Thursday, June 25, 2020

China-dependent Australia unwise to risk trade war with Beijing, says ex-Canberra diplomat


China-dependent Australia unwise to risk trade war with Beijing, says ex-Canberra diplomat

  • Geoff Raby, Australia’s ambassador to Beijing between 2007-11, says ‘Australia derives its strong economy from China’ and it needs to repair bilateral ties

  • US-style trade war may not be possible, but Australia will continue to seek other means to engage China in a way that shows support for Washington agenda, he says

Su-Lin Tan

Geoff Raby, Australia’s ambassador to Beijing between 2007-11, says ‘Australia derives its strong economy from China’ and it needs to repair bilateral ties Photo: Youtube

Geoff Raby, Australia’s ambassador to Beijing between 2007-11, says ‘Australia derives its strong economy from China’ and it needs to repair bilateral ties

Photo: Youtube

There is little chance of a second trade war erupting between Australia and China as Canberra would be “cutting off its nose to spite its face”, as well as jeopardising national security, if it tried to take trade action against Beijing, says Australia’s former ambassador to China.

While a trade war is unlikely to take off, geopolitical tensions will continue to escalate due to Australia’s loyalty to the United States, which is set on pushing back against China’s rise, and Beijing’s own aggressive
“wolf-warrior” diplomacy, Geoff Raby said.

“Could [Australia] take measures against China? I mean, why would we? It wouldn’t be a smart move,” he told the South China Morning Post in an interview on Monday.

“There is a big debate in recent years if we are too dependent on China but the reality is there is a massive complementarity between the Australian and Chinese economies.”

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Raby, who was Australia’s ambassador to China between 2007 and 2011, now runs Beijing-based business advisory Geoff Raby & Associates. In his 27 years of public service, he held several positions in foreign affairs, including as Australia’s ambassador to the World Trade Organisation.

The former diplomat, who has been made Friendship Ambassador to Shandong Province and an Honorary Citizen of Chengdu City, said “weaponising” an anti-China stance was counterproductive because preserving economic ties was integral to Australia’s national interests.

“The fundamental element of national security is economic security. It is not illegitimate to be wanting a better relationship [with China], it is actually core to our own national security to have a strong economy and for better or for worse, Australia derives its strong economy from China.”

Australia has a key role to play in contest between US and China

Australia is the world’s most China-dependent developed economy, with nearly 33 per cent of its exports shipped to the country. Exports of agricultural goods, as well as the sale of international education and tourism to China, are big revenue earners, while about half of its merchandise exports to China is iron ore.

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However, since 
China slapped a tariff of 80.5 per cent on Australian barley last month following calls by Canberra for a coordinated international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, pundits have started labelling the spat between the countries as “Trade War 2.0”.

Relations have soured further over China’s decision to suspend beef exports from four Australian abattoirs and warn Chinese travellers and students to reconsider visits to or study plans in Australia due to a surge in racism towards Asian Australians. Hundreds of Asians have reported incidents of racism to the Australian Human Rights Commission and other groups like the Asian Australian Alliance since the beginning of the outbreak.

Australia has not retaliated against China with trade sanctions, although it fired warning shots last week when it accused a “sophisticated state-based actor” for cyberattacks. Some parts of the Australian media have wrongfully accused a well-known think-tank, China Matters, of having its federal funding cut because it was pro-Beijing.

Even if Australia was serious about starting a trade war, it had no real means of doing so, Raby said. Inflicting damage on China by cutting off access to Australia iron, for example, would leave Australia stuck without a replacement market, he added.

“It is wishful thinking that somehow we might replace China with India but that’s not going to happen for many reasons, and China is many more times bigger than India economically and ultimately you go where the money is and China has the money,” he said.

“I don’t think we would be restricting trade [and if we do] the Brazilians will be more than happy to fill in the shortfall in iron ore from Australia and so it is not in Australia’s interests to do anything like that.”

While a US-style trade war may not be possible, Australia will continue to seek other means to engage in combat with China to show support for US policy, according to Raby.

“What is particularly pernicious is that commentators and even politicians are weaponising the relationship and delegitimising economic interests,” Raby said.

“There are some people, in the media, in the think-tanks, which I find quite disturbing, who see a bad relationship with China as a badge of honour.

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“If serious businesspeople speak in favour of improving a positive bilateral relationship, these people quickly get demonised for putting economic interests over so called national interests, so-called values.”

It would now be difficult for Australia to restore the 
balance in the relationship, a condition made worse by China’s own aggression in this affray, particularly in its economic coercion and its “wolf-warrior” approach of tackling Australia head-on in public, rather than through diplomatic channels, Raby said.

China’s rise as a global power has made many of western countries such as the United States and Australia uncomfortable, he added. In turn, China has chosen to headbutt its way through the confrontations because it has not been able to match American or Western European soft power.

In the past, Australia has not previously been afraid of being enmeshed with China and Asia in terms of trade, particularly during the “old order” where global leadership was provided exclusively by the US, Raby said.

Australia had been “shocked” out of its comfort zone and was still adjusting to a new system, he said.

“We will one day, but for the moment we are in quite a bit of pain,” Raby said. “And part of that stems from the US adopting a strategic competition with China.

“You might expect the dominant power to adopt that posture but we should not be part of that. We need to work out how to to develop for ourselves a more independent policy where we value our policies and principles.”

The fear that China would “somehow control the minds” of Australia’s institutions was also greatly exaggerated, Raby said, adding there was room to work together despite differences.

Although further economic coercion by China would be unproductive, Australia has its work cut out for it in trying to restore the relationship due to an ill-disciplined government which “says whatever it wants”, he warned.

Australia and China’s moment to set things right might come when changes potentially sweep through US politics after November’s elections.

“Australia has become a collateral damage in this great power contest,” Raby said. “What is in Australia’s interest is to get the relationship back on track.”


  1. Post-Covid this 5,000 year old civilization should be showing civility and leadership, instead it continues to Bully and Rampas, like the 500 year old civilization.

    Trade sanctions and pulling out their international students from Australia will cost tens of billions of dollars to the Australian economy.

    "Forgiving" loans to poor African countries for "Belt You Down My Road" projects, when actually it means the infrastructure now becomes the Hambanthota Port which becomes China's property because Sri Lanka could not pay for it...good thing the PH government negotiated a super deal for ECRL....

    Bullying India at their common border when clearly the Indian forces are inferior.

    Drawing more dubious dash-lines and Rampas the Senkaku Islands from Japan in the East Sea....when Japan had been administering them since 1972.

    Xinjiang, Mongolia, South China Sea, Hong out, Taiwan is the Main Course....Yum Yum.....

    1. Another pernicious fart from a blurred demoNcratic katak dibawah tempurung!

      "continues to Bully and Rampas"!!??


      As yr WASP indoctrinated mind sees them!

      China has shown the world how to fight covid-19 effectively. Yet most of the ex-master race countries couldn't take the lesson for their spurious racial pride - paid with the lives of thousands of down&trodden within their communities!

      B&R initiative has aimed to prosper thy neighbours, with long term cohabitation peace & prosperity along that trade passages.

      "Belt You Down My Road" projects"!!??

      Have u ever heard of Ebeye island?

      It's a slum of Pacific created by yr uncle Sam & guarding kangaroo to sustain the opulent lifestyle of The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site.

      The Reagan Test Site (formerly Kwajalein Missile Range), is a missile test range in Marshall Islands (Pacific Ocean). There all all sorts of modern facilities/conveniences (golf courses, shopping mall, hospital etc) built on the site.

      The inhabitants of Ebeye r the original Polynesian natives forcibly evacuated/removed from the surrounding atolls which were selected for nuclear weapon testings & long range missile targets in Pacific! They have been lived on that 1 mile long stretched land mass for 50+yrs. There r NO development on the island all this time. While the inhabitants r ferried daily to The Reagan Test Site to serve the military personnel/families. When night comes, they r ferried back to cramppy Ebeye slum.

      Familiar happening with the Oz, wrt the sopo economic developments within the Polynesian islands serving as his vessel states.

      Without China helping out, Hambanthota Port, Sri Lanka would be nothing. Similarly with The Port of Piraeus, Greece.

      No any other countries were willing to invest long term, to provide immediate jobs & spilled over business opportunities to the locals while the local economics r in shambles. The China B&R initiatives bite the bullet & invest.

      Just compare the fate of those Polynesians under the care of US & Oz vis-a-vis the Sri Lankans & Greeks lah.

      Or it's too much for yr petrified neurons?

      Belt You Down My Road? Mfer, mentions it to yr WASP masters lah.

      "Bullying India at their common border when clearly the Indian forces are inferior."

      Mfer, the incident happened inside Chinese territory, haven't u read?

      Who's the insidious bully, thinking he can exercise his inferior military in the like of swallowing Sikkim & Bhutan?

      "Drawing more dubious dash-lines and Rampas the Senkaku Islands from Japan in the East Sea"

      Blurred mfer, r u creating yr own history with the drawing of Nine Dash-line & the ownership of Diaoyu Dao (釣魚島)?

      Better still create yr own f*cking history of how Okinawa islands become part of Japan!

      Ooop… Taiwan isn't the main course. It's ONLY the appetiser for the full unification of what's ORIGINALLY belong in to China!

      Eat yr heart out lah & whimpering quietly under that fart filled well with its nonchinese mfer!

  2. CCP , not yet Number 1 , is showing all the behaviour of a Big Bully.

    CCP picks on Australia to Bully because they know Australia lacks the means to hurt them back.

    That is how Bullies work.

    1. Showing all the behaviour of a big bully?


      Picking on Oz?

      How come u couldn't see it as Oz picking on China on behalf of his uncle Sam?

      Maybe in the same MO as that curry puffer - China is easy meat with uncle Sam's backing(?)!

      Perhaps, this is how a intoxicated WASP cocooned moron like to think.

  3. a kiss xi ass trump alike amb-ass-ador. so many whiteman up for sell, who dare say cash is not king.

    1. Liken to u kissing yr 蔡妹妹's ass - just to vent yr demoNcratic ego?

    2. how many chinese died in galwan valley? democratic india tell the world 20 indian soldier killed.

    3. Financial Review:

      "If 20 were martyred on our [Indian] side, then there would have been at least double the casualties on their [China] side," VK Singh, the minister for roads and transport, told TV News24 in an interview broadcast late on Saturday.

      Mr Singh, who is a former army chief, did not provide any evidence to support his statement. [...]

      India's defence ministry spokesman Bharat Bhushan Babu refused to comment on Mr Singh's interview.

    4. most not ccp chinese outlet said 43. my question is when ccp going to tell their people how many n who died protecting their country? or this 43 just mati katak?

    5. didn't realise you are concerned about CCP soldiers? wakakaka

    6. i told b4, i support china if they dare whack usa n japs, of course not for the sake of south sea. so many died in a clash with indian is something unexpected.

    7. Did yr wet dream supports that claim of 43 Chinese death?

      The 台毒水炮 even have names - wakakakaka… making out of the heroic soldiers/generals from the CCP/KMT civil war period!

      In a politically induced skirmish, there is never anything to boast about. But those curry puffers r living on a different egoistic frame of reference ever since the shame of the 62 border war bearing down heavily on them.

      The loser ALWAYS has a way to claim moral high ground. Just like the Vietnamese bereave their 79 sino-vietnamese war death every year while the Chinese keep to saying/doing nothing about their effort in stabilizing the bullying tactic of the Vietnamese in Indochina.

    8. The fact of the matter is this :

      3 Indian soldiers died in the clash with the Chinese soldiers

      4 Chinese soldiers in total were injured

      No guns or other fire-powered weaponry were involved...they have reverted to stone-age, using sticks and bamboo rods attached with nails

      17 Indian soldiers also died, not due injuries sustained but mostly due to hypothermia (basically froze to death)...their military relief operation arrived way too late

      It is only recently, days later finally, that Modi decided to abide by the reasonable voices inside India warning that New Delhi should cool down the nationalism at home. He announced that "Nobody has intruded into our border, neither is anybody there now, nor have our posts been captured". ( Reuters )

      Observers said that initially, Modi is trying to respond to the nationalists and hardliners with tough talk...that Indian forces can take all necessary steps, that he surrender full power to the army to take 'appropriate' actions....very typical of politicians as a show of strength for domestic audience and boost the Indian troops' morale.

      The Indian media went full blast going to town that although 20 Indians died as martyrs, the Chinese side suffered heavily with 70 casualties.

      China, on its part, did not release the number, to avoid an escalation, knowing full well that any number less than 20, the Indian government would again come under pressure. But the Chinese mouth-piece, Global Times wrote that although China is being very restrained in its efforts to avoid conflict, this does not mean that China is afraid of provocation and aggression from any country, especially India.

      Indian economist Swaminathan Aiyer said in a report by Indian media outlet The Economic Times, that the gap between China and India military and economically is fives times larger than it was in 1962. Attempting military adventures in that area is asking to be thrashed again and humiliated on a scale five times larger than in 1962.

    9. no official announcement bec no ball to tell truth mean i can guess 430.

    10. jerk, all yr fact is from either democratic india n democratic west. show me so called fact from ccp.

      the chinese death is not from the first clash, name already divulged all over the chinese language sphere. go learn to read chinese la.

    11. 犬养 mfer, proving conclusively about yr hp6 understanding of Chinese culture of remaining humble, comes what may!

      But, u r not alone, all nonchinese + those 台毒 morons & HK 废青 share yr traces of China bashing with everything goes!

  4. Malaysia nearly fell into the same trap as Sri Lanka, but fortunately the BN government fell in GE14 and the ECRL project, which was clearly overpriced and totally unnecessary, was re-negotiated and re-structured with the Chinese side now forced to share 50% of the operational cost.

    Jan 29, 2020
    How China's Belt And Road Became A 'Global Trail Of Trouble'
    Wade Shepard

    China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), a network of enhanced overland and maritime trade routes better linking China with Asia, Europe and Africa began in 2013 with much fanfare and hope. Upwards of a trillion dollars were being put on the table to boost economic development in globalization’s final frontiers, Asia and Africa’s infrastructure gap was to be lessened, and the world’s second largest economy was taking more of an active role in international affairs with the prospect of creating a true multi-polar global power structure. With catchphrases like “a rising tide lifts all ships,” China stepped beyond its borders to an extent that hasn’t been seen for centuries—perhaps ever—and was welcomed by many emerging markets with open arms.

    But today, nearly seven years since the Belt and Road began, the story is much different, as in some markets Chinese investment has nearly become a euphemism for wasteful spending, environmental destruction and untenable debt. Many major projects are currently strewn around the world in half-finished disrepair and the opportunities that were sold to local populations rarely materialized. All up and down the Belt and Road, projects have been marred by delays, financial implosions and (occasionally violent) outpourings of negative public sentiment.

    In the initial stages of the Belt and Road, it seemed as if China was trying to rewrite the book on international development. The projects were bigger, more costly, and riskier than what the world was used to seeing, which created a buzz and sense of excitement: could China step up onto the global stage and show us how it’s done? While the news tickers sparkled with headlines of multi-billion dollar deals, big moves, and action along the Belt and Road, a broader view would have shown that a large portion of these deals were being made with countries that had credit ratings classified as “junk.” Making big deals with countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Malaysia showed the initial propensity of the Belt and Road to shoot for quantity over quality, expediency over transparency—and the reactions from this strategy was quickly felt across the entire network.

    It was in Sri Lanka that the deficiencies of China’s international development activities were first revealed globally. China partnered with Sri Lanka’s former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who now faces allegations of financial irregularities, to build a series of infrastructure mega-projects in Hambantota, a vastly undeveloped region on the island nation’s southern coast. To start, the plan called for a new deep sea port, an airport, a stadium, a giant conference center and many miles of new roadways. These projects were mostly funded with loans from China, which a few years later Sri Lanka struggled to pay back, as the country sunk into a debt trap of its own making.

    China eventually seized a 70% share of the deep sea port at Hambantota for 99 years for $1.12 billion. While this at first appeared to be a debt-for-equity swap, news later came out that Sri Lanka actually used the money to beef up its foreign reserves and make some other foreign debt repayments to save itself from economic collapse. However, the optics on the situation were entirely unhelpful, with headlines like “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port” echoed across media sources around the world as the “Chinese debt trap diplomacy” theory was born.


  5. The Hambantota fiasco put a black mark on the Belt and Road’s financing strategies and served as a warning for emerging markets looking to make similar deals with China. Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sierra Leone have all subsequently decided to cancel or downsize some of their Belt and Road projects over concerns of ending up like Sri Lanka. China’s bags of money, which emerging markets were ogling over in the early days of the Belt and Road, seem to have lost a touch of their luster.

    “As Chinese companies push deeper into emerging markets, inadequate enforcement and poor business practices are turning the BRI into a global trail of trouble,” wrote Jonathan Hillman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “A long list of Chinese companies have been debarred from the World Bank and other multilateral development banks for fraud and corruption, which covers everything from inflating costs to giving bribes.”

    When the Belt and Road was first announced, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak welcomed the initiative, and China quickly became the top source of FDI in Malaysia. According to the World Bank, between 2010 and 2016 nearly $36 billion was pumped into Malaysia by Chinese state-owned firms. Multiple big ticket infrastructure projects—including the East Coast Rail Link project and a massive port city called Melaka Gateway—were started, Chinese firms bought up multiple Malaysian ports, and bonafide mega-projects, such as the $100 billion, 250,000+ person Forest City, were being built with Chinese direction and financial backing.

    Then came the problems. News of the 1MDB and other scandals connected with the prime minister came out, as it was discovered that over $7.5 billion of government money had disappeared. Via Belt and Road projects, China had a role in trying to help the embattled prime minister cover evidence of financial irregularities by artificially inflating the costs of infrastructure projects so the excess could be available for other uses. This favor came with a catch, however, as Malaysia was to give Chinese companies big stakes in national railway and pipeline projects and permission for the Chinese navy to use two Malaysian ports. This deal didn’t come to pass, but it yet again cast the Belt and Road in a dubious light.

    There are many other examples of parties from China allegations of corruption up and down the Belt and Road. Bangladesh shut down a highway project that was supposed to have been built by the China Harbour Engineering Company due to the company reputedly offering a Bangladeshi official a bribe, Chinese development funds were reportedly allocated for Rajapaksa’s ill-fated reelection campaign, Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE have been probed for wrongdoing in numerous BRI countries, and the U.S. arrested the emissary of China’s CEFC Energy Company for illicit payments to officials in Chad and Uganda. A 2017 McKinsey survey found that between 60% to 80% of Chinese companies in Africa admitted to paying bribes and, almost needless to say, in the latest Transparency International Bribe Payers Index, Chinese firms scored second to last.

    At this point, it is clear that the BRI does not keep good company. In addition to most Belt and Road countries having poor debt ratings, they also tend not to fare so well in international corruption indexes. According to the TRACE Bribery Risk Matrix, 10 Belt and Road countries were deemed to be among the countries most at risk to bribery.

    While the lack of transparency and oversight as to what China is doing abroad was a boon in the early days of the Belt and Road, the initiative has lost support amid the scandals, debt traps and failed projects that have emerged in recent years. Countries along the corridors are now operating with far more caution and scrutiny, pumping the breaks on many projects and potentially setting the BRI back for years to come.

    1. So u like to quote a matsalleh writer with dubious wordsmithy sell out!

      Mfer, can't u use yr own petrified neurons to think out of yr WASP cocooned mindset about PROSPER THY NEIGHBOURS?

      I brought up the despicable sopo-economical issues of Ebeye islanders initiated by the Yanks & the bloodsucking slavery acts of the Oz on those kangaroo vessel states of Polynesia.

      They r FACTS about exploitations running for as long as u were born.

      Why ain't there ANY similar 'B&R' efforts to bootstrap the sopo-economical of these Polynesians?

      Yr uncle Sam & nephew kangaroo DON'T want to exploit the natives with "Belt You Down My Road" projects?

      Yet, that's exactly what they r doing by suppressing any developments on the islands so that they can continue lord over the natives by giving them crumbs!

      Mfer, talk to the Sri Lakans about the jobs, developments & spilled over business with the Chinese B&R initiatives lah!

      Ditto with the Greeks!

      Maybe in yr fart filled well, everything is hunky-dory as long as they r been managed/initiated/proposed by yr WASP masters. Any other efforts/initiatives r all "Belt You Down My Road" exploitations.

  6. Mmm...three blind mice at it AGAIN, hehe

    So who actually coined that phrase " Debt Trap " ? No price for guessing. This term was so lavishly used in association with all Chinese loans, especially those given for the BRI project, that it would seemed that Chinese loans is synonymous with Debt Trap. However, as one Sri Lankan wrote in his letter :

    "I’m sick of seeing this Chinese loans bullshit coming up as questions over and over again all the time.

    In short, Sri Lanka have a total of 51 billion dollars worth of loans. Only about 6 to 7 billion dollars are from China. The rest of the 93% loans (completely useless loans) came from sources like IMF, World Bank etc, all from Western countries ! Do we have anything productive coming out of it? None, nada !

    ROI of Chinese loans? Highways, ports, port city, power plants etc. highways are making profit, Hambanthota Port made over 100 million dollars in 2015 as reported by the Central Bank.

    It’s the Wickramasinghe govt that came to power after 2015 which reduced the country to rubble. Before 2015 we never talked about selling our ports. We had steady economic growth. UNP government with it’s neoliberal policies failed us miserably. Economic growth slowed down, currency depreciation, increase in budget deficit, took more loans than the previous regime from IMF without a plan how to pay it and how to use it. Debt that was lowered by the previous regime from 95% to 71% of the GDP was again brought to 79% by this neoliberal cohorts. And last but not the least, rampant corruption.

    PM Wickramasinghe is a decorated sales rep rather than a PM. He strictly follow neoliberal doctrine and sell anything that govt has. Before he does, he crashed it so that he can justify selling it. To name a few, Petroleum shares, natural resources, Sathosa, insurance corporation was sold for mere peanuts during the time he was in power between 2001 and 2004. I bet that’s what IMF conditions were too. This time, he has a different catalogue to sellable items. Before that he crashed the economy in order to justify and then blamed it on the Chinese loans. Every self appointed pseudo intellect peddles this bullshit theory without further investigation. This is what former BBC journalist Greg Palast calls as “Lazy Fuckism”. Anybody who doesn’t or refuse to parrot this bullshit theory will be called a Chinese shill or whatever.

    So no, we need to get rid of the failed neoliberals out of the government and embrace the inevitable truth. Accept China as our partner in growth."

    Here's another Sri Lankan with his commnet :

    "What is so bad about commercial arrangements for leasing ports, be it seaports or airports, or lands on which to build factories, offices by foreign companies or entities? This is not the same as giving up sovereignty as these assets are still in the sovereign country, under the sovereign laws. Compared these to US military bases, Naval ports and air fields who leased huge chunks of lands and built large infrastructures and the occupation by US forces, what is more threatening to sovereignty of a country?"

    Three blind mice...wake up morons, stop your lazy fuckism ! LOL

  7. Besides individual Sri Lankans writing letters and voicing their opinions on social media about the so-called BRI 'Debt Trap', this article here laid out very plainly WHY Sri Lankan debt borrowing is NOT made in China:

    As of now...China has signed co-operational document on the belt and road initiative with 126 countries and 29 international organisations. And the numbers will keep on growing...except for the US which opted out but it participated very vigorously in another churning out at least 10 articles per week for the past several years attacking the BRI relentlessly and smearing the loans given by the Chinese government as Debt Trap, its green-eyed dog-in-the-manger viciousness boiling over when more and more countries joined in.

    The idea of a massive transport network that spanned the world came from China but most people seem to believe that China is funding all the work. This isn't true as no nation alone could fund all of it.

    Some of the nations that are participating will allow B&R traffic to use their existing highways, others will build new infrastructure, some agree to build and maintain B&R infrastructure on their own in their own countries, still others have asked to use the facilities with no inputs. China continues to hold consultative discussion with all participants and welcome their suggestions...there is no hint of the US-style shoved-down-the-throats bullying. What we see is the emergence of ports, roads, rail and airports being added and linked up.

    However, China has braced itself with more attacks from the Western media, especially from the US, which at one point, even run a spate of articles proclaiming that the 'real' agenda behind this B&R is actually a military plan for conquest via B&R, all without a shred of proof of course. This is hard to believe and China has wisely played deaf and dumb, refusing to be drawn into this nonsense to allow the wild accusation to peter out.