Source: wechat official account: Bu Yidao has been authorized to reprint
Write / Hu Yidao & Tiger knife
When Australia said “good news” because China might lift the ban on coal imports to Australia; When the first batch of iron ore settled in RMB arrived in China, and the Australian business community welcomed this change, a contrary signal was also coming.
Australian Defense Minister Marcus recently visited the United States, opening a four-day visit.
During this visit, Mars frequently sent the message that the Australian government was “rarely tough on China” after the new Australian government took office.
Mars promised to “strengthen Australia’s military strength” to avoid “catastrophic deterrence failure” in the Indian Pacific region.
One side also called on the United States to expand its military presence in the “Indo Pacific region” and played up “joint efforts to contain China”.
Especially in the “closed door talks” between Mars and U.S. Defense Secretary Austin, it is said that the two sides reached a strategic document, in which China was mentioned six times, saying that “China has brought major challenges to the United States and Australia”. In order to form a deeper military tie up with the United States, Australia may have reached some “private commitments” with the United States.
Some former Australian officials questioned that Australia surrendered its sovereignty and handed over its most critical national responsibility – independent war decision-making to the United States.
Australians can hardly afford lettuce.
According to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of statistics, the Australian consumer price index (CPI) rose by 5.1% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, a new high since 2001.
It is predicted that the tailoring average of Australia’s core inflation rate in the second quarter may record the fastest growth rate in more than 30 years. Australia’s inflation rate may reach 7% by the end of this year.
In the severe economic situation, some good news for the Australian economy came.
On the 17th, Australian finance minister Charles moss said that China’s coal ban on Australia may be lifted, which is good news for Australian exporters.
Chalmers also said that it is hoped that this loosening can be extended to other products.
Earlier, BHP Billiton group, an Australian mining giant, issued a statement that the Victoria, a cargo ship carrying iron ore from Helan port in Western Australia, had recently arrived at Rizhao Port, China’s main iron ore trading port, two weeks after departure.
After the latest batch of iron ore was transported to Chinese ports, BHP Billiton’s Shanghai Branch was also officially established, marking the Centennial giant’s intention to expand its business in China.
It is worth mentioning that this is also the first iron ore settled in RMB. Experts said that the launch of RMB iron ore trade marked an important step towards the Chinese market as a global mining giant.
The return of China Australia economic and trade relations is undoubtedly positive for Australia, which is suffering from inflation. The Australian business community is very welcome to this change. Some Australian media even proposed that Australia should cancel the appeal of WTO trade sanctions against China in the world trade organization.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner. According to the data, the bilateral trade volume reached US $231.2 billion in 2021, with a year-on-year increase of 35.1%. China’s imports from Australia increased by 40.6% year-on-year, reaching US $164.8 billion.
In May this year, Australia held a federal election. After the labor government came to power, it began to contact China. Bilateral relations have shown signs of thawing from a deep freeze to a glimmer of light:
After Albanese won the election, the Chinese leader sent a congratulatory message to Albanese, and a letter of thanks was sent, which was regarded as a precursor to the “warming” of bilateral relations;
On June 12, the Chinese and Australian defense ministers held a one-on-one talk during the 19th Shangri La dialogue, breaking the record of “zero contact” between the two countries’ high-level since January 2020. Australian Defense Minister Marcus said that the two sides had “full and frank exchanges”, calling the meeting “the key first step”, and “the door is open” to improve China Australia relations;
On June 30, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng met with Australian ambassador to China Fu guanhan. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on China Australia relations. Australian media commented that it was a “hopeful signal” and “another step taken by the Labor Party in managing complex diplomatic relations”;
On July 8, Chinese State Councilor and foreign minister Wangyi and Australian Foreign Minister Huang Yingxian met in Bali during the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting. Huang Yingxian said that China and Australia are “indeed different” and that bilateral relations “have challenges”, but Australia is trying to deal with bilateral relations in a calm manner, “contact” is the only way to stabilize China Australia relations.
But at the same time, some media described Australia as adopting a “one step back and two steps forward” repair strategy in its relations with China.
Albanese mentioned the Taiwan Strait issue in an interview on June 28, saying that if Beijing invades Taiwan by force, it may suffer the same failure as Russia.
On July 11, Albanese said that he would not respond to the four demands of China on Australia to repair relations after the recent meeting between the foreign ministers of Australia and China, stressing that it would only respond to Australia’s national interests.
In an interview with local television on July 14, Albanese said that although Solomon Islands and China had earlier signed a security agreement that worried the outside world, he was “very confident” that there would be no Chinese military base in Solomon Islands.
Some of the remarks made by Australian Defense Minister Mars during his recent visit to the United States may be a “rare strong signal” sent by Australian officials to China after the new government took office.
This is Mars’ first flight to the United States since taking office. Earlier on July 11, Mars’ first visit to the United States was to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which also kicked off his four-day visit.
According to the Australian, Mars said in his first speech in Washington, “today, there is no more important partner for Australia than the United States. The U.S. – Australia alliance has become the cornerstone of Australia’s foreign and security policy.”
Look at this “thigh hugging”, it’s too public and too numb.
Mars also acknowledged that the alliance with the United States has provided Australia with capabilities, technologies and intelligence advantages that it cannot acquire or develop on its own. He also warned that “the strategic environment will become more severe. In the changing strategic environment, the power of this lasting partnership is more important than ever.”
The reason for this “becoming more serious” refers to the so-called “expansion of China’s military threat in the Asia Pacific”.
Mars also made an important statement, that is, he promised to “enhance Australia’s military strength” to avoid “catastrophic deterrence failure” in the Indian Pacific region. And assured the United States that the new labor government will be fully committed to establishing a closer partnership with Washington.
“Catastrophic deterrence failure” here refers to who failed in deterrence? Obviously, it still points to China.
Mars said that the new labor government wants to establish closer ties with the United States, which is clearly showing loyalty to the “big brother”. It is hoped that the United States will continue to believe that Australia, the new government and the previous Morrison government have no difference in their position on the United States.
The Australian also noted that Mars promised to play a more active role in “repelling China’s influence in the Pacific region” because “China has been seeking to develop economic and security alliances with island countries in the Pacific region”.
From Mars’ speech at the center for strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a us think tank, it can be seen that the core message it conveys is to call on the United States to expand its military presence in the “Indo Pacific region” and render “joint efforts to contain China”.
To achieve this goal, Australia believes that it must build a more effective military force to deter China.
Canberra is also considering whether to choose the British design scheme or the American design scheme for its new nuclear powered submarine – this is the result of the trilateral security agreement “Orcus” signed by the last Morrison government. Mars fully supports this defense alliance, and also believes that “the core of deterrence is underwater capability”.
Mars also described China’s military development as “the largest scale we have seen since the end of the Second World War”. He also said that the military build-up in the Indo Pacific region “has never been seen since World War II” due to “intensified competition among major countries”.
The highlight of Mars’ visit to the United States was the meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Austin. It is said that the meeting was closed, and both sides issued a public statement after the meeting. However, the mystery of this meeting also caused a lot of speculation.
Austin and Mars both declared after the meeting that the US Australia alliance was “unbreakable”. They not only regard the strategic document reached by the two sides as an “Indo Pacific agreement”, but also as “an important partnership aimed at actively safeguarding the interests of the United States and Australia”. This document has obvious pertinence and directivity.
Some media revealed that the meeting of the defense ministers of the United States and Australia at the Pentagon also announced the next strategic goals of the United States and Australia, which is very noteworthy. The content of this strategic document is not much, but it refers to China six times. Arguably, the strategic goals of the United States and Australia should not be related to China, but in fact, they have pointed to China and Russia for many times, believing that China and Russia have posed two major challenges to the United States and Australia.
Mike scrafton, a former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of sustainable development and environmental protection of Victoria, Australia, and a former chief of staff and adviser to the Australian Defense Minister, wrote a paper questioning what the US and Australia’s emphasis on “interchangeability” means for the independent command and control of Australian military forces? What do Americans expect from the “availability” of the Australian Army in the event of a crisis? Is the freedom of the elected government to decide war compromised?
Mike scrafton believes that in strengthening the military alliance with the United States, Mars is likely to advocate that Australia surrender sovereignty and hand over its most critical national responsibility – independent war decision-making – to a big country. The difference between the military forces of the United States and Australia is disappearing, because the Australian Defense Force has become the “plug-in” of the United States, and Australia has become an armed base of the United States Army.
A military expert said that on the issue of strengthening military cooperation with the United States to contain China, the attitude of the Mars and Albanese governments is only slightly different from that of the Dutton and Morrison governments, and there will not be much difference on the whole.
Because this is related to the current attitude of Australian citizens towards China and the overall pattern of the Asia Pacific region. The political elites, defense elites and even the main group of society in Australia are Westerners. Most of their ancestors came from Britain, and some of them came to Australia later. Therefore, in political operation and defense system construction, it is the western set.
Moreover, Australia and the United States have a close relationship, not just because of the combination of interests, but because they instinctively think of each other and tacit. Behind this is the consistency of the basic cultures and values of the two countries, and Australia’s judgment on the current pattern of the Asia Pacific is also one with the United States.
Especially with China strengthening cooperation in the South Pacific, Australia has become more radical in its attitude towards China in the past oneortwo years. It believes that the Asia Pacific has formed a new situation. Australia can only follow the United States if it wants to avoid being invaded by China in its backyard. Therefore, we can see that when the United States encircles China in the Asia Pacific, the main pawns are Australia and Japan. And Australia is even more radical and more open than Japan.
In addition, Australia covers an area of 7.69 million square kilometers, but its population is only about 26million. This shows that the population of Australia is relatively scattered. The active army in Australia is about 50000 to 60000. In this way, the United States can indeed use some parts of Australia for military bases. Of course, this requires the Australian government to pass, parliamentary approval and other procedural things. But theoretically, it is possible.
The expert said that Australia is also very rich in resources, but its military enterprises just can’t afford it, and its level is far behind that of the United States and Britain. But the idea of Australia is that we don’t need to invest so much in our own original research, just rely on the United States or Britain.
Australia’s defense industry is helping those big military companies in the United States and Britain. The close relationship between the two is equivalent to that these defense enterprises in Australia are subsidiaries of major military enterprises in the United States and Britain, and part of the R & D team. In this way, driven by the United States and Britain, Australia is also making progress. For example, the “Orcus” alliance, in which the United States and Britain provide nuclear submarines to Australia, is that the United States and Britain are supporting Australia, forming a deep binding.
If it is really necessary, Australia can provide bases for the United States, including marine corps and Air Force bases, then the U.S. amphibious forces, F-35 fighters, and even some bombers can increase their deployment in the Pacific, which is equivalent to a forward base of the United States. From the perspective of the US Australia defense agreement, this possibility exists.
In addition, the intelligence cooperation between Australia and the United States is also very in-depth and has been integrated. Moreover, based on Australia’s geographical location, Australia can also provide the United States with a monitoring base for the operation of space facilities to strengthen the United States’ space awareness.
On the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea issues, the Albanese government and Morrison government will not have any essential changes. This is mainly the responsibility of the Australian Army, which has in-depth coordination with the Indian Pacific Command of the United States, especially in dealing with emergencies in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.
Therefore, the difference is the problem of saying and not saying, or the problem of saying more and saying less. The extent of Australia’s involvement in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea in the future depends on how the United States intervenes. If China and the United States really erupt in-depth confrontation and the important facilities of the United States in the Asia Pacific are hit, then Australia will certainly carry out rear support, intelligence support, base support and so on. Whether to send troops depends on the final negotiation between Australia and the United States.
Another Australian expert said that Australia’s thinking on China should not be based solely on the statement of the defense minister, nor should it focus on the fact that both defense ministers were so radical, but should realize that Australia’s perception of China now belongs to the whole government.
Not only the Minister of defense, but also many major political figures such as the prime minister and foreign minister. Of course, less than two months after the new Australian government came into power, the overall strategy and policies have not yet been fully formed. But so far, we have clearly seen that they are following the track of the previous government and binding themselves with the “Indo Pacific strategy” of the United States.
It can be seen from the trajectory of the Secretary of Defense’s own actions that after he took office, he first went to the incense conference, followed by the summits of South Korea, India and NATO, and recently went to the United States, which shows that Australia is in full accordance with the expectations of the United States for its strategic deployment.
In fact, not long ago, Chinese State Councilor and foreign minister Wangyi made four requests to the Australian side, including refusing “third-party manipulation”. This is very critical and important for the restoration of China Australia relations.