Friday 14th of June 2024

pages of the incessant aussie war book.....

It is extremely hard to kill off a public figure of the calibre of Mike Pezzullo. As with a person of similar personality, Tony Abbott, one can be sure they are out of the play for good only when their bodies lie at a crossroads at midnight, with a wooden stake through their hearts. Before that, their bloody, broken and bruised bodies may be on display, having suffered pains, indignities and humiliations no other person could survive. But while there is even a glimmer of a pulse, they are plotting their comebacks.


The Anti-China War Book: Pezzullo hears the call again    By Jack Waterford


They may be writhing on the ground as the mob celebrates what they regard as their fall. Soon, charity, or decency, may bring a silence, if only to permit the guilty the dignity of donning sackcloth and cilice and retiring to a monastery. But a year of penance is surely enough, he judges. Or at least, his country needs him now.

The resilience, indomitability and lack of shame is not only a matter of ego and narcissism, though I have never seen such cases where there has not been an ample quantity of both. It is because they are thinkers – not necessarily good ones – and place great stock on the survival of their ideas, and the need for them to return to propagate them. They are not put off by being ignored. They are not deterred by being treated with contempt. Nor even by being proven wrong or out of touch with expert and public opinion. They may not even seem to notice the slights or the disregard, but they typically return it without pity when or if they get to the top again.

Most politicians and senior public service managers have strong self-belief and healthy egos – even elements of the sociopath – about them. But the modern variety – particularly at the top – are not usually associated with either a philosophy of action, a theory of good or effective policy, or a capacity or a drive to follow their convictions regardless of the evidence or the circumstances.

Not many departmental secretaries are known for any ideas, deep expertise and experience in any particular field of policy (including economics). Although most served with previous governments with the same loyalty and integrity as with the present one, few are remembered for ever standing up to a minister, or for a principle. Mostly they are managers, rather than leaders, good at organising people or things to the government’s will, but not discernibly adding much value or personality to the process.

They leave no monuments. They may be models of good behaviour, without ever providing an external or internal example. They don’t even leave fingerprints, in the form of materials showing their role in the planning, devising and implementation of policy or program. Occasionally some political and administrative debacle and malfeasance such as Robodebt or Pezzullo’s toadying will have their bad bits featured. But even then, the shameful and unaccountable processes of the public service commission and indefinite delay can usually smother scandal and keep the public in the dark. As intended, the public service commission pretends, by what are proclaimed to be public service values.

Never backward or tactful in coming forward

No-one could ever see Mike Pezzullo as an example of this mould. He was well-known, even before any misdeeds saw him the subject of a public service inquiry, found guilty of public service misdemeanours about which the public is not allowed to know, other than that they involved matters going to his character and his honesty. The sins also included his having a plainly improper backchannel to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to whom he conveyed frankly political advice, some designed for his own advantage. Prime minister Anthony Albanese sacked him after reading the secret report.

It should be noted that even if the information, compliments, and lobbying going via a Liberal Party lobbyist to Turnbull were self-serving, it was also designed to protect the empire he had established (with the help of Turnbull) and the policies he implemented, chiefly through Peter Dutton. The exchanges also made clear that if Pezzullo himself was to be moved on for his loyal service, he would love to be secretary of defence, if not the department of prime minister and cabinet. He was scathing of the abilities of many of his peers.

One might expect that Pezzullo and Pezzulloism were completely dead. He seemed to pass into complete obscurity and well-deserved disgrace. There has been little apparent change in the activities or competence of his home affairs department. Public relations want us to believe his management style is a thing of the past. So too his habit of making gloomy pronouncements out of his portfolio.

This week, however, he was appearing in The Australian calling for more preparation for war. It was enclosed within a typically gloomy Pezzullo reading of the tea leaves and seeing gloom wherever he went. But its special twist, perhaps from the perspectives he developed as he came to fancy himself as the domestic coordinator of the war effort is the need for the revival of the War Book, and an upgrading of efforts to integrate civilian capacities into our arrangements for what would happen if we were attacked by, say, China.

“The end of the Cold War has led to the atomisation of threats – many of these threat groups possess weapons and backing from powerful regional states that in some cases make them as powerful as state-based actors,” he told members of the Williams Foundation.

“Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Middle East, where improved military capabilities are combined with an ideological zealotry that makes normal cost-benefit calculations underpinning deterrence difficult. That makes it difficult for Washington to achieve the type of deterrence on which long-term regional stability is often based.

“And the direct threat to Australia is broad and not narrowly focused on what the Australian Defence Force can do. A sustainable force and a resilient Australia are beyond the scope of narrowly considered defence investments in a ready force. They are all-of-government and all-of-society challenges.”

Focusing the national mind

The war book involves what would have to occur to mobilise and coordinate civilian resources in order to put Australia on a war footing. Pezzulo thinks the very act of preparing such a book could help “focus the national mind.”

“The most important question is whether a nation at large has the structures, capabilities and above all, the mindset and the will that are required to fight and keep fighting to absorb, recover, endure and prevail. These cannot be put in place or engendered on the eve of the storm.”

No doubt some of his ideas about a war book and civilian mobilisation come from his time at home affairs, particularly when the AFP and ASIO were in the portfolio, where he could imagine himself as being at the centre of national security.

Of course, the fact of Pezzullo being in disgrace does not disqualify him from the right to have an opinion, or mean that his ideas are wrong-headed, irrelevant or silly. They stand on their own merit, bearing in mind that he has a background in defence, and has long seen the world as being in deep existential crisis, able, usually to be addressed only by his deep insights. His pessimism, tendency to gloom and apocalyptic scenarios, and Manichean cast of thinking may particularly suit him for anticipating the future of the western alliance should Donald Trump be elected in November. They are of similar perspectives on many things, including the risks of immigration and refugees.

What’s clear, in any event, is that Pezzullo wants back in. He wants to become a player again. Perhaps he is realist enough to appreciate that there is no comeback from the inquiries into him (some of which may be ongoing). But he wants to be back in the debate, allowed to offer his strongly held opinions, to run over those with differing ones, and perhaps with some discretionary access to Top Secret intelligence so that his warnings to the world are up to the minute.

It is obvious he can’t be put back in charge of a department. Experience has, in any event, shown this not to be his strong suit. But could he be allowed to become a grey eminence, giving counsel and the benefit of his experience and specialist understanding of world history and politics to less experienced players?

He has, after all, reminded captive audiences that he might be a shy and retiring professor of history now had he not felt impelled by duty to thrust himself into the defence of the nation. That might still be an option, were any institution to need his expertise. The university character tests would have to be administered with more compassion than was ever counselled by his old department. But it could be disappointing were the nation’s guardians to be deprived of his mastery and command of the important issues.

Perhaps even to be allowed to scribble TOP SECRET or AUSTRALIAN EYES ONLY on the top of friendly notes to senior spooks and defence chieftains, offering his expert and uncensored view on what they should do, what they should tell their ministers, and how they should rebuff the sinister and disloyal views of people who don’t appreciate our mortal danger. Many of these, no doubt, have been missing his expert advice during his exile over the past year.

I expect that not all will welcome him back into the fold. Pezzullo, as a personality, a player and as an analyst is an acquired taste. Not all his old colleagues have appreciated his freely volunteered assessments of their intelligence, character or proper place in the national security ecosystem. Not all would feel that the contest for attention and resources within that system has been missing anything much without his thoughtful interventions at critical moments.

Perhaps it’s a little early for public rehabilitation.















it's time for being earnest.....

down and up.....


The US Cries Out in Pain as It Threatens You and Accuses You of Being “Evil”


Don’t forget that China is the real aggressor.

Let’s just keep saying that, while top US officials issue nigh daily threats against the Chinese.

Jew Blinken’s latest threats come just two days after four-eyed closeted faggot Mike Johnson called Chinese people “evil” and declared he was sending money to support a war in Taiwan.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken intends to warn Chinese officials of consequences for exporting materials to Russia with potential military applications, when he travels to Beijing on Wednesday.

Blinken, who is scheduled to make stops in Beijing and Shanghai during a three-day trip to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), plans to meet with Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He will “reiterate deep concerns regarding the PRC’s support for Russia’s defense industrial base,” a US State Department spokesman told reporters.

At issue are China’s exports of machine tools, microelectronics, optics, and other products that could be used to make weapons amid the conflict in Ukraine. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued a similar warning when she visited China earlier this month.

Yeah, that old Jew was in a hallway issuing threats just a couple weeks ago.

All these people do is threaten.

China doesn’t come to Washington and threaten the US to stop funding the Ukraine war, or to stop the genocide in Palestine.

People who issue endless threats are not serious people. Serious people just do things.

The concern there is that through Chinese support, Russia has largely reconstituted its defense industrial base, which has an impact not just on the battlefield in Ukraine, but poses a larger threat, we believe, to broader European security,” the State Department spokesman said. “So that’s deeply concerning to us. We’ll express those concerns to China, and we will express our intent to have China curtail that support.”

What’s “deeply concerning” is how nervous you look, Jew.

Why are you so nervous?

The State Department has warned that it will take “further steps as necessary” to deter China from aiding Russia’s defense industry. “We’re committed to taking the steps necessary to defend our national interests, and we’re prepared to take steps when we believe necessary against firms that are taking steps in contravention to our interests and in ways that – as we’ve indicated here – severely undermine security in both Ukraine and Europe,” the spokesman said.

Blinken raised the issue when he met with G7 leaders earlier this week in Italy. He will not specify the potential punishments during talks in Beijing, but new sanctions could target Chinese financial institutions, the Financial Times reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The US is being “very direct” about its concerns and will “hold China accountable” for its actions in providing dual-use technologies to Russia while trying to strengthen its ties with Europe, Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said. “What we’ve tried to underscore with European and Chinese interlocutors is that these dual objectives are inconsistent, and that we want China to think very carefully about the way forward.”

It’s not inconsistent, Kurt, you fat wanker.

What China believes is what everyone who isn’t delusional believes: the US is on the way out as a global superpower. It’s really already over. China knows that when the US falls, Europe will still be there, and still be interested in buying high quality products at reasonable prices. Just so, the Chinese will be interested in buying high tech from German masterminds. They will be interested in Swiss watches, French wine, Italian designer brands, and so on.

No Europeans believe that Russia is planning to invade and conquer Western Europe. Every normal person knows this claim is insane. The US just goes around with this “global poker face” and says things they know everyone knows are lies. The only people who believe any of this goofy bullshit from the US-Jewish war machine are Fatmerican slobs who can barely manage to move their massively fat bodies from the sofa to the refrigerator.

No one else is buying this tripe.The US is fully aware no one buys it. They know that the impending Russian march on Paris is viewed globally as drooling idiotic gibberish.

Imagine the nerve it takes to go around the world spewing this nonsense, knowing that everyone you are talking to knows that you are lying, and knows that you know they know you are lying.

Most of us have trouble telling small lies to people who are basically retarded. We get asked “were you looking at that girl’s ass?” and we’re like “what? no, what? Why would you think that? Haha, no, I wasn’t, no. Of course not.”

Anthony Blinken will go look a 130 IQ Chinaman directly in his small eyes and say “we’re very concerned that Russia is planning to invade Sweden at any moment and we think it’s your fault.” The Chinaman will hear the translation and sit there with his jaw hanging open, absolutely thunderstruck by the nerve of this Jew. The Jew will remain unfazed, and then say: “We also think you’re going to invade Taiwan soon, because you’re evil.”


China is Just Trying to Ignore US War Plans and Keep Building Their Global Economic Empire

It’s not just China that is building relations with Europe – Europe is building relations with China. There is an old saying “it takes two to tango.” That saying isn’t actually true, as you can tango alone. I’ve done it. But I wouldn’t recommend anyone tango solo.

Regardless of the factuality of that idiom, China can’t strengthen ties with Europe if Europe doesn’t want to strengthen ties. What this means is that Europeans are preparing, like the Chinese are preparing, for an end to US hegemony.

The US is telling Europe to stop strengthening relations with the Chinese, and Europe is still doing it. That gnarly cunt Ursula – a US shill – is going around demanding everyone obey mommy and stop strengthening relations with China, and no one is listening. The bitch was so bold as to try to change the term “decoupling” to “de-risking.”

German men were like “mein trollop, it sounds to me like you are talking about de-moneying.”

Men want to make money. That’s what men want to do. You know the song “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”?

Well, that song is true. The reverse is that “Men Just Want to Make Money.”

Obviously, there is more to life than making money, but the part of your life that is not about making money is not your professional life. Your professional life is primarily about money. (Unless you’re me, but that’s very specific and complicated. My personal and professional life are both about revenge.)

Of course, women end up gobbling up most of the money men make, which is why women are not concerned about making money, and are instead able to focus on “fun.” In fact, what women define as “fun” primarily involves systematically extracting money from men.

There’s another 1980s pop song that was sung by a woman but written by a man about that.

(Madonna was obviously much better than Cyndi Lauper, but these are both defining cultural songs, and they are both true.)

Men’s drive to make money is not actually about mass wealth, but rather, it is simply what you do. There is nothing else to do. If you’re going to work, you might as well be making a lot of money.

But I digress.

No, wait. I haven’t digressed. This was my actual point: the people who actually keep society running are focused on money, and the Chinese are offering money. The US, meanwhile, is offering endless war and gay sex.

I wrote a piece yesterday about how the only countries that celebrate gay sex are aligned with the US, and all countries that don’t celebrate gay sex are lining up on the other side of this new global order. The reaction to gay sex, and in particular the US-Jewish agenda to push gay sex on children, is so visceral that it is maybe even more influential than money for a lot of countries. You can imagine it on the personal level: how much money would you pay for your son not to be gay? The answer for most men is “all of it.”

However, it has become clear that the US has zero interest in anyone making any money. Obviously, they enrich a small international cartel. The Jews always make money (I would actually say they “take money” – they don’t actually make anything), and they will throw some scraps to the corrupt democracy leaders they install in various countries, but in terms of “becoming a wealthy nation,” this is not on the table anymore if you’re aligned with the US.

Germany is facing deindustrialization because the US has forced them into this nonsensical and fully sadistic war with Russia. The US literally blew up their gas pipes in the biggest act of industrial terrorism in history. But along with screwing over rich people who own factories and so on, the US is the one pushing for the end of European agriculture. Everyone in Europe understands that all of this global warming gibberish from the UN is actually from the US. It’s common sense. Why would the Netherlands want to destroy their own agricultural sector? Who does it benefit?

The US-Jewish empire is telling all of the people in Europe – beyond a small cartel of people in Brussels and London – that they have to sacrifice all of their wealth in order to fight endless ideological wars to force everyone on earth to engage in man-on-man anal.

Meanwhile, China is like “we are just trying to make money.” Europe may ask: “Yeah? And what else?” and the Chinese reply: “No, it’s just the one thing. Just money.”

Chinese culture is very alien to white people, and it’s therefore easy to portray them as somehow suspicious in media designed for landless Fatmerican plebs. But when we’re talking about serious adult men, everyone understands “we just want to make money.”

When it comes down to it, the only thing the US can do in response to this situation is call people evil and then threaten to kill them. But can they kill everyone?

This is what recently happened in Niger:

  • The Niger people said they want to be free of Western-anal influence and align themselves with Russia and China to make money
  • The US spent months saying they were going to organize a war against Niger to “enforce democracy” (i.e., force the people back into a system of Western domination)
  • The Niger people said “quit talking and make a move, nigga”
  • The US surrendered and agreed to withdraw their military forces from the country

It might sound bizarre, but Niger should be a model for Europe. This is what you have to do if you don’t want to be poor and gay. You have to tell the Americans “if you’re going to kill us, then come kill us – we’re not doing this shit anymore.”




Richard Wolff on How Russia and China Destroyed NATO’s Economic War and changed Geopolitics Forever







tanked think-tank.....


Think-tanked    By Hamish McDonald (sic) It should be Macdonald....


As a China-watching think tank winds up after Morrison-era cuts, a respected analyst reviews government funding for security-related research and education.

One Sunday morning nearly four years ago Kevin McCann was surprised to learn that an organisation he chaired was being hounded in the News Corp tabloids for being in “China’s grip” and “lobbying against Australia’s national interests.”

It was quite a shock for the former Macquarie Group chair, one-time partner in the big Sydney law firm Allens, member of numerous business and artistic boards and recipient of the Order of Australia. A surprise, too, for other members of the board, who included a host of eminent Australians drawn from diplomacy, intelligence, business, academia and politics — not to mention the organisation’s blue-chip corporate sponsors, including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and PwC.

The tabloid report, followed two days later by an attack in the conservative magazine Quadrant, was also the first indication for McCann’s Sydney-based organisation — the research institute China Matters — that its funding was being terminated by the federal government departments that had supported it financially since its founding five years earlier: Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence, Home Affairs, Industry, Innovation and Science, and Attorney-General’s. To further hobble its work, China Matters was to lose its tax-deductible status for private-sector donations.

“It was a victim of a new sort of policy of completely shutting down all conversation about Australia–China relations that didn’t accord with the then government’s position,” says Michael Wesley, deputy vice-chancellor of Melbourne University and China Matters board member. “It was a deliberate silencing of an organisation that was committed to facilitating a diversity of opinion and a genuine multisectoral discussion and debate about Australia’s relations with its major trading partner.”

It has taken a while, but Scott Morrison’s former government eventually achieved that objective. Last week, China Matters announced it is shutting down. Its executive director, internationally known China politics scholar Linda Jakobson, has returned to her native Finland after ten years in Australia.

The institute’s offence was to advocate a more nuanced response to China’s energetic program of spending and diasporic string-pulling, which aimed to build its influence abroad. Examples cited by the News Corp tabloids included China Matters’s alleged urging of Australia to join Xi Jinping’s $1.5 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (despite the organisation having declared it “does not have an institutional view” on the issue) and its “pushing back” against the foreign influence legislation introduced by Malcolm Turnbull in late 2017. The tabloids’ article included “demonstrable falsehoods and defamatory insinuations,” McCann wrote at the time, but his protestations fell on deaf ears in the government.

China hawks were ascendant in government and the media, unleashed by the outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan and Beijing’s clumsy handling of the epidemic. Scott Morrison was in weekly phone contact with Donald Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, a fellow Pentecostalist. Foreign minister Marise Payne had cast doubt on whether China could be trusted to trace the virus’s origins, and Morrison said an international inquiry should have “weapons inspector powers,” by which he meant that Chinese sovereignty should be overridden.

When leading business figures, among others, pointed out that this kind of language was sure to draw retaliation, hawkish commentators turned on them. Peter Jennings, then heading the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said they “have to understand the national interest is more important than a handful of wealthy businessmen continuing to make themselves rich dealing with an authoritarian China.”

The Sydney Morning Herald’s international and political editor, Peter Hartcher, described iron-ore tycoon Andrew Forrest as a “craven character” who had “chosen to campaign for a foreign authoritarian political movement” and “made the case for Australia to surrender.” Nine’s political editor at the time, Chris Uhlmann, said that “business captains and university chiefs have shown they can’t handle the truth. As long as the rivers of gold flowed, they were happy to urge silence…” But “silence means consent,” declared Uhlmann, including to the “imprisonment of a million Uighurs in Xinjiang.”

Events turned out as the government’s critics predicted. China cut back some $20 billion in non-strategic annual imports from Australia, including wine, beef, timber, barley and lobsters, with severe impacts in Australian regions. In response to an aggressive federal police raid on four official Chinese media correspondents, Beijing’s state security agency detained Chinese-Australian journalist Cheng Lei (who ended up being jailed for three years).

When I approached key figures in the Morrison government who are likely to know how the decision to punish China Matters was made, none was willing to comment (if they replied at all). The funding cut took away nearly half of the organisation’s funding.

Money has certainly been part of the reason for the closure, Jakobson told me from Helsinki. But by the time Labor came to power the institute had decided not to attempt to have the grant and tax break restored. The system of departmental grants had changed by then, and regaining tax deductibility would have been a “tedious, long and costly process,” she said.

Instead, the board decided to wind up and put remaining funds towards a fellowship program in the Australia–China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney. The hope was that “there might be some really worthwhile, savvy, smart, dedicated Australians wanting to devote their careers to understanding what’s going on in the PRC.”

The China Matters story is likely to figure in the current review of federal government funding to national security–related research and education, commissioned by the prime minister’s department in early February. Heading the review is University of Queensland chancellor Peter Varghese, a former head of Foreign Affairs and one-time director-general of the Office of National Assessments.

“These programs deepen public discussion, strengthen partnerships, and inform policy debates on national security matters,” the announcement said. The review would look at whether they remain “appropriately aligned to Australia’s national interests and strategic circumstances,” examining the performance of funded institutes over the past five years, and making recommendations “to assist [government] agencies conducting relevant activities while achieving value-for-money, administrative efficiency, and appropriate levels of governance, accountability, probity and transparency.”

The announcement had scarcely any general media coverage but did cause a brief buzz in Canberra security circles. Some instant commentary saw it as a “Get ASPI” exercise — a reference to the hawkish Australian Strategic Policy Institute, led for many years by Jennings.

“The announcement of a review last week by Peter Varghese is widely anticipated as a move in preparation for defunding ASPI,” wrote Labor official turned consultant Cameron Milner in the Australian. “Such a decision should terrify all those worried that we’re not spending enough, not worrying enough and not preparing enough to defend our island continent.”

By defunding ASPI, Milner said, the government would be caving in to China’s so-called “fourteen demands,” as China hawks call the list of bilateral irritants handed to an Australian journalist in 2020 by a Chinese embassy diplomat — one of which was hostile scrutiny of contentious issues like the treatment of the Uyghur people — by a partially Australian government-funded institute, meaning ASPI.

ASPI’s prominence among Canberra voices raising alarm over China has certainly drawn criticism from quarters that would have appreciated China Matters’s approach. Concern was maintained when Jennings was replaced as ASPI’s head just before the 2022 election by another China hawk, Justin Bassi, who had been Marise Payne’s chief of staff when China Matters was defunded.

Two years into the Albanese government, ASPI no longer seems especially out of line with the stance of foreign minister Penny Wong and defence minister Richard Marles, who have been striving to balance diplomatic courtesy towards Beijing with support for closer alliance with the United States and large defence investments against a perceived Chinese threat. Nor can one imagine Varghese lending himself to any retribution, if that was the review’s aim.

Varghese has meanwhile been getting around the national-security think tanks and academic institutes. Although they number about fifty, he will probably concentrate on the top ten or so that get about 80 per cent of the government funding. They would include ASPI, the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University and two Australian National University outfits, the National Security College and the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

Those he’s spoken to think he will develop a set of principles to govern how the government funds strategic policy work rather than trying to prescribe what areas should get priority over others, which will change over time depending on trends and challenges.

As foreign affairs secretary, Varghese put funding into China Matters. Last year, introducing a China Matters oration by Kevin Rudd as University of Queensland chancellor, he made his feelings clear about the defunding decision. “China Matters knows that to understand China is not to endorse its policies,” he said. “By ceasing its funding the previous government apparently believed the opposite. This, despite the fact that China studies in Australia is going backwards.”

For her part, Jakobson hopes Varghese will recommend longer-term funding of key research institutes. “There has to be a willingness by the federal government to fund good strategic research which is not tied to three reports, two briefings and one conference a year, to give you an example of one of our contracts,” she says. “That’s not the way a genuine think tank can work. It can’t all be project-driven. It wears everyone out. There’s too many deliverables for the amount of money that’s being brought in.”

An endowment system would be better, she says, as was seen in the large sums the US Studies Centre received from the Howard government and Rupert Murdoch, and the Lowy Institute from property magnate Frank Lowy. “There has to be at least five-year if not a ten-year basic, foundational funding for a specialised institute like China Matters, which provides very specialised expertise on one country, a very important country.”

Jakobson sees a gap re-emerging in how Australia understands the People’s Republic of China. The Australia–China Relations Institute at UTS focuses on the bilateral relationship and the ANU’s Australian Centre on China in the World looks at a wide range of Chinese culture, she says. “But they don’t produce deep policy analysis of what’s going on in the PRC, which is what from the very beginning I saw Australia had a dire need for: to understand the drivers of what’s going on and why China’s making the decisions they are making.”

No doubt Peter Varghese is keenly aware of this gap. Meanwhile, the man whose government defunded China Matters, Scott Morrison, pursues his new post-parliamentary career as a defence industry consultant in partnership with Mike Pompeo.


Republished from Inside Story, April 22, 2024






australia sux....


China studies in crisis: Time for change    By David S G Goodman


At a time when China is becoming increasingly more important to the Australian economy as well as to our stability and security in the Asia-Pacific, the overall decline in Australia’s China knowledge capability runs counter to our national sovereign interests. 

The opportunity to congratulate Colin Mackerras on his six-decade long involvement with China is bitter-sweet. Certainly his contribution to the development of China Studies in Australia has been considerable. After a pre-Cultural Revolution teaching stint in Beijing he has been a significant bridge between Australian and Chinese higher education. His enthusiasm for things Chinese is well-known, and he is one of those whose development of China Studies in Australia (as well as the encouragement of many others) made it a world-leading location of research and teaching on China outside the People’s Republic of China itself during the 1980s and 1990s.

Mackerras’s own research focus on society and culture, in particular theatre, drama and the performing arts, presented and still presents useful alternatives to the focus on questions of national security and regional strategy, both in higher education and elsewhere in society. Regardless of how one assesses the potential configurations and impact of the ‘China Threat’ to Australia there remains a need to know about China and its society. Most simply, China is Australia’s largest trade partner (in both directions) and one of its largest source countries for migrants. Of even greater importance though in trying to understand and explain our changing world and its individual human and social dimensions the Chinese experience represents a sizeable proportion that must be incorporated.

That aspect of Mackerras’s contribution to China Studies is though now significantly threatened. At Griffith University, from the mid-1970s on he and others pioneered the Area Studies approach to education and research about China. China, the Chinese and Chinese culture are to be understood and examined in both their wider regional and intellectual contexts. This requires a high degree of specialisation: not only the study of the Chinese language, but its combination with other disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences. China-related knowledge has certainly expanded across the range of university disciplines notably Architecture, Business, Engineering, Law, and Science. At the same time the last decade has seen a substantial retreat from specialisation in China Studies and from the Area Studies approach to knowledge production.

The retreat from specialisation in China Studies has been the subject of a number of reports in the last few years, most notably Chinese Studies in Australian Universities: A Problem of Balance from the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) in 2020 and Australia’s China Knowledge Capability from the Australian Academy of Humanities (AAH) in 2023. These reports have highlighted the disappearance of advanced education about China into a future where there will be an Australian need for broader and deeper China expertise. China Studies student numbers have held up well in the last decade but the numbers of domestic students in honours programs, higher and research degree programs are now few and far between. Alarmingly, there are currently no high-level advanced Chinese language programs anymore in any Australian university.

One clear reason for this change is that the trend in higher education curriculum development has moved against specialisation. Students are now required to take options and programs in addition to their major which are also a much smaller component of their degree. There may be sound educational reasons for a general education at the undergraduate level, but the consequence is severe for China Studies as with other majors in area studies. Intensive knowledge of the language is necessary alongside understanding of society and culture (including politics, philosophy and the relevant economy) without which a program of study becomes either devalued in content or impossible.

Remarkably, student numbers in China Studies have not declined but the explanation as the ASAA Report highlights is that many universities have come to adopt what appears to be an over-reliance on international student enrolments, particularly from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The financial benefit to a university is obvious in the absence of government support, especially for research. Not unnaturally those students drift to classes about China, but one crucial difference between them and domestic students is their level of knowledge of the Chinese language, so demand is not created for advanced Chinese language training. On the other hand, demand amongst those students for postgraduate doctoral study is high. Combined with the inability of domestic undergraduates to specialise in China Studies this international student demand means that most China Studies doctoral programs have few, if any, domestic students. The PRC students are not to blame for this strategic failure but it certainly emphasises the weakening of Australia’s future China knowledge capability.

In research the crisis in the production of core China research, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences was clearly reported by the AAH Report last year. That report highlighted the funding decline in number of projects and funds provided through the Australian Research Council (ARC) steadily for the past 12 years, and in 2023 nothing was funded despite applications. Over that same period there has also been no support of China-related research at scale, such as through the funding of Centres of Excellence that could support a multidisciplinary program of strategic, sovereign research capacity on China.

There may be many reasons for the decline in research support, but one obvious concern is the management of an Area Studies approach, combining disciplinary and China knowledge. The absence of China knowledge in the ARC College of Experts means that applications to the ARC’s Humanities and Social Sciences panels risk being assessed only in disciplinary frames and debates. The innovative aspects of their contents related to China are potentially overlooked in a largely Euro-American centred research culture. The benefits that accrue to the Australian nation from in-depth knowledge about China are lost in the process.

All Area Studies fields experience these problems but in the case of Asian Studies and China Studies there are additional difficulties that arise from the historical weight of the UK, Europe and USA in our university systems. There are solutions at hand. In some parts of the world (notably USA, UK) funding for Area Studies, particularly for research, is now provided separately from and alongside the major disciplinary areas. In Australia, during the late 1980s Federal Government established the Asian Studies Council to promote studies of and education about the countries of the Asia Pacific. In the 1990s the ARC convened a discrete Asian Studies panel to promote research on the region to good effect. Australia produced outstanding China scholarship that gained global recognition. Later the ARC still continued to support research on the Asia-Pacific region for a while by ensuring that both the Humanities and Social Science panels had at least one Asia-Pacific expert each among their membership.

The problem with the overall decline in Australia’s China knowledge capability is that it runs counter to our national sovereign interests at a time when China is becoming increasingly more important to the Australian economy as well as to our stability and security in the Asia-Pacific. While individual universities may decide to maintain China Studies
as a strategic good, ultimately that initiative rests with Federal Government and its agencies.