While COVID-19 has wrought havoc across the world, one of the things we can be thankful for is that it has exposed the true character of the dangerous red elephant in the room: the Chinese communist regime.
Before we go any further, let’s clarify that by “China”, I am referring to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), not the Chinese people. There is a clear difference, and this is critical.
At the time I am writing this, there are 785,712 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Countless Chinese citizens who have spoken out about China’s negligence in dealing with the virus have been imprisoned, and some probably killed. Stephen Lee Myers from the New York Times writes: “The central health authorities first learned about the outbreak not from the reporting system but after unknown whistle-blowers leaked two internal documents online.”
While it is clear that Wuhan is home to a CCP-owned virology lab, it’s not clear whether this is where the virus originated, and whether it was indeed manufactured as a biological weapon. Regardless, China is exploiting the current state of international instability and insecurity to expand and advance its objectives and power. This ought to be no surprise, since China’s international ambitions are simply an extension of its domestic policy—authoritarian control.
Here are eight reasons why Australians need to wake up to the geopolitical threat that China poses to Australia’s national security and identity.
The world depends on China for pharmaceuticals
Most countries rely on China for the ingredients needed in pharmaceutical medicines. This is because China has less-stringent manufacturing regulations and therefore is able to produce chemical ingredients at much cheaper rates.
What’s more, some generic antibiotics are manufactured exclusively by the Chinese. Having control in such a pivotal area gives them a huge economic advantage. According to Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine: “If China turned off its international pharmaceutical supply chain then military hospitals and clinics would cease to function within months, if not days.”
Holly Strom and Kenneth Schell, both past presidents of the California State Pharmacy Board, documented:
The FDA has identified roughly 20 drugs that are solely made in or derive their active pharmaceutical ingredients from China. The US is partly reliant on Chinese raw ingredients for 370 medicines deemed “essential” by the World Health Organization. According to one research study, the prices on pharmaceutical raw materials have grown by up to 50% since the outbreak began.
Despite the well-publicized threat, reliance on Chinese medications has only increased in recent years. According to a US government report released last year, US imports of Chinese pharmaceutical materials grew by nearly one-quarter in 2017 from the prior year to nearly $4 billion.
China is trying to sever Australia from the US
Central to China’s expansive strategy is its desire to put a wedge between Australia and the US, according to former Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin. In Silent Invasion, Yonglin writes: “Essentially, in accordance with their fixed strategic plans, the Communist Party of China had begun a structured effort to infiltrate Australia in a systematic way.”
One of the primary means by which China achieves this goal is by influencing Australia’s domestic elections. Up until two years ago, Chinese businesses were the largest donors to Australian political parties. This activity has since been muffled by Canberra’s “anti-foreign intervention laws”, but it still presents an obvious threat to Australia’s political stability and security.
In early 2019, China revealed an unprecedented class of hypersonic weapons that are capable of travelling thousands of kilometres extremely quickly. Considering that both US and Australian vessels and ports are at risk, there is no better time to bolster our partnership with the US.
China is persecuting Christians
Contrary to popular belief, the most persecuted “minority group” in the world is not those who identify as LGBTQI. Rather, Christians are the most persecuted group. The only reason we don’t hear this is because the secular media is adamant that we only hear about the atrocities which they deem acceptable to broadcast.
Besides those Christians living in Muslim dictatorships, Christians are severely persecuted in communist nations, such as China. In one of China’s major cities, Guangzhou, Chinese citizens can now be rewarded with up to 10,000 yuan by the government for informing on those who practise “illegal religious activities” including meeting for house-churches. As Christianity Today posted in 2017:
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that Communist Party of China officials visited believers’ homes in Yugan county of Jiangxi province—where about 10 percent of the population is Christian. They urged residents to replace personal religious displays with posters of President Xi Jinping; more than 600 removed Christian symbols from their living rooms, and 453 hung portraits of the Communist leader.
China is aggressively seeking to expand
China is gradually strangling the economies of lesser nations until they either collapse or sell themselves to China. Consider three of their most recent economic policies.
The Belt and Road Initiative. In 2013 Xi Jinping announced that China would launch its “Belt and Road Initiative” in an attempt to bolster China’s economic dominance.
In 2015, the Northern Territory government leased the Darwin port to Chinese company Landbridge for $506 million. The most shocking revelation is not the amount of money paid, but the length of the lease—ninety-nine years. This strategic move is consistent with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The initiative seeks to expand Chinese banks across the globe, create major Chinese-owned trade routes, and undertake a number of mining and energy projects. Part of this strategy involves trapping nations in debt in an attempt to gain control over their assets, resources and territory.
Debt-trapping Third World nations. China has recently been under international fire for its corrupt practices in Third World nations. Essentially, Chinese banks and entities have been lending money at low rates to nations that they know will not be able to pay the loans back.
These nations—such as Venezuela, Fiji, Tonga and Sri Lanka—have been forced to pay for their loans by giving strategic ports to China, and giving up land for Chinese military bases and airports. To consider the extent of this problem, consider what the Economist has to say:
China’s overseas lending [has] risen from almost nothing in 2000 to more than $700 billion today. It is the world’s largest official creditor, more than twice as big as the World Bank and IMF combined. Yet tracking the money is hard because of limited transparency in its disclosures.
Antarctica. According to recent reports, China has expanded its Taishan Antarctic Base beyond its assigned boundaries, signalling the need for Australia to invest more in surveillance of this region. As Professor Anne-Marie Brady writes: “China is expanding its military and modernising its military and the Arctic and Antarctic have an important part to play in that.”
Though China’s Antarctic bases have not shown signs of military expansion to date, little investment has been made by world governments to monitor their activity. For this reason, China’s presence stands as a moderate threat to Australia’s security.
Meanwhile, Western nations are enticed to offshore their manufacturing and development by the offer of cheap labour and limited regulations. This is not to say that all the consequences of this economic partnership are deleterious, but that Australia has placed itself in a vulnerable economic and political position. We are sacrificing our national sovereignty and identity on the altar of short-term economic gain.
China is crushing freedom of speech
Like all Marxist states, China has no interest in the truth. As Martyn Iles writes:
For communists, there is no higher authority than the state. And when you’re in that situation, you wind up with a couple of things.
You wind up, firstly, with atheism as the preferred, if not the enforced, religion; and you wind up with a situation in which the state is no longer the servant of truth, but, as the ultimate authority, becomes an author of “truth”.
Freedom of speech and the free flow of information are the great threats to a communist dictatorship. The Chinese government censors, filters and controls the information available to its citizens using the “Great Firewall of China”.
According to Freedom House:
The CCP’s Central Propaganda Department, government agencies, and private companies employ hundreds of thousands or even millions of people to monitor, censor, and manipulate online content. Material on a range of issues is systematically censored, with the most censored topics in 2017 involving breaking news related to health and safety, media censorship, official wrongdoing, foreign affairs, the reputation of the party or officials, or civil society activism.
Internationally, Beijing has censored and monitored communications on its government-subsidised platforms and social media applications, and has repeatedly interfered with international news outlets.
For example, consider WeChat, which has over a billion daily users and has been time and time again criticised for its censorship and manipulation of information. If you want a first-hand look at the sort of information suppression and ideological control that the CCP exerts over its citizens, just read WeChat’s “Terms and Conditions”.
You can summarise the terms like this:
# Don’t speak a word against the Chinese government.
# Don’t practise a religion that is inconsistent with the religion of Marxist atheism.
# If you do either A or B, you will be prosecuted.
While encroaching on the personal data of citizens is not unique to China—as we saw with the whole Facebook debacle—the uniqueness of the Chinese situation is that we’re dealing with government-subsidised and government-run platforms, not private entities. The Chinese government is using these platforms not only to monitor Chinese citizens, but also to monitor anyone using its platforms.
Australia’s domestic security is being sacrificed for money
Time and time again, Australia’s national security is being exchanged for short-term economic gains. Rory Medcalf sums it up like this: “Essentially, Beijing wants from its commercial partners the same deal that it has with its own people—economic benefits in return for acquiescence on politics and security.”
The chief way that China is influencing Australia is through economic means—control of data, assets, ports and trade. China seeks to generate in Australia a sense of economic dependence, in order that Australia will appease China’s decision to expand into the South-East Asia seas.
This is also true on the domestic front. Former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari perfectly embodied this renegadism when he resigned from Senate back in 2018 in response to revelations that he was involved in corrupt financial dealings with China. Nevertheless, this is consistent with the Labor Party’s broad policy, which seeks to diplomatise Australia’s relations with China.
While the lucrative promise of Chinese investment and political bargaining remains alluring, the price Australia will pay in a loss of national security and identity may be far greater than we realise.
Human-rights violations in China
Though limited data is available on the extent of China’s violations of human rights, it is clear that China continues to abuse numerous basic human rights. We’ve already looked at the abuses of freedom of speech, privacy and freedom of religion, so let’s focus on three more key areas of violation.
Torture. Torture remains commonplace as a way of dealing with political dissidents, religious groups and criminals. For instance, according to the Guardian, more than a million Uighur people are held in Chinese detention centres where they are being abused and used for forced labour. In the camps, rape is used as a means of “re-education”, sometimes so brutally that the victims die.
Forced abortion. China still advocates population control, and this is manifest in its “two-child policy”. According to the Lozier Institute, if expectant parents in China exceed the permitted limit of two children, and cannot pay the fine for their “crime”, they are forced to abort the child.
Breeding list. The Handmaid’s Tale is no longer a myth! But it isn’t a fundamentalist Christian nation propagating the dystopian narrative, as Margaret Atwood predicted, but rather the communist nation of China. The Guardian reports:
An open database in China contains the personal information of more than 1.8 million women [who are capable of bearing children], including their phone numbers, addresses, and something called “BreedReady” status, according to a researcher.
While many continue to mock those who raise concerns over Chinese expansion, it is clear that these concerns are legitimate—we must not regard warnings of China’s rise as “fear mongering”. It is in the Chinese government’s interests for us to continue attacking those who seek to expose the corruption and devastation caused by the CCP, because we’re already doing their job for them.
COVID-19 has further exposed the faulty foundations upon which Australia’s relationship with China is built. If Australia wants to preserve its national identity and security, we must address the elephant in the room and stand firm against the Orwellian Chinese dystopia. The way forward is to further invest in our partnership with the United States and bolster our national and international defences. Short-term economic gains with China are not worth the ideological and political suffocation that will come as a result.
James Jeffery graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Political, Economic and Social Sciences and is now undertaking his Master of Divinity at Christ College. A referenced version of this article, with diagrams, appears at Quadrant Online.