US-China tensions expose rifts in Australian ruling circles
25 May 2018
Intensifying US economic, diplomatic and military pressure on China, and the Chinese regime’s counter-offensive, are fuelling rifts inside Australia’s government and the corporate and political establishment as a whole.
The Trump administration is threatening a trade war against China, while accusing Beijing of militarising the South China Sea and seeking to coerce North Korea into a deal that would endanger China’s strategic interests. Under these conditions, the US military-intelligence apparatus is reinforcing its insistence that there must be no wavering by Australia from lining up against China, its biggest export market.
Renewed accusations of “Chinese interference” in Australia are being promoted in the media, to try to poison public opinion against China. These are in preparation for potential military conflict and to hit back against voices of concern in ruling circles about the impact on the multi-billion dollar profits at stake for Australian capitalism.
Washington’s push produced extraordinary scenes in Australia’s parliament this week. First, on Tuesday, the chairman of the joint parliamentary intelligence and security committee, Andrew Hastie, a Liberal-National Coalition government backbencher, threw what the media called a “grenade” into recent government efforts to overcome a chill in relations with China.
Hastie, an ex-SAS military commander, used parliamentary privilege to accuse a prominent Chinese-Australian billionaire, Chau Chak Wing, of having “co-conspired” to bribe the president of the United Nations General Assembly, John Ashe, in 2013. Chau, whom Hastie declared had “extensive contacts in the Chinese Communist Party,” became an…