ADELAIDE - We ought not to regard China as a direct military threat. It makes no strategic or practical sense to do so. After all, we willingly sell them the resources they need from us.
They have long ago worked out that, in our neo-liberal capitalist system, money speaks much more loudly than ethics, morality or patriotism.
I also agree that we should avoid being dragged into ugly regional wars, especially those premised upon the idea that democracy can be successfully exported.
The Albanese government's approach is to be respectful of China and cooperate where we can and only criticise if we absolutely must.
This is a sensible position with respect to a country that is our major trading partner and the major economic and military power in Asia.
Our whole posture in relation to China needs to be based upon the understanding that while we do not share many political and social values with the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), we must get along with them as best we can.
Neither the USA nor a minor power like Australia can or will be able to successfully stimulate changes to China's political and social fabric, whether we seek to do that through rhetoric or direct action of some kind.
Publicly berating China for its sins, be they real or imagined, is mostly a waste of time and counterproductive.
Talking earnestly, persistently and quietly in the background seems likely to be a more productive approach in the longer run.
The biggest single risk for us in our relationship with China arises if and when Xi Jinping decides to go through with his repeated threats to seize Taiwan by military means.
This will effectively force us and our allies to choose between defending what we regard as Taiwan's right to self-determination and accepting China's repeatedly stated position that Taiwan and its 23 million people are an organic and historic part of China who must submit to the power of the CCP.
I have no idea what we should do in such a situation.
However, the consequences of a decision either way would be very bad for Taiwan and for us.
My current guess is that direct military intervention will be ruled out as far too costly and risky while massive economic sanctions and some sort of blockade will be preferred.
The Russo-Ukraine war suggests that even this limited this approach would embroil China in an ugly 'small' war while imposing severe political and economic costs as well.
I assume that Xi Jinping and the Peoples Liberation Army are smart enough to understand this but, like Putin, they may gravely underestimate the likely consequences of fulfilling their ambitions regarding Taiwan.
Neither Russia nor China are the only countries capable of the 'strategic patience' required to make such an economic blockade extremely damaging over the long haul.
One lesson of history is that nations will engage in self harming adventures if they uncritically accept ideas about their supposed 'manifest destiny' or 'historic rights'.
No nation is totally exempt from such pretensions and the evidence for this is before us all right now as Russia continues to prosecute its war on Ukraine.
We must hope that those who lead us recognise the risks inherent in this type of thinking and act accordingly.