Going by the Tiananmen scale for calculating Chinese government impatience, any day now the Beijing junta will be rolling the tanks into Hong Kong to enforce the detested new “national security” laws and crush democratic resistance once and for all. Perhaps the scales will then fall from the eyes of all those China apologists who managed to convince themselves that an unreconstructed Marxist regime would long tolerate an oasis of relative freedom within its national borders – the same people who believe that China has become a comfortably middle-class trading nation, intent only on happy economic relations with the rest of us.
Democracy in Hong Kong was always just window-dressing. It was never going to be real democracy, the kind where you can chuck out an unpopular leadership.
Even so, you’d expect the United Nations as an allegedly democratic forum to warn China to back off. You’d expect major traders with China, such as ourselves, to be threatening sanctions. Here is the new “friendly” China showing itself to be even more unpleasant than Sino-sceptics warned and no one seems to be lifting a finger. Why is there not a tidal wave of anger at China’s manifest contempt for good international citizenship?
And where is the resentment against China for its gift to the world of the COVID plague? Is there anyone who has not in some way been touched by this curse? Hundreds of thousands have lost parents, family or friends. More than 700,000 in Australia alone have lost jobs or livelihood. Whole nations have had their ways of life, their daily routines disrupted. Everyone has been made to worry about catching the disease, everyone has been inconvenienced to some degree, whether it’s by having to stay closeted at home or stand outside in the cold to await admission into a shop and, once inside, follow those signs like dance-step markers on the floor. Is there any of us who can say, ‘No, COVID hasn’t affected my life’?
There is no shortage of voices moaning about lockdowns and restrictions but you don’t get the feeling that anyone is anxious to blame China as the source of it all. China’s many friends in this country, especially big exporters such as Woolmark and Fortescue, are still blithely doing business with Beijing. Daniel Andrews in Victoria remains a loyal customer for the sinister Belt and Road scheme, and with Chinese help he continues to disfigure his state’s landscapes with hideous wind turbines. In the freemasonry of socialism it must be a pleasure for leftist clients to deal with Marxist suppliers instead of wicked capitalists.
Talking of leftists, they act as though COVID were a lesser evil than “racism”, hence their efforts from the outset of the pandemic to stop us calling the disease the Chinese virus, which is what it is. Imagine if coronavirus had been let loose on the world by a laboratory (or, the cover story, a ‘wet market’) in ‘Trump’s America’. We’d be calling it Trumpitis. We’d never hear the end of condemnations of dysfunctional US laboratories or filthy markets (set up and patronised exclusively, it would be implied, by Trump voters). The ABC would send Sarah Ferguson on one of her round-up-the-usual-talking-points documentary crusades to reveal that it was all a plot, cooked up by Trump, possibly with the assistance of Putin (and who knows, being the ABC, perhaps George Pell as well) to bring the rest of the world to its knees and make America great again at the expense of everyone else.
Has it been a plot, not by the US but by China? If it had been we could never prove it, and the World Health Organisation, more concerned about China’s feelings than world health, would never acknowledge it, no matter how clear the evidence. But there’s no doubt who has been the beneficiary of the pandemic. China’s economy, burning up nearly half the world’s coal consumption a year – something that ought to cause The Greens, were they honest and consistent, attacks of communal apoplexy – booms ahead, while the West’s slows, and Western governments try to calculate what the final cost in unemployment subsidies and all the other losses will be.
But if it wasn’t a plot, and if the virus came not from a market but from a laboratory, has anybody asked this question: why was the laboratory playing around with viruses in the first place? To what if any medical end was the Wuhan “research” devoted? It could hardly have been for the purpose of creating a vaccine for a disease that didn’t yet exist. Could it have been for germ warfare? Might China have intended to waft a few doses of the virus in the direction of the rest of the world and see what happened? Chinese citizens are utterly expendable in the eyes of a government that has murdered millions of them for its crazed ideological experiments. To infect a few with the product of the Wuhan petri dishes and put them on planes for various elsewheres does not beggar the imagination. Indeed, it is precisely what China did when it banned internal travel from Wuhan while dispatching its infected citizens to the four corners of the world. When it comes to furthering Beijing’s dreams of dominance, no dirty tricks can be ruled out.
We shall probably never know. Assuming it gets off the ground, the international enquiry promoted by Scott Morrison et al. is unlikely to be anything more than a charade, and although it might steel itself to utter a few mild criticisms of China’s health and hygiene procedures, such as they are, don’t hold your breath for it to do what it ought to do, which is insist that China pay reparations. Why should the West have to bear the cost of the pandemic on its own?
One doesn’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that China would never agree to such a demand but there is another way to recoup some of the losses. This is for governments in all infected countries to seize Chinese government property within their national territory. The rationale is that, since all “capitalist” activity in China is state-mandated and controlled, it follows that overseas property owned by Chinese companies – Australian sheep stations for example – is the property of the Chinese government. Seizing it, in lieu of China paying damages, can therefore be defended as common justice. We could start in Australia with taking back the port of Darwin and, if we must lease it, finding someone more congenial to take it on.
Nationalisation of Chinese government property would have another advantage. This may well be the last opportunity to contain China economically before it becomes too big and too militarily strong. If Australia and other Western countries can agree to a united front and successfully demand that China pay damages or forfeit its overseas property, there could be a small but important diminution in Chinese prosperity. If not, China will continue to boom ahead to a point where it becomes beyond the capacity of the West to oppose it economically and militarily. The Pacific and South-East Asia will fall under Chinese hegemony. So will we if the US is not prepared to risk a war to defend us – and who would blame it if it wasn’t? Such a war would be catastrophic for the whole planet.
If, realistically, we can’t do much to help Hong Kong – though we could emulate Boris Johnson and invite refugees here – as ordinary consumers we can do something to rein in China by not buying its products. Admittedly that can be hard, since through laziness and myopia we’ve become over-reliant on Chinese imports. The website https://www.australianmade.com.au/ is useful in locating locally made products. Buying them would be a start to rebuilding the industries we so unwisely allowed to decline.