Sunday 10th of December 2023

china — a country with which we and the USA can and should coexist....

At a political fundraiser in Utah on 10 August, U.S. President Joe Biden described China’s economy as a “ticking time bomb”, adding that “That’s not good because when bad folks have problems, they do bad things”. It’s not only an unusually undiplomatic comment, but an unfair one that borders on the ridiculous. 


By Colin Mackerras


It’s true that Biden is doing his best to bring China and its economy down. The day before his “ticking time bomb” comment, he had brought in new rules against investments made internationally by the private sector, including banning those in the most sensitive technologies like computer chips. It seems to me that Biden’s main purpose in life is to preserve American hegemony and keep the no. 1 spot in the global hierarchy. As the country with the economy catching up to the U.S., China’s is the one to keep down.

Official and other commentators, both in China and the U.S., have reacted to Biden’s comments in various ways. According to the Global Times, Fudan University Center for American Studies Deputy Director Xin Qiang, Biden and other presidential hopefuls are keen to “distract voters from ingrained US domestic problems such as abortion, guns and drugs”. White House Spokesman former Rear Admiral John Kirby backed up Biden’s view and added that China had been guilty of “intimidation and coercion of not only their neighbours but countries around the world,”

For what it’s worth here’s how I regard Biden’s comments. I add that I was in China from mid-May to late July this year, my main reasons being to attend conferences and undertake ongoing teaching commitment. I don’t hesitate to base myself not only on statistics and economic and social data, but also on personal impressions.

First of all, I regard Biden’s suggestion that the Chinese, or more specifically the Chinese leaders, are “bad folks” who will do “bad things” when they have problems as not only silly but downright racist. For him as the leader as the world’s main hegemon to make such a judgment is rash and presumptuous, as well as undiplomatic. I don’t know who he is that he thinks he has the right to cast moral judgments on people because he sees them as rivals for power. All I can say is that my dealings with Chinese, over the years quite extensive, suggest to me that they are anything but “bad folks”. Of course, there are Chinese who do “bad things”, as there are people of all countries and ethnic groups who do “bad things”. But most of what I’ve seen from Chinese is that they are very good.

Two other points. Firstly, I prefer Xi Jinping’s focus on “world civilizations”, “world development” and so forth, and his quest for “building a community with a shared future for humanity” as greatly preferable to the American obsession with staying on top as number 1. I am well aware that the Western press in general sneers at Xi Jinping’s formula, suggesting it’s obviously insincere and merely a cover-up for a sinister grab for power. But I for one think it is quite possible to take him at his word. I’m not prepared to dismiss it just because the extremely biased Western media do so.

As for Kirby’s suggestion that China intimidates and coerces not only neighbours but countries around the world, numerous Pearls & Irritations authors have pointed out that China has only one base on foreign soil, as opposed to the hundreds of United States overseas bases, including in Australia. They have also pointed out that China’s foreign wars are very few and far between by comparison with the Americans, or several other powers. Looking at the broad sweep of history, it seems to me to be rational to think of the Chinese as a peace-loving people and Chinese culture as seeking peace, not war.

As for the economy, numerous reports speak of problems. I found among my students in China this year some nervousness about their future employment, though I would like to add that most seemed to have a pretty good job that suits their qualifications. Things are not as vibrant as the last time I was in China in 2019. The problems in the property sector are serious, as in other places. On the other hand, considering how recent the lockdowns are, I was struck by how well things are going, not how badly. I don’t pretend formal expertise in economics, but the whole atmosphere in China now is certainly not one in which seething discontent is going to lead to serious instability. In other words, I regard the suggestion that China is a “ticking time bomb” due to its economic problems as grossly exaggerated, if not absurd.

There were things I didn’t like about life in China. Apart from the frightful heat wave, I found surveillance going into the universities too widespread and unnecessary. On the other hand, my impression among the students was that they were very much able to think for themselves and are not simply arms of the state. In several cases I was surprised at their willingness to disagree with government policy, even when in the presence of people with the potential to influence their future.

We are already in a multipolar world. That is likely to be increasingly the case in the future. For all the hype in the Western mainstream media and among Western leaders, China is not trying to replace the U.S. for the number 1 spot in the world. Of course, it would like to increase its influence. It is very determined to defend itself. But it is not an aggressive power wishing to subvert democracies wherever they exist. It is most certainly a country with which we can and should coexist. From my point of view, we should regard it not as a country that we can profit from but don’t really trust, but as a friend.


FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW.................

kiddies for war?.....

 Nuclear subs challenge trains 10 year old children for warBy Sue Wareham


It’s time for education ministers across the country to show leadership and protect our children from vested interests and pro-war propaganda. 

On 19 June, the Defence Department launched its Nuclear-Powered Submarine Propulsion Challenge, for years 7 – 12 students across the nation. The program seeks to engage the enthusiasm of young people for the complex and hugely controversial nuclear submarine program, in the hope that some of the students will want to contribute to this form of war-fighting when they leave school.

The nuclear submarine proposal has implications that go far beyond the understanding of the students targeted for this program (which include those as young as 11 years). They include the nuclear weapons proliferation potential, the consequences of a war – possibly nuclear war – with China, for which the submarines are planned, the problem of high-level, long-lived nuclear waste for which there is no solution anywhere, and the matter of what else will suffer financially as we attempt the gargantuan task of paying for this program. In the absence of any awareness or understanding of this context, the schools program is little more than propaganda.

The program fits with the growing prevalence of private weapons company-sponsored STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) programs in schools. Their purpose is to create positive brand name associations, such as happy memories, from which can flow varying degrees of attachment to the corporate brand. Company logos are displayed on all materials, and there is often direct contact between students, teachers and company representatives. An underfunded public education system is perfect for the companies’ purposes, because overstretched teachers will welcome material that might make their job a little easier.

There is ample evidence that children are very susceptible to the creation of positive associations with an advertised product. Even into adolescence, children don’t necessarily have the skills to critically assess the intentions behind persuasive marketing tactics, or understand what a brand or product really represents.

The militarisation of STEM education is not confined to our schools (and universities, which comprise a huge network in themselves of weapons company partnerships). The National Youth Science Forum has as its primary sponsor Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest weapons maker. The Questacon National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra receives major funding for its Engineering is Elementary program from the Defence Department, with ADF engineers being actively involved in delivering the program.

The industry’s need is for a workforce socialised to accept warfare as inevitable and the industry itself as always a force for good. The “Minors and Missiles” report of the Medical Association for Prevention of War outlines the problem, its extent in Australia and how it can be addressed. The new organisation Teachers for Peace works to this end also.

In relation to the nuclear submarine challenge for schools, on 1 July the Adelaide Advertiser published an article “Kids, 10, training for to build a workforce for AUKUS, SA’s $368bn nuclear submarine project”, about the Beacon program in some schools, run in conjunction with weapons giant BAE Systems. Among other activities, it allows students to virtually load and fire weaponry, one student stating “It’s a lot more fun, it’s like playing a video game but it’s a lot more educational”. Such presentation of warfare and its associated hardware to children as a game – which extends also to our war commemoration – is an abuse of their right to aspire to live in a peaceful society.

An additional concern with the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Propulsion Challenge is that it anti-democratically circumvents strong community opposition to a technology – nuclear power – which has been consistently rejected by the Australian people. Barely a person in the country, including in our parliament, was even asked about the nuclear submarines, and yet the opposition to the proposal is strong, with much highly critical commentary. To ignore all that and go straight to the next generation with exciting prizes is reprehensible.

On 31 August, the Federal Executive of the Australian Education Union (AEU) passed a strong resolution reaffirming the AEU’s deep commitment to peace and its opposition to militarism. In relation to the nuclear submarine challenge, the resolution stated that the AEU “condemns this program, and the use of Australian schools by the Defence Department, in drawing secondary students into the government’s development of new industries focused on armament manufacture and industries associated with warfare.”

It continued “A politicised pro-AUKUS curriculum has no place in our schools, alongside other private industries who attempt to use schools as a vehicle for promotion of their own products and profits hidden behind spurious educational benefits for students.”

The AEU is to be applauded. It’s time for education ministers across the country to show the same leadership in protecting our children from vested interests and pro-war propaganda.






biden lies.....

The US president arrived in Hanoi late Sunday after wrapping up his visit to New Delhi, India for the G20 summit. China’s Foreign Ministry warned the US ahead of the Hanoi trip that Beijing would not accept any new attempts to “undermin[e] regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.”

President Joe Biden told journalists Sunday that he’s not looking to “contain China” as the White House announced a major upgrade to US-Vietnamese relations, including in the security sphere.

“Really what this trip is about, it’s less about containing China, I don’t want to contain China. I just want to make sure we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up, squared away, everybody knows what it’s all about,” Biden said, speaking at a press conference in Hanoi.



“And one of the ways you do that is you make sure that we are talking about the same things. And I think that one of the things we’ve done – I’ve tried to do…is we have an opportunity to strengthen alliances around the world to maintain stability. That’s what this trip is all about. Having India cooperate much more with the United States, be closer to the United States, Vietnam being closer to the United States. It’s not about containing China. It’s about having a stable base in the Indo-Pacific,” Biden said.


The president did not elaborate on what sort of “base” he was talking about.

The same principle applies to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, an Indo-Pacific pact formed in 2017 and including the US, Australia, India, and Japan, Biden said.



“For example, when I was spending a lot of time talking with President Xi, he asked why we were doing, why was I going to have the QUAD...And I said to maintain stability. It’s not about isolating China, it’s about making sure that the rules of the road – everything from airspace and space in the ocean and the international rules of the road are, are, are, are, are abided by. And so, and I hope that, I think that Prime Minister Xi, I mean Xi, has some difficulties right now…I want see China succeed economically, but I want see them succeed by the rules,” Biden said.


The US and Vietnam formally elevated their relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership on Sunday, with the White House releasing an explanatory document indicating that the new status would include a new semiconductor supply chain partnership, a science and technology research agreement, increased people-to-people ties in education, and deepened trade and investment ties in agriculture, loans, climate, human rights, health, rare earth minerals, and energy.

The strategic pact also highlights a US commitment to “deepen” security cooperation with Vietnam, including through the provision of nearly $9 million for programs and equipment “to build Vietnamese capacity to fight regional and transnational crime,” and improve “maritime domain awareness, port facility security, cargo security, and…ability to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”

Finally, Washington also pledges to provide additional financial support to Hanoi in dealing with the legacy of the Vietnam War, including through a technology-led initiative to identify remains, a dioxin remediation initiative around the Bien Hoa Air Base area, $25 million for unexploded ordnance clearance, and USAID assistance to people born with severe disabilities thanks to US dioxin use.