Australia must say no to any war with China, cold or hot. We must not follow US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in characterising US-China relations in Manichean terms, such as “freedom and democracy against tyranny”.
Pompeo’s insistence on total condemnation of the Chinese Communist Party aims at regime change, and threatens China. The Joint Statement released on 28 July at the end of the AUSMIN talks in Washington was replete with hostility directed against China, some of it direct, some of it couched in terms that could cover any country.
What was remarkable was the following half-hour “press availability” by Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Australian Ministers of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and of Defence Linda Reynolds.
I watched the press conference in full, gaining two strong impressions. The main one was the strident anti-China rhetoric of the Americans, especially Pompeo, which was lacking from the Australian side. The other was the reference to shared values and long-term friendship by all four, but with the Americans praising the Australians more than the other way around.
In his California speech of 23 July, Pompeo charged Xi Jinping with being “a true believer in a bankrupt, totalitarian ideology”, which “informs his decades long desire for global hegemony of Chinese communism”. He claimed the People’s Liberation Army’s purpose was to “expand the Chinese empire”. He said that “securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time” and called on the world to end any policy of engagement with China. He also claimed that the “biggest lie that they [the Chinese Communist Party] tell is to think that they speak for 1.4 billion people who are surveilled, depressed, and scared to speak out”. In effect, he called on the Chinese people to help the US overthrow the CCP.