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06 June 2018

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Oh well, I have survived yumcha at the very crowded Fortune Palace restaurant at Carlingford Village. No noticeable after-affects!

We were taken there by other friends with a Chinese ancestry. One is fourth generation Australian and the other comes from a family famous for introducing yumcha in Sydney.

But maybe the ingredients were local and not imported from China. Anyway, I apologise for getting you all off the topic, again!

Professor Chen Hong of East China Normal University is quoted by the ABC on line news as saying: "A true exchange of opinion helps us to dispel any kind of uncertainty between the two countries."

This blog is therefore hopefully 'helping dispel some uncertainty'.

I think (hope?) that Barbara's friend's comment about Chinese food might be a metaphor of some sort but I will concede the point about MS.

I've also got a Chinese friend who is a chef and she says, "Chinese cooks waste nothing". She was holding a rat trap at the time and smiling.

Does being a sinophile preclude one from conceding the harmful effects of monosodium glutamate ?

Yes, Paul, the Nine Dash Line covers a part of the world that has been argued over by various Asian countries for a long time. I remember seeing the huge quantity of shipping in the straits off Singapore in the 1970s and flew over Vietnam during the war. I can only imagine that by now this passage through the South China Sea is very congested and that is why the Chinese are being defensive/aggressive.

But surely the Pacific is in a different league. I hear that for a long time the Chinese were not great world explorers. It was the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Dutch and later the English, that sailed away to discover the New World. And the map, showing very early navigation around what we now know as Australia, which I saw in Uppsala University Library in 1965, was probably a Spanish map, although they called it a Chinese map.

I assume the Chinese are after new markets for their manufactured goods, in PNG and the Pacific Islands. They have been there for ages but now we see the New Chinese replacing the Old Chinese.

The Old Chinese were well respected but many have moved on to Australia. Many of the New Chinese seem to have come from Southern China and still have connections with Southern China e.g. they send their children back to be educated at their Chinese universities.

They say they do not want to colonize PNG like the Europeans did in past times but this concept behind the BRI is what we need to study.

They seem to think that the rest of the world will be happy to have all this trade and that their cheaply made manufactured goods will be in great demand.

They have for many years printed “cowboy” laplap with PNG designs which have been copied from work done by PNG artists. These artists have probably never received any payment for the use of their designs. Now they are starting to mass produce cheap PNG bilums which they will no doubt sell to the tourists as genuine PNG souvenirs.

So we can see it is all about trade and free trade agreements may not be the way to go. Surely we have to protect our own industries and PNG has to protect its designers, artists and bilum makers.

Don't eat Chinese food because it will poison you?
Give me a break .....

Barbara, good idea but I see you say 'IF'?

Maybe it's the death of a thousand cuts that has already begun?

Just look at the so called 'Nine dash line'? The Court of the Hague declares that action illegal yet nothing happens and the PRC effectively takeover their man made islands and install military personnel and equipment.

Yesterday Qantas followed a number of other airlines and virtually declaring Taiwan was Chinese because the Chinese government insisted the airlines must. That in itself is a mere token but start adding up many tokens and you find a tipping point beyond which lies capitulation.

Just look at how history has indicated how it all happens. What did Hitler say after Munich and the effective takeover of Czechoslovakia? 'I have no more territorial ambitions'.

Yeah! Right.

One of my smart PNG friends summed up his views..."Chinese capitalism laughs at Western democratic styled capitalism. These yellow men don't care and they don't play fair. They are in this game to make the world their slaves. Am I being paranoid, no I'm speaking the truth that very few want to admit."

My only thought is that Australia might be willing to help these Pacific Island countries if they have trouble with these Chinese soft loans.

Living in Sydney, which seems to now be home to so many Chinese people, for one reason of another, I guess Australia should still be able to help Pacific Island counties if they do run into problems.

Many of the Chinese people I mix with do not like the Chinese government and many have left where-ever they came from due to their fear of them.

They warn me never to buy Chinese food. It will poison you.

So, I think, if the crux comes, and we are honest with each other, PNG and the Pacific Island countries, most of which now run themselves, and Australia and New Zealand, will be naturally drawn to help each other to solve any problems that could arise if China became very aggressive in our region.

Good explanation Barbara. That really defines the problem.

Now where do we go from here? Mark's idea is good but unviable since the relaxing of any international borders at the moment would see an instant migration from outlying areas to the centre.

A few years ago this same scenario happened in Europe under the EU. Many nations are now scrambling to cope with the results.

Brexit was a direct result of the EU open boarders policy and having huge amounts of Europeans from nations who had a lower or poorer standard of living suddenly threatening to arrive or actually arriving and swamping the UK.

Pacific Alliances in the short term yes. Military and defence treaties maybe if they are worth the paper they are written on. Future limited migration to be considered in a planned way a long way off.

Will the Pacific in the future still live up to its name? Not the way its going.

Have long felt the need for a Pacific federation with Australia, NZ and, at least, the English speaking Pacific, allowing freer migration and other movement and other integrating measures; something at which we will only arrive when Australia remembers its long history with where it belongs.

Was trying to donate my dad's huge Pacific library after he died and one well known Pacific historian told me of his despair at getting any interest from undergraduates in Pacific history at one of Australia's oldest universities. Even in anthropology, the interest in Australia is thin, with Asia being the region of interest.

What is the problem? Yesterday I started to scan the internet for articles on Democratic Capitalism VS Authoritarian Capitalism in an effort to understand China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

For years I taught Democratic Capitalism in PNG and Australian schools. The big change that I see happening in the world today is the rise of China with its Authoritarian Capitalism. They seem to feel that “they” i.e. the Chinese Government, have the right to do what they think is right for their people.

Although it says that all its build up and fortification on the islands in the South China Sea is Defensive policies for their BRI, many of us see it as intimidation and coercion, or Aggressive policies.

To carry out its BRI it appears that it may decide it needs to set up similar fortifications in other parts of the world, e.g. Vanuatu, PNG etc

At the moment we have been warning Pacific Island nations of this possible threat. But remember that China has been giving large soft loans to all these places that is sees that it needs in its BRI.

It is out to raise the standards of living of all its millions of people who live in China. It seems to feel that it has the right to do “whatever it takes” to achieve this goal. In order to do this it feels it has to set up this huge BRI to allow it to have a great control over world trade and to profit from it.

So in the process, countries that are small with little military might, e.g. the Pacific Island nations including PNG, who cannot repay the Chinese loans, might find themselves in a situation where the Chinese might feel that they have a right to move in to take over their resources and ports etc so that they can achieve their BRI.

So, from my point of view, I think it is the Pacific Nations that must start to think of their relationships with Australia and China. Do they prefer to be possibly taken over by Chinese Authoritarian Capitalism or would they rather have the Australian Democratic Capitalism?

Some people look at democracies around the world and say that they are failing. But maybe they are still better than countries with a history of things like the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The real question that the average Australian should be asking is what does it take to reach a tipping point before any foreign power becomes a potential threat?

One hundred and twenty years ago, Queenslanders perceived a potential threat when the Imperial German government annexed parts of New Guinea and other pacific islands. At the time, and as a mere colony itself, Queensland forced the hand of a grumpy Britain and annexed Papua as a British colony.

Why was it that the southern Australian colonies couldn't see the potential threat at the time?

When Japan took over previous German colonies after the First World War, again the Australian government was deaf to the messages from the Papuan Administrator who maintained Imperial Japan was a becoming a threat to Australia and her Territories.

A message from the Australian government at the time told the then Administrator that Port Moresby was 'adequately' defended when reportedly there was one artillery piece on the hill behind the capital with 6 rounds of ammunition and only 10 minutes worth of small arms ammunition for the local militia volunteers.

Are we finally starting to see a pattern here?

If the average Australian needs a proverbial 'boot in the bum' to wake up to what's happening in our region, surely that doesn't also apply to our political leaders who are supposed to be briefed by our intelligence authorities.

So when the head of the Joint Committee of Intelligence (and a former Army specialist) breaks rank and exposes his concerns in Parliament about potential regional threats, does it engender any action on behalf of our leaders to publically start preparing Australians for a possiblly volatile period in our region?

Again, the muted silence is deafening.

This article by Joanne Wallis of the ANU correctly suggests a number of actions that should be spurring Australian politicians to take more prophylactic action with our near neighbours.

What it doesn't mention is that this action must be in co-operation with our Pacific friends and entails reciprocity by them as well.

Therein lies the rub. Taking what appears to be sides entails the possibility of giving offence either intentional or otherwise.

The essence of the matter is one of recognition of intent. In the past Century, the Pacific has previously been the battle ground between two great powers.

As the old African proverb maintains: 'When elephants make love, the grass gets trampled'.

'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance' has been previously recognised.

As George Santana observed: Turn your back on history and you're doomed to repeat it'.

Hellooooo! Isn't anyone listening?

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