Addressing Turbulence in our Times
In these turbulent times of ours we are faced with two choices
1. We could opt for greater turbulence, perhaps unwittingly, or
2. Seek to minimise it.
We can misread the motives of other nations when they act in their national interests, or enter into dialogue with them and seek clarification and compromise.
We know very well that Australia is being urged to opt for the first: by many Australians, and by our longstanding and respected Patron: to pursue what may be seen as short-sighted high-risk low-returns policies, savouring of brinkmanship, by sending warships and military aircraft, etc. through the South China Sea, and engaging in military collaborative exercises in the South China Sea, in order to teach China that she may not build islands and fortify them with impunity, in what China regards as her backyard. It is noted that there are other countries (eg: Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines) in the region which have overlapping claims to that sea and what lies above and beneath, and who stake their claims in similar ways.
I am sure you will agree that this is where International Law should come in.
China, as we know, is an ally and a most valued and necessary trading partner of Australia. Furthermore, the South China Sea is not part of our geographical patch. China does not threaten us in any way, and nor does China threaten the U.S.A. our Patron and Protector, or its discontiguous states (Hawaii and Alaska). Moreover, as the Chinese government declares, it has no desire or intention of challenging American hegemony, or freedom of navigation through the South China Sea.
Should we think about it more closely, we’d recognise that the government of China has an enormous problem to grapple with: a population of more than 1.4 billion, the world’s largest, in an area a little smaller than the USA’s. These it has to feed and educate. The quality of life has to be improved. Ever-recurring natural disasters catered for. Massive corruption at all social levels has to be dealt with.
As far as can be seen, the one person committed and determined and trusted to clean things up is the President and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, a one-time victim of the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong. It takes a trustworthy, strong and honest man to do this. We should also note that China is highly critical of the nuclear threats made by North Korea and its attempts to improve its ability to deliver nuclear warheads on distant targets.
If today, in our eyes China is doing the wrong thing, building islands and airstrips in the South China Sea and proposing to exploit resources in those portions of the sea bed it lays claim to, why resort to threat and menace when there are other ways of handling the situation. Should we not use diplomacy, dialogue, patience and the processes of International Law (to which we are committed) in order to try to settle international disputes).
We already lean backwards to woo the United States and accommodate America’s demands, affording them bases for their electronic surveillance systems, welcoming American warships and the stationing of troops in our far-north and making available facilities for very long range B1 bombers.
Should we not draw the wise-line somewhere when dealing with American demands. Surely, Australia can be more innovative and resourceful, making/staying friends and not creating enemies in the Asia-Pacific, if we value our well-being and peace, and intend to retain our independence and self respect as a nation, and not accelerate another wasteful and dangerous arms race, which could lead to disaster for all?
In our nuclear age shouldn’t we strive to get away from our traditional mindset of preparing for and waging war on somebody else’s terrain, and avoid fomenting a situation from which there would be no winners, only losers. There are other more urgent planetary problems to be dealt with. [Try naming a few]
Why not opt for win-win. Become an independent and honest broker. Toil for peace and amity.
And, ask God to guide all of us in ways of peace.