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Australia must focus on cooperation not China

(Xia Qing  Global Times)
China's helping hand in the race against Covid (Xia Qing - Global Times)

| Global Times

This article has been edited from a Global Times interview with Mr Zhou, who is director of the Centre for Pacific Island Countries Studies at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies - KJ

BEIJING - Despite a troubled vaccination progress at home, Australia has still found energy to interfere in the vaccination rollout in Papua New Guinea by touting vaccine rivalry between itself and China.

PNG, which recently detected its first case of the highly contagious Delta variant, has agreed to vaccine offerings from a number of suppliers including China, Australia, New Zealand and Covax, the global initiative aimed at equitable access to vaccines.

"But vaccines have become a loaded political issue lately," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Monday, noting that PNG has been caught between China and Australia.

First of all, it is crucial for PNG to acquire sufficient vaccines based on its need and choices, both for the health of its citizens and to protect its fragile economy.

It is more than welcome to see Australia offering help to Pacific islands countries but cooperation between PNG and China should be determined by the two countries, leaving no room for Australia to have a say.

It seems Canberra does not want to take a respectful attitude toward China-PNG cooperation due to its long-standing arrogant attitude toward the region and its skewed anti-China mindset.

In early July The Global Times learned that Australia had been racking its brains to undermine China's vaccine cooperation with Pacific island countries, including PNG.

Obviously, PNG's real interests are not included in Australia's priority considerations in the region. What's behind Canberra's schemes is its fear over the "growing influence" of China.

In this case, the "growing influence" was China, as the world's largest developing country, offering its vaccines as global public goods to facilitate other countries combating the heath crisis.

China has offered over 700 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to countries around the world, especially developing nations.

Western countries, holding a cold war mindset, have been trying to vilify such cooperation between China and others; but the campaign against the pandemic would be much worse without the massive scale of vaccine distribution provided by China.

Regrettably, the US is busy hoarding its own stockpile while Australia has been lagging behind in its domestic vaccination rate, ranking 36 among 38 OECD countries, according to The Guardian two days ago.

From the perspective of PNG, promoting inoculation is not only a major step to contain the virus spread, but extremely important to boost economic recovery as soon as possible.

In the Pacific islands region, PNG is the largest trading partner and largest investment destination of China, and it was the first country to join the Belt and Road Initiative.

Trade between China and PNG grew to K13 billion in 2019, up six percent from 2018. China was the largest importer and the second largest trading partner of PNG.

The first meeting of the China-PNG Joint Economic and Trade Commission was held in last August amid the pandemic, during which the two vowed to strengthen international cooperation in the fight against Covid.

They also committed to further integrate the Belt and Road Initiative and PNG's major strategies and accelerate a joint feasibility study of a free trade zone between the two countries.

Although offering aid to the region for many years, Australia has failed to effectively boost the growth of its countries.

The declining regional influence of Australia appears inevitable.

Canberra should focus on seeking mutually beneficial cooperation rather than fixating on its paranoid fear of China.


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William Dunlop

Yes, Paul, James Clavell's novels give a great insight into the workings of modern Cathay as well as Japan.

The Mongols - A History by Jeremiah Curtin, with a foreword by Theodore Roosevelt, covers the big picture of their Ancestry and savagery.

William Dunlop

Aye aye, Paul, Time of course being of the essence to individual incumbents in their quest for their ultimate goal of absolute power & world domination. With the Grim Reaper as always on their heels.

Paul Oates

Those who have not read history and learned from it will continue to make the same mistakes. Read James Clavell's book, 'Gai-jin'.

It is abundantly clear that Clavell was very knowledgeable and skilled at writing about the world from an Asian perspective. The conflict that started hundreds of years ago between East and West is still actively being pursued.

It has nothing to do about whether the Chinese suffered at the hands of the West. Their own leaders were just responsible for more deaths and misery than anyone during the Great March. The struggle is primarily about dominance.

The lessons are clear: 'Promise everything, give nothing away'. 'If you can't dominate, prevaricate'.

To the Asian perspective, the issue of 'Face' is primarily important. If lowly, negotiated business deals can initially be used for strategic purposes, the national advantage will excuse the despised means to dominate.

In playing the 'Great Game', the law of the jungle prevails. 'The weak will give way to the strong.'

Winning at the Olympics is everything. Reports of how those who don't win are then treated at home is frightening and a clear indication of the current culture. Western concepts for being recognised for doing your best just don't cut the mustard.

Those who wish to play the game must to be very clear about the rules. There is only one rule. To win at all costs. The only undetermined aspect is timing.

As has been said many times before, but apparently never actually learnt by many Western leaders: 'There is no justice, only power and the use of it.'

Philip Fitzpatrick

Papua New Guinea appears to be handling its relationship with China much better than Australia.

The Melanesian propensity to seek consensus rather than muscling up in a confrontational way might have something to do with it. So too might their emphasis on respect rather than derision.

The Chinese have a big chip on their shoulder about their status in the world and the way history has treated them.

Right or wrong, rubbing up against that particular sensitivity for no apparent reason save to impress big brother USA, as Australia is wont to do, is not particularly smart.

This is particularly so when China is your biggest trading partner.

It might also be that Papua New Guinea understands authoritarianism, such as occurs in China, better than Australia because of their own colonial experiences.

From the shores of Papua New Guinea the oppression of minorities in China, the USA and Australia must look remarkably similar.

In the same sense they might also understand that freedom, no matter the political system, is largely an illusion.

State and corporate authoritarianism, after all, are not that different. Both forms seek to control the behaviour of its citizens.

In Australia brain washing is just as fine an art as it is in China. The only differences are in the way it is done. Just ask our prime minister, he and his mates in the corporate world and the conservative media are experts.

And, as many Papua New Guinean politicians have pointed out, a free press and social media can be irksome at the best of times. Especially if you modus operandi is telling lies, keeping secrets and denying the truth.

Not that any of this matters to the masses. Whatever the politicians and leaders are saying goes largely unnoticed, whether it is in the villages of Papua New Guinea, the sprawling cities and rural areas of China and, indeed, in the suburbs and country towns of Australia.

At best the political rhetoric never reaches them or if it does it is usually incomprehensible and a passing annoyance.

Papua New Guinea also understands that no matter what they do foreigners will always come seeking to plunder their natural resources and use their lands and seas for strategic purposes.

If the kickbacks keep flowing what does it matter who slips the money under the table?

The same thing goes for other enticements, even those that come with fewer strings attached and the potential to do some good.

Watching Australia and China arguing about who is distributing the most largesse must be a joy to behold for many Papua New Guineans.

Over the last few years playing China off against Australia and vice versa has become a national sport in Papua New Guinea.

Australia, on the other hand, is throwing its eggs in the USA basket and acting as its lapdog. If it was smart it would be doing what Papua New Guinea is doing and having a bet each way.

Ed Brumby

I find it difficult to disagree with Mr Zhou's final statement: surely co-operation is preferable to confrontation?

At least, then, there would be some kind of dialogue, wouldn't there?

And that could lead to better mutual understanding, couldn't it?

Or would we rather fight than talk?

And hope the Yanks come to our aid/rescue?

Just reference the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia and Afghanistan to see how that would play out....

Philip Fitzpatrick

I agree with Zhou Fangyin.

And, as an aside The Australian is not journalism, it is Murdoch talking points.

Bernard Corden

Australia may not be dumping substandard vaccines in the region but it did provide the raw material for the manufacture of oxycontin in the US via its Johnson & Johnson subsidiary in Tasmania:

I wonder who was behind that trade deal at federal and state government levels

Bernard Corden

My Dear William

“I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” - Voltaire

Ben Packham | Twitter

Concerning PNG Attitude has picked up this Global Times piece attacking Australian vaccine support to the Pacific.

The CCP is corrupting the Pacific through elite capture for its own interests. Australia is actually helping.

Global Times is not journalism, it is CCP talking points.

Australia does not pay local elites to secure its Pacific projects, and isn't dumping substandard vaccines in the region without logistics or consumables.

Ben is foreign affairs and defence correspondent with The Australian newspaper - KJ

William Dunlop

I am not quite sure whether Zhou Fangyin has his head stuck up his arse, or he misjudged and has it stuck up his fanny.

Oh, William! - KJ

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