On Thursday morning Labor branded Hastie’s intervention “extreme, overblown and unwelcome” and Scott Morrison attempted to distance himself from the backbencher’s remarks.Hastie, who chairs the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, accused China in an opinion piece for Nine newspapers of trying to supplant the US as the dominant power in the Indo-Pacific region.
He argued that Australia needed to balance its security interests with the US and trade interests with China but suggested remaining “true to our democratic convictions” and “resetting the terms of engagement with China to preserve our sovereignty” as the most important goals of foreign policy.Australia suffered from an “intellectual failure [that] makes us institutionally weak”, Hastie said, warning that its sovereignty and freedom would be diminished if it did not confront the challenge of a rising China.
“The West once believed that economic liberalisation would naturally lead to democratisation in China,” he wrote. “This was our Maginot Line. It would keep us safe, just as the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940. But their thinking failed catastrophically.“The French had failed to appreciate the evolution of mobile warfare. Like the French, Australia has failed to see how mobile our authoritarian neighbour has become.”
Hastie argued that the west had failed to appreciate the role of communist ideology in China’s foreign policy, comparing this to the mistaken belief in the rationality of Soviet foreign policy under Stalin.
“The next decade will test our democratic values, our economy, our alliances and our security like no other time in Australian history,” he concluded.In a statement on Thursday the Chinese embassy said: “We strongly deplore the Australian federal MP Andrew Hastie’s rhetoric on ‘China threat’ which lays bare his Cold-War mentality and ideological bias.
“It goes against the world trend of peace, cooperation and development. It is detrimental to China-Australian relations.“History has proven and will continue to prove that China’s peaceful development is an opportunity, not a threat to the world.“We urge certain Australian politicians to take off their ‘colored lens’ and view China’s development path in an objective and rational way. They should make efforts to promote mutual trust between China and Australia, instead of doing the opposite.”
Morrison said Hastie was “not a minister in the government” and – while he was free to speak as a backbencher – the Australian government would continue to balance its relationship with the US and China.Hastie, a notorious hawk on China, successfully argued that Huawei should be locked out of the 5G network owing to security concerns, and used parliamentary privilege to name a prominent Chinese-Australian as an alleged co-conspirator in a bribery case.
His comments marked a departure from the government’s rhetoric, with ministers generally urging calm and cautioning against unwanted escalation of US-China trade tensions.
On Monday the defence minster, Linda Reynolds, said it was “in no one’s interests for the competitive relationship between China and the US to become adversarial”, and Australia valued its relationship with both.On Thursday Labor’s shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said Hastie’s comments were “extraordinary … extreme, overblown and unwelcome”.
Chalmers told Radio National Australia had to “navigate what are pretty complex and multilayered issues – to weigh up all of the economic, strategic and national security interests. And I think this type of intervention makes that task harder, not easier.”Top Searches - Trending Searches - New Articles - Top Articles - Trending Articles - Featured Articles - Top Members
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