Contributed by Jim Hayes
If we needed a reminder of how vulnerable Australia is to the escalating political and economic war between the United States and China, the sharp fall of share prices on the stock exchange a few days ago was it.
This after a relatively small incident. Imagine the effect if something really big did happens.
This is not to belittle what has occurred, since it marks the start of an escalation of the sanctions war has into a currency war.
Washington branded China a currency manipulator. China hit back by calling the United States a breaker of international rules for its own advantage, and to the disadvantage of everyone else.
In pursuing its position, the United States has pressured the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to act against China. The issue at hand, is that the United States insists compliance with a floating exchange rate, where American dollar dominates as the medium of exchange and international payments.
The Chinese position is to maintain significant control over its own currency, to defend its own economic interests.
The catalyst for the latest action, was that China has countered the sanctions by reducing the exchange rate of its currency. This makes Chinese exports cheaper, discourages potential customers from going somewhere else.
This potentially sanctions breaking strategy is not really what’s at the heart of the tension between the two nations.
This lies in the reality that the United States is experiencing a poorly performing domestic economy, a rising global debt problem and the falling value of its currency. For years, the solution has been to export these problems to other nations, through trade relations that are advantageous to the United States and the capacity to use an international financial system that it dominates.
In contrast, China’s economic performance has been dependent on internal growth through an industrial revolution and engagement with the world, via growing manufacturing export industries. Coming in as the second largest economy, China not only poses a threat to American supremacy. China refuses to take on the burden that the failures of the American economy are imposing on the world.
China is now a major barrier to continuing to carry out business as usual. This is what lies behind the present economic war.
Economic war always has its political expression. In this case, it has been pushing an China threat rhetoric with racist undertones. The talk is the containment of China as an economic and ultimately political challenge.
Whether one likes or does not like the Chinese political and economic system, it remains that the nature of the containment policy is not to hold back a threat of invasion. It is about shackling a competitor.
The policy has a military dimension. This is to beef up the military encirclement of Chinese territory. Hundreds of installations are backed by massive naval patrols. together they provide massive fire power a short distance from the Chinese mainland.
View of the military US encirclement of China
The United States is pulling out of existing nuclear weapon containment agreements and deploying many of them towards China. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes to Australia to recruit Australia into standing with the United States in a front against China. A new feature of this agreement is to sign up for participation in a new level missile encirclement of China, including the stationing of missiles on Australian soil.
Image below shows some of the American military bases on Australian soil.
Australia is being increasingly militarised. We have dozens of American military bases on our soil. Marines are being stationed in Darwin in growing numbers. Australia is being turned into a centre for assembling, storing distribution of small arms.
Australia participates in patrolling of the Pacific and Indian oceans as American spheres of influence, and gets involved in the South China Sea standoff within sight of the Chinese mainland.
Only a fool would believe that this can continue with impunity. Thumb your nose at someone long enough, they will notice and eventually retaliate. Provocation may have a logic to it when you know that you are going to win in a showdown.
The United States has no chance of winning. China is too big and much less dependent on doing business with China than China is on the united States. Strengthening ties with Russia and a range of other nations is lessening the need to deal with the United States further.
All China had to do is flex a little bit of muscle and the share prices fell. Think what would happen with some major muscle flexing.
This warns us that continuing on the present course threatens an economic catastrophe than none of us will be able to escape. We can be thankful that China has not reacted more aggressively.
But how long can this continue?
Imagine if we in Australia was experiencing Chinese aircraft carriers and guns pointing into Sydney Harbour. Imagine if Australia was surrounded by missiles, including nuclear ones. Imagine China directly bankrolling and giving other backing to certain political organisations on a massive scale. We would think these posed a threat and involved interfering in our affairs.
This is exactly what China is facing, although China does not have its military permanently deployed outside outside its borders. There is no threat to Australia’s national security, unless you consider a difference of opinion a security threat.
Whether we like or don’t like China’s economic and political system is beside the point. Its rise is a reality and its not going to be stopped.
If continuing to escalate tensions only threatened economic collapse, this would be bad enough to make it clear that its not in Australia’s interests. It is even worse, when it brings the possibility that this may transform into a major shooting war. Besides the prospect of horrific death and destruction in other places, Australia would become a major military target. Is this in our interests?
Would we would be better served by promoting a peaceful international environment, where all are respected and treated as equal, where no power dominates and differences are sorted out through talking, and where the yardstick for agreements is mutual benefit?
No ! to US Missiles in Australia ! No ! to joining the U.S. in a battle with China !
“The suggestion that the Northern Territory should be host to American intermediate-range missiles, floated by U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, at the recent AUSMIN conference in Sydney must be immediately and totally rejected”, said Vince Scappatura, spokesperson for IPAN, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network. “Darwin would be joining Pine Gap as a high priority target.”
“Furthermore, the call by Pompeo for Australia to “band together” with the United States against China must also be totally rejected.
China poses no direct military threat to Australia.
A war with China would devastate the global economy and Australia’s prosperity and risk crossing the nuclear threshold with unimaginable consequences. We should not allow the US-Australia military alliance to take us down the path of another disastrous war.”
IPAN believes in forging peaceful relations with all countries and trading for mutual benefit.
“In the context of American efforts to further militarise the Indo-Pacific, any strengthening of the US-Australia military alliance will only serve to increase the threat to our peace and security”, said the IPAN spokesperson.