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We’re really pawns in The Great Game


Hidden Hand: Exposing how the Chinese Communist Party is reshaping the world by Clive Hamilton & Mareike Ohlberg, Paperback, Hardie Grant Books, 2020, 448 pages. Kindle $8.42, Paperback $24.25. Available here from Amazon in Australia

CLEVELAND QLD - Chek Ling (Still the bell tolls: Brisbane’s Kristallnacht) raises an extremely relevant issue.

It’s an issue that Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands need to take an interest in and understand.

The conflation between China and people who identify as Chinese has been used to generate political influence for centuries.

It is similar to any ethnic tribal grouping where ‘us versus them’ arguments are used by those who wish to gain influence and political power. The pressures exerted are all about identity.

This issue is examined in detail in a book published in 2020, ‘Hidden Hand’, which exposes the Chinese Communist Party’s global program of influence and subversion, and the threat it poses to democracy.

The authors effectively demonstrate how the world at large is being progressively deluded into thinking that engagement with Chinese organisations that on the surface may appear innocuous is part of a strategy by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to gain world ascendancy.

From a Western viewpoint, Chinese organisations with familiar names and aspirations may not readily appear to be a threat.

The popular ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives seem superficially to have quite reasonable objectives and present no threat but beneath the superficial blandishments and familiarity, in many cases - as this book explains there may be a complex web of CCP control.

The authors shine a strong light into the darker corners of these relationships to disentangle them and reveal the truth.

There is only one political party in China, the autocratic Chinese Communist Party.

This has been led by 68-year old President Xi Jinping since 2013.

Xi has entrenched his authority and power in those nine years and he has some very powerful predecessors to emulate, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai being the two most outstanding.

They were not necessarily kind to their own people if there were goals to be attained that the people were actively or passively interfering with.

Any organisation with connections, declared or hidden, to the Chinese government are also integrally connected to the CCP. The party is the central organising principle and it yields to none – even those billionaires who seem to have more similarity with the West than with China.

Xi brings them to heel from time to time if they show signs of striking a pathway of their own or behaving in ways discordant to the party.

This tight knit, controlling relationship is something many Australian people of Chinese origin know and understand.

It is not something that many people in the West and the Pacific Islands understand.

Either that or, transfixed by some lucrative arrangement, corrupt or otherwise, they are induced to turn a blind eye to that which lies beneath the surface.

We have more than a few political and business types like that in Australia. So far only a small number have had their reputations trashed. More are likely to follow in their footsteps.

What would you say about a minister who made a decision in favour of some Chinese organisation, then later resigned to be soon employed by that same organisation?

Yet this has happened in Australia. It seems that as soon as dollar bills are flashed our political system suddenly becomes vulnerable.

In Australia, in PNG and in the Pacific Islands the Chinese understand how to use influence and how to use graft.

Politicians and bureaucrats need to pick up their game on such matters. Likewise the Australian Federal Police and our many security services.


A first great game
The first Great Game - but this time Chine is on the front foot

ADELAIDE - The CCP not only draws no distinction between itself and all of the instruments and institutions of the state, but applies the same logic to anyone of Chinese origin.

From the CCP’s perspective, all ethnic Chinese are ‘theirs’, regardless of their place of birth or nationality.

By this reasoning Chinese Australians, irrespective of their wishes, are seen as ultimate servants of China and its rulers.

The CCP will use whatever means necessary to secure their ‘cooperation’ to achieve strategic or shorter term tactical ends.

This is exactly the same thinking exhibited by Putin, who has said that Ukraine is not a real country but an organic part of Greater Russia.

This is the racist, ultra-nationalist rationale for using warfare as a means to compel obedience and submission to the dictates of the state.

We have seen this rationale in use before. History is replete with examples going back to ancient times.

Authoritarians always resort to this thinking and the CCP and Putin and his fellow gangsters are no different.

As for Solomon Islands, it is merely a pawn in The Great Game.

Its self-interested ruling elite fancies it is peopled by cunning operators, manipulating the Chinese and bending them to their will.

They are completely wrong in this but, by the time they become aware they have been deceived, they will be hopelessly compromised and susceptible to a combination of threats and bribery.

This is standard practice amongst gangsters: take the money, be grateful for it and do as you’re bidden or look forward to exposure and a sudden and permanent ‘retirement’.

In The Great Game, the pawns are expendable. The West is not without sin in this regard and there are already many pawns in politics, in business and elsewhere.

Our loathsome Liberal National Party government lacks any capacity to respond intelligently to this crisis.

A crisis of subornment with serious implications for our sovereignty, our democracy and our soul.

Even if the foreign affairs department had a sensible plan, Morrison and his flunkies would find a way to stuff it up.

I almost feel a bit sorry for foreign minister Marise Payne who, I believe is basically competent, but she is part of a dishonest, corrupt and ineffectual government.

As such, she must share the blame for how badly we have stuffed up relations with the Pacific Islands nations that until recently the United States thought we were exercising responsibility for.

If (and it’s a big if) Labor Senator Penny Wong gets the job after next month’s national election, we may see some improvement.

But, with the Solomons now China’s bestie just a two-hour plane ride to our north-east, that improvement will need to be vast.


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Stephen Charteris

In its hubris and arrogance the present Australian government has completely mismanaged our relationships with the Pacific family. How good is that?

We may now conclude this government poses an existential security threat and needs to go go go.

William Dunlop

Peter Kranz - There is nothing dodgy about Robyn Murphy, the founder of Canstruct, nor his company. Murphy was the Public Works manager in Mt Hagen in the mid-1960s.

He resigned to become a bridge builder and contractor in the Western Highlands. His bridges stand today.

Robyn told me in Dili in late 1999 that Barclay Brothers were attempting to avoid meeting their obligations on a contract carried out by Canstruct.

He said he called his son Rory in Melbourne, where he had a legal practise, and said, 'It's time for you to come home and join Canstruct.
Your first job is to recover several millions that Barclay owes us.'

In a court case later, Barclay was ordered to pay several million dollars including damages to Canstruct.

Today Rory Murphy is managing director of the company.

Harry Topham

This scenario has the same plot ingredients as that famous novel, 'The Mouse that Roared'.

We see a tiny insignificant country playing brinkmanship games with superpowers with apparently no knowledge that the whole deal may eventually backfire.

And, when the true nature emerges of what was originally agreed to, is seen to be false along with the discovery that the country has gone to bed with a tyrant.

When it awakes the next morning, all it has to show for its folly is a penny in the hand rather than the promised pound.

Bit like the advice given to anyone thinking of taking out an insurance policy, 'Be sure to read the fine print'.

Peter Kranz

Bernard Keane of Crikey points out that "the Solomon Islands deal with China is a massive intelligence failure (for Australia). And from a government seeking to make 'tough on China' an election issue, all the worse".

On the Liberals' watch, Pacific aid has been cut to the bone - except for billions given to dodgy operators to run Australia's prison camps by proxy.

We recall how Abbott, Dutton and Morrison were caught on camera joking about the PNG and Pacific neighbours concerns about rising sea levels.

And the foreign minister making snide remarks about Pacific countries only wanting to come to Australia when begging for money.

It seems the chickens have come home to roost.

William Dunlop

Yes, indeed, The Solomons prime minister has secured his gold bullion in his sunny haven; an obvious conclusion for over a year now.

What's new, pussycat.

In the Philippines, they used to say gold buys goons with guns back in dictator Marcos's heyday in the 1970s.

The Philippines now has Marcos's son in the running to be the next El Presidente. The poor boy must be running short of his daddy's ill-gotten gold.

But not sure if his would-be first lady is as fond of shoes as his mother was.

Stephen Charteris

Sad indeed that The Great Game rolls along unabated in the 21st century.

Sadder still that the machinations of this evil are infiltrating one of the last bastions of free peoples: the Pacific Islands.

19th century gunboat diplomacy and the acquisition of other people’s territory led ultimately to the 'war to end all wars' in 1914, and its resumption in Asia and Europe in 1933 and 1939 - resulting globally in the deaths of an estimated 100 million people.

The decades following the end of hostilities in 1945 until the end of the Cold War were in retrospect almost halcyon.

They coincided with the creation of a global economic framework, a rules-based order, decolonisation and the United Nations through its many agencies almost making the idea of the family of man a believable proposition.

Over the past four plus decades we have witnessed an apparent reversal of these gains courtesy of globalisation, rapacious capitalism, insane consumerism and the rise of a new generation of autocrats.

And with this, the mirage of a peaceful, more equitable world seems to have evaporated.

Could it be true that despite the great strides, mankind has made in science, agriculture, medicine and philosophy we as a species would prefer to act more like Pan troglodytes than Thinking man?

The mere fact that in the 21st century, a so-called leader of Russia is apparently happy to consign many thousands of people, Ukrainian and Russian alike to vile and violent deaths to satisfy some primeval urge is testament to our inability to rise above our prehistoric instincts.

Putin in a leader so powerful yet terrified of the truth. The Kremlin attempts to hide the truth from its own people about their losses in Ukraine.

And they seem ignorant of what is being done in their name in Bucha and Mariupol, or the farcical claim that the Russian navy suffered no casualties from the sinking of the Moskva. Inventions beyond rational comprehension.

In China we see the same affliction in Xi Jinping with the annexation and militarisation of atolls in the South China Sea and creeping hegemony in Africa and the Pacific - this, under the guise of the Belt and Road initiative, is yet more proof that we have learned almost nothing.

Now more than ever it is time for Pacific Islands leaders to recognise that the hoovering up of their fish stocks or removal of vast forested areas from their territory show up the offer of security guarantees for what it is.

And this is the wholesale acquisition, rape and pillage of their resources by a rapacious power led by a government steeped in the practice of the mass subjugation of its own people.

Just read Chinese history and imagine life as a peasant under the emperors. Or more recently life during the failed 'great leaps forward' of the 1950s (estimated 23-55 million deaths), the genocidal occupation of Tibet in 1959, the murderous purges of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the ruthless extermination of Chinese students in Tiananmen Square in 1989 for daring to speak truth to power, the recent snuffing out of freedom of expression in Hong Kong, the hideous incarceration of three million Uyghur people, or the compulsory lockdown of the 25 million strong population of Shanghai in the false belief this will stop the spread of Omicron.

A leadership apparently so powerful it is afraid to admit to more than seven deaths from this latest wave of Covid spreading through its enormous population.

Can a leopard change its spots? Do leaders who go to such enormous lengths to hide the truth from their own people make an exception and speak the truth to you?

The freedoms enjoyed by Pacific nations are rare. Your islands are your past, present and future. Your freedoms to call your ancestral land yours, and yours alone, is a precious privilege.

Be very circumspect of powerful nations with an aversion to telling the truth, bearing gifts. Careful who you choose to invite to share your islands with, who you invite into your homes.

It was Geoffrey Chaucer who in 1390 penned in the Squire's Tale, if you wish to sup with the devil, be sure to use a very long handled spoon.

In today’s world beware of men who pretend to be your leaders, and yet quite willing to sup with the devil.

There are varying views on the efficacy of China's covid zero policy. A recent commentary (18 April) in Journal of Infection says "it seems that the ‘dynamic zero COVID-19 strategy’ is still the most effective and applicable epidemic prevention model for China". Full text here - - KJ

Paul Oates

and in tonight's news, The Solomons has now apparently admitted it has signed a 'defence deal' with the CCP.

That puts a potential CCP base right slap bang in the middle of our main link with the US.

Funny how they were able to achieve this with one of our 'Pacific Family' in the middle of a General Election and the Oz government in 'caretaker mode'?

Both the US and Australian governments have been asleep at the wheel. They have apparently been outmaneuvered or so it would seem. So much for playing catch up.

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