China is increasingly being seen as a threat to Australia and it will remain a threat while we continue to antagonise them for the sake of political posturing. While we continue to misunderstand China, we will not resolve this situation. We need to understand its history. Around about 1900, the Chinese peasants rose up against foreign intervention in China and were eventually supported by the government. This led to the Boxer Rebellion but a joint attack by several countries including Britain, America and Germany defeated the rebellion. As a result China was banned from importing weapons for two years and paid a massive amount of money in reparation costs, among many other impositions. Many Chinese cities in Northern China were occupied for more than a year by the foreign forces and many atrocities took place.
China was humiliated and it has never forgotten that and seeks retribution – rightly or wrongly.
In my humble opinion, if there is a war in the near future between China and America, China will win hands down. The Americans haven’t been very good at winning wars lately. China is pressing ahead in Hong Kong and the day will come when they will take over Taiwan which they believe is their right. There is nothing Australia can do to prevent this. But it is time that we stopped thinking we are a Western country. Australia might have been ‘invaded’ by the British but our First Nations people are the Aborigines and we are in the Asian sphere – not the West and it is time we behaved as such. We need to enter into serious diplomatic dialogue with the Chinese government and keep the Cyclopic politicians out of the discussions. We also need diplomats who speak Chinese fluently. Truth be known, China needs us for many reasons but not on our aggressive terms.
[Note: I base this letter on my experience as a Chinese translator in the 1960s when I was stationed in Hong Kong and on revived memories I received by reading Stan Grant’s brilliant book “With the Falling of the Dusk”. ]