Stupid provocation by Australia behind China’s flare reaction to helicopter

Image from Getty

Contributed by Jim Hayes

War propaganda is usually more brazen than any other, and this applies the loud claim being made that China put an Australian helicopter at risk by firing flares when it was engaged in a United Nations mission in international waters. Defence minister Richard Marles has branded it “unacceptable,” and this theme has been taken up enthusiastically by the war hawks in big media headlines.

The truth somewhat different. This incident occurred in the Yellow Sea near the Korean Coastline, within proximity to the Chinese homeland. If this has of instead been a Chinese military helicopter flying close to the Australian border, it would have been called a Chinese provocation. They have made it clear that they will react to encroachments that threaten their 200-kilometre off maritime border.

Photo by LSIS Matthew Lyall/Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence: A helicopter landing on the Australian destroyer HMAS Hobart

Double standards like this have unfortunately become a common feature of international diplomacy, and Australia is deeply caught up in it. Whichever way you cut it; this has been yet one more provocation.

Australia is involved in enforcing trade sanctions imposed on North Korea. Although they originally came in under the United Nations umbrella, when it was under the control of the United States, it’s really the United States and its small band of allies that continues them. This is far more problematic in today’s political climate. And it can’t be separated from the matter of China.

Marles compared this incident with the one where an Australian naval ship was said to have been almost rammed. Video footage proved that the Australian ship had cut across the bow of the Chinese vessel. The accusation was of course in line with the shooting down of a stray weather balloon that invited false accusations of spying, as proved by analysis of its remains.

Consider this for a moment. The Korean Peninsula is one of the worlds tensest points, and this is combined with the military encirclement of China. The helicopter was not there for the sightseeing. It was there to take part in United Sates controlled military exercises designed against China. The odds are that some spying would have been included along the way. Both are part of the preparation for war.

So when the Chinese aren’t happy about this, the reaction is pretty normal. Imagine the feeling in Australia if a sea of ships and aircraft are practicing blowing us up to kingdom come within a stone’s throw of us. To say we wouldn’t be happy about it would be an understatement.

Australia has paid part in one more provocation by being there, and the use of flares is a standard response to unauthorised aircraft that do not respond to a nation’s sense of secure borders. They could have decided to shoot it down with a missile. The point is they didn’t.

The real issue is whether the push to resolving differences through military means is justified. It rarely is. The best way to solve differences is through talk and avoiding provocations. War will always lead to talk anyway. The only difference is that the side with the biggest guns gates more of a say.

Securing the peace depends on a just resolution that doesn’t leave one side grudging mistreatment. History has shown that tensions will remain if this condition is not met.

Australia’s unhealthy relationship with a power demanding world dominance gets us into these situations and much worse. The alliance has dragged us into a series of wars, and the death and destruction associated with them. Doing the same with China is a road to disaster, and it’s high time a stop was put to it.

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