The Guardian • Issue #2092


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2092
Quill and ink .

Dear Editor,

When two China-haters write on ASEAN there can’t be too many expectations of a reasonable assessment of that organisation’s deliberations in Melbourne on 4 to 6 March.

The article (Sydney Morning Herald 09/03/2024), written by Peter Hartcher and containing large slabs of text by Rory Medcalf of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank funded by US arms corporations, lived up to my low expectations. It was a classic piece of arrogance towards our Asian neighbours. The authors turned everything upside down – the corrupt were hailed and the honest accused of dishonesty.

Australian superiority as exhibited by the Foreign Minister as “she rattled the China can” received a hero’s reception in the article. ASEAN was unimpressed and refused to join Australia in its habitual China baiting. A clearly disappointed Hartcher whinged that ASEAN “couldn’t bring themselves to say a harsh word.” These two from their Sinophobic ivory towers decreed that ASEAN is weak and ineffectual.

Medcalf joined in, claiming China was being “brutal” to the Philippines. What was the alleged Chinese brutality? A simple nudge between coastguard vessels brought on the description of China as brutal and bullying.

The Philippines President was lauded to the skies. The article revealed that the Philippines allows the US to access 9 of its military bases but was quick to claim that US support is only diplomatic not military. There was no mention of the military aid the US gives or of Australia’s military involvement with the Philippines to prop up its subservience to the US.

There was no mention that Marcos is an enthusiastic supporter of the US making his land a jumping-off point for a war on China.  Our authors could apparently not bring themselves to comment on the President’s growing reputation, like his father, for human rights abuses and corruption.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia received scant attention from our brave adherents of ‘all the way with the USA,’ perhaps because of his statement, “If they [Australia] have problems with China, they should not impose it upon us. We do not have a problem with China.” A man of vast experience and understanding of ASEAN was written out because he would not rattle the China can.

Yours sincerely,

Denis Doherty

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