Australia has been part of the tripartite talks on China, which has just ended in Sydney. The other two members are antagonists of China - historical, current & strong potential.
One is historical enemy, Japan, currently still unforgiven by and continuing to annoy the Chinese, and probably China's future foe. The other, the USA, is a wannabe China foe, envious of the inevitability of China assuming its future dominant role as the strongest power in Asia and a frightening trade competitor and oil guzzling rival.
Australia is in real bad company if she wants to capitalise on the Chinese goodwill and vast market. But Australia being Australia, whose foreign policy rests on its alliance with the USA, has virtually no choice when called up by its TaiKoh.
Bush neo-cons are questioning China’s military capacity, which the USA's already exceeds by a million light year. Rumsfeld had the brazen cheek to question China’s military buildup. As Admiral Richard Macke, commander of US forces in the Pacific, said in 1995 during the Clinton era:
"China is a large nation and a growing military and world power. So to tell them you can't have aircraft carriers when we have aircraft carriers I'm not sure makes a lot of logical sense."
He said that an inevitably powerful China "makes it extremely critical for all of us, not just America, but all of the nations in the Asia-Pacific to work with, and stay engaged with, China to have them become another partner with us in ensuring the continued stability of this region."
"What we have to do is make China one of our friends. We can't confront them, we can't isolate them. We don't need a security treaty or anything like that with China. We just need to work with them, to stay engaged in a dialogue."
But obviously, under the Bush Administration, the USA sees it differently from the admiral. Condoleezza Rice, current US Secretary of State, continues this American arrogant talk-down to China by labelling China as a potential negative force unless Beijing was more open about its military build-up - in other words, for China to be accountable to the USA.
Well, the world knows exactly which nation has a powerful military that posesses expeditionary capability, which has been used regularly in the most illegal and offensive manner and now, more than anytime in history, views this nation's military capability as a terrible negative force. And it's not China! Just one guess for you readers.
Please read my previous posting Rumsfeld Needs a Magic Mirror for KTemoc’s analysis of the Rumsfeld queries which Admiral Macke would undoubtedly term as nonsense and illogical. And have a look at China's 700 missiles vs USA 7,000 missiles to review who ought to be worried of whom.
Basically the USA wants China to be always in a militarily subordinate position so that it can continue to do what it feels like doing, as it has done in Iraq and plans to do with Iran.
As for Japan, it will have a future PM who will undoubtedly be a hawk wishing to reinstate Japan’s military dominance, and that's a frightening thought. By his provocative actions, PM Koizumi has laid the grounds nicely for his successor to continue worshipping at the Yasukuni Shrine, the symbol of evil Japanese wartime atrocities to rival that of the Nazis in Europe.
Koizumi has done more than any Japanese PM since the end of WWII to put Japanese military back on the international scene, albeit in a supportive role currently. But a supportive role can change easily into an aggressive one.
Koizumi’s successor could well be the Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe. Abe wants to revise the Japanese constitution which restricts Japan’s military activities abroad. He is keen to increase Japanese military profile abroad - no thank you!
He seems unrepentant about Japan’s wartime atrocities in his backing of official visits to the Yasukuni war shrine that commemorates top war criminals. But worst, he has close links with American neo-cons in Bush’s administration. A Japanese hawk working in concert with an American one would be bad news for China.
Abe's rival for the PM post is no better, as he's even a more belligerent hawk. The Foreign Minister, Taro Aso is worse than Abe on the issue of rightwing militancy. Aso wants not only the PM but the Japanese Emperor to visit the Yasukuni war shrine.
Aso has also frequently shown his non-repentance in his views on Korea, whose people had suffered terribly under the Japanese army. He doesn’t believe that Japan needs to do more to understand why its wartime brutalities and atrocities are the root cause of countries in the region fearing and objecting to Japanese rightwing behaviour such as the PM worshipping war criminals at the Yasukuni shrine or indulging in historical revisionism of its military atrocities in Korea, China and SE Asia.
Even though Rice has urged Japan and China to work out better relationship because of common interests, it's doubtful the two Asian nations will pay any heed as they circle each other warily. China has had the bitter experience of being occupied by a bestial Japan, while the Japanese are worried that a future Chinese superpower will extract due revenge for her WWII crimes. Competing claims over offshore oil and gas fields as well as trade rivalries also feature in their mutual distrust, dislike and discord.
Alexander Downer, Australia's Foreign Minister tried to put on the best spin in assuring China that there is no conspiracy against it with the setting up of the new trilateral relationship between the USA, Japan and Australia. He said that talks between the US and Australia on regional matters including security is natural, and while China may accept that as true, it’s unlikely that Beijing will see the involvement of Japan, her historical oppressor and bete noire, in the triad as anything other than a conspiracy, a politico-military alliance, to contain her.
In attempting to assure China, Australia faces difficulty explaining why the principal item on the agenda of the tripartite talks had been on how the three countries could tackle China's growing military strength. If that is not the start and talk of a politico-military alliance against China, then what is it?
Perhaps to mask the significance of the anti-China conference, and perhaps too at Downer’s insistence, the tripartite's press release made much ado about Iran's nuclear activities.