Thursday 28th of January 2021

kanbra in lock step with washington...

formal request

Australia has formally rejected China's territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea, aligning itself more closely with the US as tensions rise.

In a declaration to the United Nations, Australia said the claims, which take in the majority of the sea, had "no legal basis". China has not reacted.

It comes after the US called some of China's actions in the area "unlawful".

In recent years China has built bases on artificial islands in the sea, saying its rights go back centuries.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam contest China's claims. The countries have wrangled over territory for decades but tensions have steadily increased in recent years, with several maritime confrontations taking place.

Beijing claims a vast area known as the "nine-dash line" and has backed its claims with island-building and patrols. It has built significant military infrastructure, although it insists its intentions are peaceful.

Although largely uninhabited, two island chains in the area - the Paracels and the Spratlys - may have reserves of natural resources around them. The sea is also a key shipping route and has major fishing grounds.


Read more:

on a collision course...

“The Coming War On China”  –  Watch John Pilger’s Powerfully Relevant Documentary

“The aim of this film is to break a silence: the United States and China may well be on the road to war, and nuclear war is no longer unthinkable,” Pilger says in his 2016 documentary The Coming War on China, which you can watch free on Youtube here or on Vimeo here.

“In a few years China has become the world’s second-biggest economic power,” Pilger’s introduction continues. “The United States is the world’s biggest military power, with bases and missiles and ships covering every continent and every ocean. China is a threat to this dominance, says Washington. But who is the threat? This film is about shifting power, and great danger.”

As we’ve been discussing for years now, the relentless quest of the US-centralized empire-like power alliance for total world domination has put it on a collision course with the surging economic powerhouse of China which refuses to be absorbed into the imperial blob. The empire’s continued existence depends upon its ability to undermine China before it grows too powerful or the empire grows too weak to stop its ascent, at which point global hegemony becomes impossible and we are living in a truly multipolar world.

China has therefore always been the final boss fight in the global campaign of violence and domination by what Pilger calls the “empire which never speaks its name”. And the ramping up of anti-China narrative management by the US government indicates that we are being psychologically primed to accept this world-threatening confrontation, just as Pilger warned in 2016.

“The danger of confrontation grows by the day,” Pilger says.

The powerful film breaks down the way the USA has been encircling China with a “noose” of military bases since the Korean War, which all have massive amounts of military firepower, including nuclear firepower, pointed right at China’s cities. Pilger shows the psychopathic toll this has inflicted upon the people who live in the areas where the US war machine has set up shop in the Pacific, including an especially enraging segment on the use of Bikini Atoll natives as human guinea pigs to test the effects of nuclear radiation on people. Also deeply disturbing is the revelation of just how close the US came to launching nuclear warheads at China due to a miscommunication during the Cuban missile crisis.

The film describes China’s recent history and explains its climb in economic power which led us to this point, and the USA’s generations-long history of provocation and hostility toward its government. It also addresses the silly projection so many westerners harbor that if the US wasn’t bullying and slaughtering the world into compliance, China would take over doing the same.

Back in 2016 it was harder for people to see this escalation on the horizon, but now in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic we’re hearing a frantic, disproportionate amount of anti-China sentiment from the Trump administration and its supporters, in the same way we heard Russia hysteria amplified over the last three years by Trump’s enemies. Trump was politically pressured to dangerously escalate cold war tensions with Russia, and he’s now being politically incentivized to pass the blame for his administration’s spectacular failures in addressing this pandemic on to the Chinese government in a way which manufactures support for escalations on that front as well. Two different narratives, same agenda.

“The new president, Donald Trump, has a problem with China,” Pilger says at the end of the documentary. “The urgent question now is will Trump continue with the provocations revealed in this film and take us all to the edge of war?”

The answer to that question appears to be coalescing. It’s a good time for us all to watch this film.


Read more:


warning: we will sink your ship exceedingly politely....

Was it a confrontation on the high seas, or just a routine but unplanned interaction between warships sailing in international waters?

There are varying accounts within defence circles over just how stern a recent encounter in the South China Sea was between the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N).

On Thursday the ABC revealed an Australian Defence Force Joint Task Group had traversed the hotly contested waters last week, en route to the Philippine Sea for training exercises with the US and Japanese navies. 

The Defence Department still won't even formally confirm that the five Australian warships interacted with the Chinese military but has insisted that "unplanned interactions with foreign warships throughout the deployment were conducted in a safe and professional manner".

According to one senior official the Chinese were "exceedingly polite" as they reminded the Australians they were coming close to the Spratly Islands which have been heavily fortified by China in recent times.


Read more:


Read from top.

storing petrol in the chinese port of darwin for the USA....

I am surprised that the mediocre media has not lambasted our foreign minister for her horrid choice of attire when meeting Pompeo... Some sarcastic soul would have mentioned the Pompous dress-code distancing from a black and red covids on a white sheet... But it is the ambiguous freedom from the US psyche which really takes the cake: "We're not thinking like the US though we are doing what they think we should do, independently..." which is double-speak:


The two countries have signed a new “statement of principles” to further expand defence ties and have also agreed to significantly ramp up health and development cooperation.

But Australia still appears to be resisting a push from the United States to conduct freedom-of-navigation exercises in the South China Sea.

When asked if the United States had pressed Australia to conduct exercises closer to the contested islands and land features controlled by Beijing, Senator Reynolds only said it was a “subject of discussion”.

“Our approach remains consistent, we will continue to transit through the region in accordance with international law,” she said.

Last week, the ABC revealed Australian warships encountered the Chinese Navy while sailing through the region to the Philippine Sea for training exercises with the American and Japanese navies.

Australia has now hardened its position against Beijing’s territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea, labelling the activity illegal in a statement to the United Nations.

Senator Payne stressed that while Australia shared enormous common ground with the US, the two countries were not automatically in lock-step on every subject.

“Most importantly, from our perspective, we make our decisions, our own judgements in the Australian national interest and about upholding our security, our prosperity and our values,” she said.

“Our relationship with China is important and we have no intention of injuring it. But nor do we intend to do things that are contrary to our interests.”

However the two nations both “expressed serious concerns over recent coercive and destabilising actions across the Indo-Pacific” and agreed Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea were “not valid under international law”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commended Australia for its stance toward China, saying the two countries should work together to reassert the rule of law in the region.

“The United States commends the Morrison Government for standing up for democratic values and the rule of law, despite intense, continued, coercive pressure from the Chinese Communist Party to bow to Beijing’s wishes,” he said.

Fuel reserve to be built in Darwin

The AUSMIN talks also included an agreement to establish a US-funded military fuel reserve in Darwin, which would ensure American machines of war were not left stranded in the region in a situation where supply lines were disrupted.

It is still unclear how much the reserve is expected to cost or when it is expected to be finished.

Currently, Australia houses its fuel reserves in the US, where it is cheaper, but the Federal Government pledged earlier this year to establish a domestic reserve after taking advantage of record low oil prices.

Senator Reynolds said the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic meant Australia and the US needed to cooperate now more than ever.

“Today, we are both experiencing a profound change in the geopolitical framework that underpins our security but also prosperity,” she said.



Read more:


Read from top.

now where did I see these spots before?



I will play the nasty media when Julia Gillard was Prime Minister and savaged her for her dress sense, which was not worse than say Tony Abbott's wife... So here is my take on the unwarranted sarcasm...





Read from top.

not dependant of GPS and blustering....

China said that its BeiDou-3 global satellite navigation system is now fully operational and ready to provide high-precision positioning services across the globe. The system is set to compete with GPS.

BeiDou-3 was inaugurated after its final satellite completed in-orbit tests and joined the network earlier this week. This means that China now has its own independent global navigation system, similar to GPS, Russia's GLONASS and EU's Galileo.

China has been developing BeiDou since the mid-1990s. Its network gradually grew to 35 operational satellites, with the last one launched on June 23.


Read more:





True, the state-run tabloid has shouted headlines about Australia facing “unbearable consequences”, but has also noted that the language was milder than US positions of late. The condemnation from both the China’s ministry of foreign affairs and the Chinese embassy in Canberra was formulaic: boilerplate language that is more of a reflex in the Chinese system rather than anything noteworthy. While Beijing’s response has been far from conciliatory, it could indicate a more nuanced view of the US-Australia relationship. It could even represent a rethink of the utility of having escalating conflict on many fronts, including with Australia, India, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

Is it possible that Beijing heard Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, when she said, “The relationship with China is important, and we have no intention of injuring it”? This was not what US secretary of state Mike Pompeo wanted to hear, having just delivered a statement excoriating the “malign activity” of the Chinese Communist party, among other things China’s disinformation campaign around Covid-19 and the “crushing” of freedom in Hong Kong. The previous week, Pompeo had given an even more incendiary speech in which he described the prior strategy of constructive engagement with China a failure, and alluding to – if not directly calling for – regime change.

Some might argue that Australia’s distancing from Pompeo’s comments are lost on Beijing, which sees the world in black and white terms – Canberra being wholly in Washington’s back pocket and part of a US-led anti-China coalition. US-China relations are arguably at their lowest point in almost half a century. As the rivalry between the two superpowers intensifies, more and more issues will be caught by this zero sum logic – you’re with us, or you’re against us. To be fair, many in the White House hold this belief too. And the US has gone above and beyond to alienate many of its closest partners and allies.

But doubling down on this particular narrative suits China’s interests. It’s much easier to blame any actions Beijing does not like as simply a US-led plot to stem China’s rise, rather than a direct response to China’s own actions. On this self-serving reading, the protests in Hong Kong that triggered the draconian national security law were not a legitimate demand of Hong Kongers but a plot by the US to undermine China’s sovereignty. And Beijing can comfort itself by believing that Australia’s more muscular tone is deferring to the US in its cold war against China, rather than Australian concern about a broad remit of issues, from foreign interference to Huawei, in recent years.

As convenient as it may be to view Canberra’s behaviour that way, Beijing may have read between the lines. Rather than an appeal to Pompeo’s competitive instincts, Australia’s substantive positions on Hong Kong, Taiwan or Xinjiang have not changed, and are an expression of Australian values and interests.



Read more:



Read from top.

more than two percent aussie beef...

aussie beefaussie beef

August 6, 2020


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signaled that Australia won’t be “passive” against Beijing’s destabilizing actions in the Indo-Pacific as the communist regime engages in “crude economic or political coercion.”

Australia is also working to rebuild the international order in an attempt to strategically balance global competition in the immediate region.

Delivering an address at the Aspen Security Forum on Aug. 3, Morrison noted that the Indo-Pacific had become the “epicenter for strategic competition.”

Listing the tensions around territorial claims, growing threats from foreign interference, cyberwarfare, and economic coercion, Morrison said, “It’s fair to say that in 2020, our ‘international society’ is under strain.”

“The configuration of power in global politics has changed,” said Morrison, and Australia needs to “deal with the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be.”

The prime minister said Australia won’t be a bystander in this new world order and will deploy “all elements of statecraft to shape the world we want to see.”

“We will call it as we see it,” he said.

China, US Need to Uphold Common Set of Rules

Singling out China, Morrison said Australia welcomed China’s economic rise but that “global expectations of China are now higher,” and Beijing must accept that it has a responsibility to enhance and maintain global stability.

China needs to stop pursuing a “narrow national or aspirational interest” and instead consider the “broader global and regional interest,” the prime minister said.

The United States has always been held to such a standard, as it is a major stabilizing factor in the Indo-Pacific region, and its continued focus and engagement in the region was vital to the world.

“China and the United States have a special responsibility to uphold ‘the common set of rules’ that build an international society,” Morrison said.

The federal government has recently pivoted Australia’s strategic defense and foreign relations focus on security in the Indo-Pacific region. Currently, Australia is working with its allies in the region including IndiaVietnamJapan, and Indonesia to ward off Beijing’s aggressive expansionist activities in the region, as reported by AAP on Aug. 5.

In recent months, the government has also moved swiftly to counter cybersecurity attacks on the nation’s institutions and called out disinformation campaigns from Beijing, Moscow, and Turkey. Beijing has also instigated a long-running trade dispute with Australia, placing tariffs on barley imports and banning beef from local abattoirs.

Morrison said that in the face of these challenges, Australia was “not being passive.”

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. Now, we are doing in Australia,” he said.

He pointed to the July 1 announcement of a new strategic update that would see the country invest a record AU$270 billion (US$187 billion) into the Australian Defence Force (ADF) over the next 10 years, effectively pushing Australia’s defense spending past 2 percent of the country’s GDP.

Morrison said: “Australia already spends more on our defense than most of the United States’ alliance partners.”

“Two percent of our GDP is no longer a target; it is a floor for us, and we will spend even more … We pull our weight,” the prime minister said.

In 2019, several major economies in the Indo-Pacific region had defense budgets that fell below the 2 percent mark, including Japan (0.93 percent), New Zealand (1.5 percent), and Canada (1.31 percent).

The prime minister also outlined recent efforts to build trade partnerships with “like-minded” nations including IndiaJapan, and Vietnam, as well as strengthening existing relationships.

“Australia is resolutely committed to our Five-Eyes partnership, and our ever‑closer ties with our friends in Europe,” he said.

“We look to, and share a belief in, the values and institutions that the United States has championed,” Morrison said. “We respect each other as equal partners with the United States. We do our fair share of the heavy lifting. We’ve got each other’s back.”

Speaking on Sky News on Aug. 5, shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong agreed with the prime minister that Australia needs to generate the sort of region that is “not only stable and prosperous, but in which sovereignty is respected.”

However, she said that Australia needs to be aware of not just “a more assertive, more nationalistic China, but also a U.S. administration which is behaving differently to the way in which we have become accustomed to America behaving in the region.”

Wong criticized the prime minister, saying he needed to do more to assist the region, saying there had been an absence of leadership from the government when it comes to the Indo-Pacific.


Read more:


Read from top.


Please note that since the Libs came in power under Turdy Abbott, the "region" had been neglected by Australia — and even laughed at... Rather than wave big missiles like some big dicks, Australia needs a more intelligent approach and understanding... Ah yes I know, the ABC used to have a voice in the Pacific and the Libs, in their desires to destroy the ABC, destroyed the transmitters — and the "frequencies" were taken up by the Chinese... Smart Turdy...

et tu, brutus...


Wang Xining is not a fire-breathing ideologue.

In fact, China's Deputy Head of Mission has a reputation in Canberra as a bit of a charmer — smooth, cerebral and cultured.

But when the senior diplomat took to the podium at the National Press Club yesterday, he had a message to deliver, and he did so faithfully.

It's not me. It's you.

Wang started by alluding to the looming pachyderm in the room; the increasingly poisonous and hostile ties between Australia and China.

The Deputy Head of Mission put it in marital terms. A diplomatic relationship "takes concerted determination and joint effort to make it thrive", Wang observed.

"A married couple knows this!" he declared, raising slightly strained chuckles in the room.

But, he observed sorrowfully, "while a rift between husband and wife hurts one family, a rift between two countries hurts millions."

It's not clear which country is the husband and which is the wife in this formulation, but Wang made one thing crystal clear: China was the wronged spouse, and Australia the guilty party.

The main wellspring of this bitterness? The Federal Government's push for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

Wang laid out Australia's sins in some detail.

"First, the Australian Government never consulted the Chinese Government in whatever way before the [inquiry] proposal came out," he said.


"We don't think this conforms to the spirit of comprehensive, strategic partnership. It lacks the least courtesy and diplomacy."


Second, Australia's push for an inquiry must have been at the behest of the United States.

Wang didn't provide any evidence to back up this accusation, but offered a watertight nexus of circular logic.

"The proposal came at a time when the US was trying to [blame China] so the proposal would help Washington to put more pressure on China," he said.

And all this when Wuhan — and much of China — were taking their first tentative steps out of lockdown.

Wang said he struggled to convey "the intensity of emotion of our people, how much indignation, anger and frustration they expressed" at Australia's "shocking" proposal.

This was the moment he quoted — rather dramatically — Julius Caesar's famous last lines of betrayal penned by Shakespeare: "Et tu, Brute?"

It made great vision for the television news bulletins that evening.

But sadly, there's no evidence that Julius Caesar ever actually said these words.

And while Wang Xining's monologue was both fluid and articulate, it's unlikely to provoke a bout of self-introspection in ministerial offices and national security agencies across Canberra.


Read more:


Read from top.


Et tu, Brutus... wasn't this an interpretation of a situation, by Shakespeare?

suicide by shooting oneself in the foot?...

The Path to Economic Suicide Eagerly Pursued by the Australian Government

By James O’Neill*

Just as the first business of a business is to stay in business, so too the prime objective of a country is to maximise the interests of its inhabitants. From a country’s point of you, that objective is met in the trade area by selling its goods (exports) at the best possible price. What the countries leaders may think of the politics of their trading partners is essentially an irrelevant consideration.

When one looks at Australia’s trading statistics it is immediately obvious that a political affinity or otherwise with its major trading partners is not a relevant consideration. Eleven of Australia’s top 15 export markets are in Asia. The remaining four are the United States, fourth overall with 5.3% of Australia’s exports; New Zealand, which has 1.3% of the United States’ population, takes 3.4% of Australia’s exports; the United Kingdom 2.9% and the United Arab Emirates 1%.

China is by far Australia’s most important trading partner, taking just under one third of all exports, a percentage more than two- and one-half times the proportion of the next largest market, Japan, which takes 13.1%.

China also topped the data for being the source of Australia’s imports, being nearly one fifth of Australia’s total imports, ahead of the United States at 12.3%, Japan 6.4% and the balance, including the United Kingdom at 4% and New Zealand at 3.5% playing a very minor role.

These are the figures that need to be kept in mind when the politicians, and some others, make intemperate and ill-informed comments about China’s alleged conduct. The most recent example are allegations of a crackdown by China in regard to Hong Kong. This crackdown is almost invariably interpreted as being an attack upon Hong Kong’s “freedom” or “democracy”.

What is entirely missing from these allegations is an historical context, including relatively recent history. Hong Kong was seized from China by the United Kingdom in the first half of the 19th century and ruled by the United Kingdom as a colonial possession until the area was returned to China in 1997. It is astonishing in retrospect that a country’s own territory should be given back to it conditionally.

In all the constant criticism of China for allegedly threatening Hong Kong “democracy” the historical reality is completely absent. As a British colony, all the important decisions regarding the territory were made in London and implemented by a British appointed governor who ruled with almost untrammelled authority. Most significantly in the present context, the people of Hong Kong did not even have the right to vote.

One will search high and low for any evidence that Hong Kong was “democratic”. Hong Kong’s subservient role as a powerless colony, ruled by the British with none of the trappings of a modern democracy, has completely disappeared down the memory hole of western politicians and their allegedly free media.

Hong Kong was not the only stolen part of China that was handed back in 1997. An identical hand back occurred in the case of Macau, returned to China by Portugal. Macau has been absorbed back into the Chinese mainland and has flourished since ceasing to be a colony. Its economy has flourished since the return to China (after 400 years!) and it currently enjoys China’s highest per capita gross domestic product at more than US$82,600 per capita.

The relative importance of Hong Kong to the total Chinese economy has declined significantly since its return to China. In 1997 Hong Kong’s economy was 18.4% of the total Chinese economy, vastly in excess of it share of the total population (about 4%). By last year its role had diminished to being about 2.7% of the total Chinese economy.

This is not because Hong Kong has declined in absolute terms, quite the contrary, but because China’s economy during the same period expanded at a continuous real rate in excess of 5% per annum. In terms of parity purchasing power rather than the misleading comparisons based on gross domestic product, China has been the world’s largest economy for at least the past decade.

Australia has benefited from that rapid sustained increase in the economic power of China. Trade figures tell only part of the story. China is also Australia’s largest source of foreign students and of foreign visitors (ignoring the last few virus affected months). It is difficult in the light of all these statistics to overstate the overwhelming economic importance of Australia’s relationship with China.

The question then has to be asked: what country in its sane collective mind would go out of its way to annoy its most important economic partner, so vital to its well-being across such a range of areas?

Yet that is precisely what the Australian government seems intent on doing. It went out of its way to annoy China by raising the source of the coronavirus pandemic, explicitly suggesting that it began in China and was spread around the world as a consequence of Chinese inaction or deceit.

The origins of the current coronavirus are far from certain with powerful evidence that it in fact originated in the United States and was brought to China at the time of the World Military Games held in Wuhan in October 2019. Whether deliberately or inadvertently is an open question, although the political reaction of the United States to the outbreak goes far beyond the reaction invoked by the outbreak of previous pandemics.

Very few would believe that the Morrison government was acting on his own initiative with publicly questioning the responsibility of China for the outbreak. Again, the question has to be asked: what sane government would go out of its way to annoy such an important source of its economic prosperity?


It is not as if Australia is overwhelmed with alternative options to the Chinese market. Even if alternative markets could be found for its various mineral exports that are the core of his prosperity, those alternatives could not be created in the short or medium term.

There is a very good reason for China’s demand for its raw material imports. It is the world’s largest manufacturing economy by a very big margin. There are fantasists who conceive of a resurgent United States manufacturing economy, or that a United Kingdom free from the European Union will recapture its glory days as an industrial manufacturer. It is worse than fantasy; it is dangerously delusional.

One keeps coming back to the maxim attributed to Lord Palmerston. Nations have no permanent friends or allies; they only have permanent interests.

It is a maxim of profound relevance to the current government of Australia. The question is whether they have the wisdom and foresight to act in the national interest, or whether the profound stupidity of present policies will doom this country to a speedy and continuing slide down the world economic ladder.

The statistics about Australia’s rapidly declining status in the world technology rankings are a harbinger of what is to come.

*Retired barrister at law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at 



Read from top.

journos on the way home...

The ABC and Australian Financial Review have rushed their China correspondents out of the country after police demanded interviews with both journalists, resulting in an extraordinary diplomatic standoff.

Bill Birtles, the ABC’s correspondent based in Beijing, and Mike Smith, the AFR‘s correspondent based in Shanghai, boarded a flight to Sydney on Monday night after the pair were questioned separately by China’s Ministry of State security.

Birtles had spent four days sheltering in Australia’s Embassy in Beijing, while Smith took refuge in Australia’s Shanghai consulate as diplomats negotiated with Chinese officials to allow them to safely leave the country.

The saga began early last week, when Australian diplomats in Beijing cautioned Birtles that he should leave China, with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade giving the same warning to the ABC’s Managing Director David Anderson in Sydney.

The warning was repeated two days later, prompting the public broadcaster to organise flights back to Australia for Birtles. He was due to depart on Thursday morning.

But the threatening behaviour from Chinese officials peaked before he could leave, when seven police officers arrived at Birtles’ apartment at midnight on Wednesday as he was holding farewell drinks with friends and colleagues.

They told him he was banned from leaving the country, and that he would be contacted the next day to organise a time to be questioned over a “national security case”.

Birtles called the Australian Embassy and arranged to be collected from his apartment. He stayed in the Beijing diplomatic compound for the next week, where he was contacted by Chinese officials demanding an interview.

They did not explain what he was suspected of, and he refused to speak with them, citing fears for his personal safety.



Read more:



Read from top. See also:

pilger on journalism and defending julian assange...

stranded at sea...

More than 60 ships carrying Australian coal have been stranded at sea – some for months – while waiting to enter Chinese ports, according to analysts, with the Morrison government being urged to clarify the long delays.

Dozens of vessels are being kept waiting, according to the global commodity and energy price reporting agency Argus, which has been tracking the situation.


An Argus representative told Guardian Australia some of those vessels left Australia as long ago as May and many had been waiting in Chinese waters since September.

Beijing appeared to be “singling out Australian coking coal imports”, Argus said, with 86% of the coking coal waiting outside the Chinese ports of Jingtang and Caofeidian coming from Australia.


Read more:


Read from top.


See also: since when do echo chambers care about the real world?...