TUMBY BAY - When the governor general of Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the Whitlam government in 1975 the conspiracy theorists had a field day.
Chief among the theories was that the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency, alarmed at Whitlam’s bold new social programs and loosening of its treaty ties, was the real culprit rather than opposition leader Malcolm Fraser
Following fast behind this theory was the idea that it had been a coup organised by Rupert Murdoch’s right wing press on behalf of some multinational corporations.
Both the CIA and Murdoch have had a history of interfering in the affairs of other nations.
These theories linger, and CIA involvement, with or without Murdoch’s assistance, still seems plausible.
Conspiracy theorists are always on the lookout for devious plots. The Covid-19 crisis is shaping up as prime grist for their mill.
There is, however, a new kid on the block. It’s called China and, in terms of international influence, it is elbowing out of the way an ailing and increasingly impotent USA.
There is no reason to believe China will not resort to dirty tricks, just as the USA did in the past, to get its way and smooth the road to its ultimate goal of world economic and political dominance.
Anyone seeking to upset China by causing it to lose face really needs to think through the ramifications carefully. Face is a big deal in China.
In our own region both the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments seem to be engaged in some indiscriminate anti-Chinese farting in the bathtub.
Australia, for no conceivable reason other than impressing the USA while sewing up a bit of local domestic support among its ‘quiet’ majority, is pushing for an enquiry into the genesis of the coronavirus in China.
Papua New Guinea, in an exquisite piece of bad timing, seems intent upon creating problems by engineering a takeover of a large goldmine in which China has substantial ownership of a lucrative lease.
Neither country seems to have thought through the consequences. How might an emboldened China respond?
As a burgeoning superstate with enormous economic power and a fragile sense of its own greatness, China is capable of taking down both governments. Its hold on the economic levers of both countries gives it a formidable weapon.
In Australia’s case, it could simply go shopping for raw materials like iron ore or coal somewhere else. That would gut the economy and see the exit of its troublesome government at the next election.
If you don’t believe that’s possible just ask resource billionaires Twiggy Forrest or Gina Rinehart.
In Papua New Guinea’s case it would be a simple matter to arrange a change of government through the expedient of bribes and other forms of corruption.
Another Peter O’Neill would pop out of the woodwork with a simple snap of China’s fingers.
China doesn’t demand that nations of the world kowtow to it. It demands it be accorded the respect it thinks it deserves as a major power.
China has taken great offence at Australia’s move to investigate it over coronavirus and PNG’s decision not to renew the Porgera lease without warning.
To do these things to a nation as sensitive as China was stupid.
It is inevitable that China will eventually replace the USA as the prominent world power. Donald Trump is diligently if ignorantly making sure that will happen.
The USA has maintained its global dominance through military clout and a willingness to use it.
China also maintains a substantial and formidable military and has used its own economic clout more shrewdly – often through corruption and dubious loans.
If the world can put aside its racial tendencies China, might offer a better world order in future.
As hard as it is for the West to accept, that might be an interesting conspiracy to chew over while we wait for the coronavirus crisis to abate.
A bully with a gun or a bully with an abacus?