, “between freedom and tyranny.”

The fact that the US regime is speaking of tyranny as it continues to suppress with police violence the Black Lives Matter protests against police violence, and continues to exercise its imperialist tyranny over the whole world with threats of economic and military attack against any country which resists them, is a supreme hypocrisy.

The Australian government is in a difficult position with regards to China. It is caught between political obligation to the US, and the overwhelming Australian interest in retaining economic ties with China. Payne and Reynolds are trying to have their cake and eat it too – consent to uphold US policy in every meaningful way, but make a couple minor points of difference in a hypocritical and futile attempt to make a gesture (not a friendly one, but a gesture) to China. China is not fooled, and this cowardly approach only serves to cast further shame on our country in the international arena.

The government has also committed $270 billion to military spending over the next ten years, which indicates its desire to have time to upgrade the military’s capabilities before the US war on China breaks out. This is a good reason to attempt to discourage the US from its most aggressive, deliberately provocative actions in the South China Sea, for a certain time at least.

The US has already started a war based upon a lie about an incident in the South China Sea: the US invasion of Vietnam was justified by a claimed incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, which has since been definitively proven to have been a lie by the US government. Since lying to start a war is a repeated practice of the US, their provocative actions in the South China Sea clearly serve to give a perpetual pretext for declaring war. By indicating that the Australian Navy will not take part in some of these actions, the Australian government only signals the need for more time to prepare the military before war breaks out.

The joint statement also refers to “the rules-based international order” and portrays the US and Australia as fighting to uphold such an order, while China supposedly violates it. Yet the only rule the US is interested in upholding is that they always get their way. The Trump administration has seen the US pull out of many major international, bi- and multilateral agreements and organisations, such as the Iran nuclear deal, the “Paris Agreement” on climate change, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Health Organisation. The Trump administration has intensified its unilateral blockades against Cuba and Venezuela against overwhelming international opposition, supported the Israeli regime in its intensification of apartheid-style policies against the Palestinian people against equally overwhelming international opposition, and made open threats of war against many countries including Venezuela, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This is not a regime which cares about upholding any rules-based order, only preserving its international imperialist hegemony.

China poses a threat to US hegemony both practically because it offers other countries a way out of economic and political dependency on the US – and has the military capacity to hold its own against US threats – and also ideologically. In Pompeo’s recent speech titled “Communist China and the Free World’s Future”, Pompeo noted:

“We know too that doing business with a CCP-backed company is not the same as doing business with, say, a Canadian company. They don’t answer to independent boards, and many of them are state-sponsored and so have no need to pursue profits.”

The concept that a country can have an economy dominated by state owned enterprises, where pursuit of profits is not the ultimate objective of economic development, is here expressed as something obscene and horrifying. And the US regime is quite right to view it as such, because it negates the entire political-economic paradigm they are devoted to propagating.

Next article – EDITORIAL – Judicial discrimination: police treated differently

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