Hi Bill, My view of Sino-Australian relations is way worse than Mr. Neuweller assesses. Have watched the steady drumbeat of the China-haters in the Australian media increase as each day passes over the last six months, I believe the "decoupling" lobby will win out.

I believe Scott Morrison and his government believe that they can attack China and that if China shuts off trade with Australia they have other countries in the region who will take-up the slack. I think they believe India, Indonesia and Vietnam will absorb China's trade. It's a tragic mistake in my view.

What I'm seeing in watching what China will do is to reduce trade and investment in Australia to where only Chinese-owned enterprises —dairies and cotton to name two —in Australia will be the only commerce between the two countries by 2025. I read the smug comments by Australian politicians and the commentariat that "China needs us more than we need China." My view is if you think this the go fo it.

Recently, not only barley and processed meat have been shutdown, that this is not temporary as the government speculates and it will blow over in time, not that both have not been cut off totally but the big one is coal and the order has gone out from Beijing to no longer import Australian coal by 2021 and that since natural gas is being directly piped into China from Siberia that LNG sales from Australia is no longer of interest. While iron ore is the largest export and while Brazil is in the throes of the Coronavirus, the exports from there will pick up by 2022. China likes Brazil, being part of BRICS and in spite of Bosenaro.

The way I see China operates from countries that are hostile to it and this includes the US no matter what the trade agreements signed say, they will still buy commodities and goods they agreed to but the amount becomes less to where over time it reduces to so little that it just dies on the vine.

I watch the US soybean and grain purchases to China that it was supposed to be USD 30 bn but only three billion have been purchased. While China have been "assurances" to the USTR that they increase it is unlikely to make the agreed quota not this year and probably not the next. Coronavirus excuses notwithstanding.

As I am pretty long in the tooth these days, all I see is foolishness and manufactured disagreements and that we are cutting our nose off to spite our face. Australia is so intent on doing this that its passed the point where diplomacy now makes little difference. So it goes I'm my view.

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Ad 2. EU is like a glacier. You can't see it moving and it's seems passive and immobilize, but it's constantly on the move, you can't stop it and over the time it will entirely change the landscape. PRC misinterprets current crisis as business as usual (blah, blah, human rights, blah, blah, reciprocity, blah, blah...), but mental change in EU towards PRC (and also partially towards US) is happening now. Relations with PRC will go south - just like a glacier. With US? All depends on US elections. I don't think majority of EU can stand another 4 years of DT.

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Q1 PRC - Australian relations are on the highway to hell. China’s “barbarian management playbook” is perfectly unsuited to managing relations with Australia.

PRC diplomatic verbal bullying only provokes further righteous indignation amongst the public in Australia. This is powerful — everyone has to vote here. So any politician who makes a Pro PRC comment will/has been punished at the ballot box.

Australia for want of a better phase have feared the “yellow peril” since 1901. China when it threatens and acts on economic sanctions has reignited this deeply held fear. This will not end well for China. I think China has a short time to turn this around. I don’t envision they will. China will become Japan 1941 to Australia.

PRC influence operations in Australia are being constantly being exposed and politicians are losing their jobs (today was another one) and billionaires are being pilloried for voicing any favourable PRC comments.

This is toxic. China has created an actual adversary in Australia. Any voice of reason here has and will be tarred with the “pro communist China”.

The consequences - China will just assume a country of 20 million is unimportant. Australia will dog Chinese ambitions in the South Pacific. Australia will become the glue in the Japan-India-US-Australia anti China axis allowing these powerful countries who have their own problems with each other have one party they can always talk to. I think relations are that bad if the PRC gets kinetic with Taiwan Australia would support Taiwan.

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q6 As for how HK would turn out post-NSL, it's quite likely 2 things. First a few "bad apples" might be taken down as the showcase of its capabilities. These few will be handpicked very carefully (e.g. maybe some with real threat to HK society) as to not trigger a total revolt of HK. Second there can be large-scale national propaganda and education campaign. Post-NSL much older generations would just escape HK for good, so focus might be on "correcting" younger gens with "soft" power - they have less memory of pre-97 HK, some not happy about the struggle after entering society due to various reasons (e.g. sky high housing cost), and also generally more willing to accept new things. Imagine give them the power to rule HK and challenge the incumbent (more knowledgable people might comment on this).

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On Australia-China, something is very weird in China’s foreign policy at the moment. I can’t remember a time since 1978 when China has allowed its relations to deteriorate with all countries. In the past if it was at loggerheads with one, it would cultivate the others. It’s a rule of thumb of the way the party plays its own internal politics. Now who is it on terms of trust with? Japan? South Korea? The US? The EU? ASEAN? Canada? India? Sweden? It has burnt up goodwill with all important and unimportant powers. Russia, Cambodia, Venezuela, North Korea, Pakistan, hardly seem a winning combination for furthering China’s economic or regional goals. Mr Nicholas may blame Australia, but if so, we’re in good company. China contra mundum? I doubt it’s in a position yet to stand alone and still further its ambitions.

I keep wondering if there’s something more fundamental awry within the party. The more emollient elements, the smooth barbarian-handlers from the youth league, the reformers, are all put to flight. To defeat the hardliners around Bo Xilai, Xi has had to be as tough as them. In a Marxist party which doesn’t acknowledge any legal limits on power, liberalising and rule of law seem doomed. The hardliners will always be as ruthless as necessary to get their way. Without any nuance in its conduct of international Affairs, China is likely to come a cropper. We should remember, China should remember, on the Thucydides trap that the ascendant power lost, defeated by a coalition of the rest.

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HK: well, the probable outcome in the not so long term is that we will have domestic terrorism for real in HK, and it'll basically be Northern Ireland for awhile. immigration out of HK have always been high anyway, with several major waves, so we'll have a lot of the current residents leaving one direction or another and taken over by a new generation which might shape things pretty differently.

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Hi Everyone, here is a short comment from me on Bill's nb.2. I recently asked the EC to share more details on von der Leyen's words targeting China for cyberattacks against hospitals (and others), and spreading disinformation.

Here is their answer:

1: (Cyberattacks)

We will not divulge information on security incidents. We would, however, refer you to the Declaration of the High Representative on behalf of the EU, issued on 30 April, on malicious cyber activities exploiting the coronavirus pandemic ( https://www.consilium.europa.eu/hu/press/press-releases/2020/04/30/declaration-by-the-high-representative-josep-borrell-on-behalf-of-the-european-union-on-malicious-cyber-activities-exploiting-the-coronavirus-pandemic/). - link in Hungarian...

2: (Disinformation)


Hope it helps, it did not help me tough... Wondering why Xinhua and Global Times articles are considered as disinformation campaigns against the EU.

Happy to read your comments.



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> Which other elders besides Jiang may still have meaningful influence on the CCP and the PLA?

The one that brought Xi into power, of course! The "Korean," Zhang Dejiang

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On Sino-Australian relations - lets remember the large overseas Chinese diaspora in Australia. How will the PRC look to ensure they do not feel alienated? Will they offer a HK - UK style attempt to bring Chinese nationals back? Or will they effectively excommunicate them if relations continue to deteriorate?

Moreover, it is possible that China may not actually care too much about its relations with Australia. As it has a large stranglehold on the world through the BRI, compounded by its overseas influence campaigns etc, having worse ties with any big nations may not matter because its already got what it needs and its rise to becoming a global super power by 2049 is well on track.

Even if it begins to repair relations through less overt or at least more covert subversion of its trading partners, the geo-political knock on effects from COVID 19 toward China's handling of the outbreak could do worse for PRC relations with any country, far more than any subversive activities could.

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Re: q.1 BJ sanctioning Australia for misbehaving? Sooo mean. Wherever did they learn such bully tricks?

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Jiang Zemin is apparently the only feasible figurehead should Xi fail. If he dies it will probably mean more difficulty for the intra-party opposition to organise. Think Zhu Rongji is still the leader of reformists and there’s no lack of League people.

As for PLA influencers, probably very few as we now see Wu Shengli being the latest to be culled.

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1) It is a fascinating case study, and another example of Australia as the canary in the coal mine for Western powers faced with Xi's ultimatum of surrender of political sovereignty as the price for continued short-term profits with China (and medium-term tech theft and reduction to raw material supplier).

2) Not that concerned as long as Trump's president. More than "concerned" if Biden wins.

3) Great question and very interested to hear China insiders' take on this.

4) Impossible to say given Trump's erraticism. Excusing evil because of "the end of history", i.e. "engagement", is dead though.

5) Multilateralism/repairing Western alliances based on common values will be Biden's top foreign policy priority and the CCP fears that the most.

6) Like Mainland China, no? You'd love to see a years-long, heroic struggle by the overwhelming majority of the people there who don't accept the basic CCP principle of "I'm holding a gun to your head so why don't you just accept how great and benevolent what I'm offering you is", but it's unfair to expect that kind of sacrifice and instead I assume the secret police will make example of a few Democratic legislators, and maybe a few older/college students, by disappearing and torturing them into forced confessions, and everyone else will get the message and fall in line.

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The Garnaut piece is excellent, but I think that Confucian soul engineering has been simply replaced by Xi soul engineering, and is just a continuum of Chinese totalitarianism. That the latest soul engineering has Stalinist roots makes it simply more virulent but in line with Chinese history.

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#5 is an excellent question and begets a second question. Why hasn’t Biden come out with a clear policy stance on China?

Especially when doing so would probably net him votes (provided it was hardline). He could, for example, propose increasing the US industrial base at the expense of Chinese exports, which might help him in some swing states (PA specifically).

Either way, it’s been frustratingly difficult to find some good analysis how Biden would approach the relationship.

If I were to make an uneducated guess: trade war OUT (China happy) TPP IN (China sad), EU cooperation IN (China sad), Human Rights and HK IN (China livid)

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With 3, I think it's best that I defer to Neil Thomas' recent analysis here: https://macropolo.org/analysis/the-ties-that-bind-xi-people-politburo/

The 18th CCP Politburo (2012-2017) with reference to Table 1 still shows around 6 members likely tied to Jiang Zemin. Looking at Table 2 depicting the 19th Politburo (2017-2022), all the previous names were either purged or retired. The only remaining member of the Politburo with likely allegiance to Jiang Zemin is Guo Shengkun.

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Hi Bill, I’m going to take a stab at the first question. I am an Australian and the Australian public’s sentiment toward China is currently the worst I have ever seen. This has been shown with the survey conducted by the Lowy Institute earlier this week.

I don’t see PRC-Australia relations deteriorating to that of US-PRC relations. Australia is largely dependent on China in terms of mining exports, tourism and education. However I think Australia is rightfully pushing the line with China to see how far they can take it, asserting to to China that Australia is It’s own established nation with its own interests in the region. Australia is a country that advocates multilateralism and cooperation, and obviously wants to cooperate with China. Yet, Australia also will pursue and follow through with certain things that are for the nations best interests.

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