China, Dutton and the Common Destiny of Mankind

The federal election result is a bad outcome at the worst of times. Quadrant has been pointing out for more than two years now that China under Xi Jinping has morphed into a predatory imperial power with designs on our region. Yet even though a week before election day a Chinese PLA naval warship with intelligence gathering capability was detected tracking the Western Australian coastline, the issue was only of minor interest to the contenders for Prime Minister. It was of even less concern to our news media. Indeed, if this provocative venture had not been publicised by Defence Minister Peter Dutton it probably would have gone unnoticed in the campaign.

The vessel was detected near Exmouth, off the coast where the joint Australian and United States naval intelligence station, Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt, is based. The Chinese came into Australia’s Economic Exclusive Zone but ignored international protocols to advise Australian authorities of their presence. After the vessel was detected, it tracked north up the coast towards Darwin.

Dutton called a press conference to reveal its presence, which he called “an aggressive act” and “very concerning”.  He said: “It is obviously very strange that it has come this far south and it is hugging the coastline as it goes north. Its intention will be to collect as much electronic intelligence as it can, and, as I say, that is unusual. We are monitoring it very closely. We have a number of aircraft surveilling this particular warship.”

Fortunately for Australia, Dutton survived the election with his seat of Dickson intact. He is by far the most mature and reliable guardian of Australia’s defence and security in the parliament and a direct contrast to the Labor Party’s former Shadow Defence Minister Richard Marles, whose political response to China’s previous provocations was appeasement. It will be the nation’s dire misfortune if the remnants of Dutton’s party do not elect him Leader of the Opposition in the coming days.

What follows is my column in the forthcoming June edition of Quadrant magazine outlining the environment of international affairs in our region that the new government will have to face.


In 1974, Mao Tse-tung set out his vision of global inequalities of wealth and power in the “Theory of Three Worlds”. His category of the First World was occupied entirely by the USA and the USSR, both of them, in his definition, predatory imperial states. Mao placed Australia among the countries of the Second World, along with Canada, Japan and most of Europe. Second World countries, he argued, were not poor but were dependent for their livelihood and security on one or the other of the First World goliaths.

Mao defined his own country as a member of the Third World. This comprised the great majority of the world’s countries then languishing in dire poverty throughout Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania.

Mao’s political prescription for resolving this global oppression was anti-imperialist nationalist struggle through warfare and revolution. His goal was to create a movement to unite the whole world under his leadership in a combined force against the two superpowers.

Fortunately for China and the rest of the world, his death in 1976 saw his grand vision discarded. Instead, the strategy initiated by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, and followed by his successors for almost four decades, gave China a state-driven capitalist economy. As a result, Deng turned the Chinese economy completely around. It went from being one of the poorest countries in the world to the second-richest. Although Deng preserved the Chinese political model of a one-party state that would tolerate no dissent, he discarded Mao’s Marxist ambition to be the great liberator of the wretched of the Earth.

However, since Xi Jinping became General Secretary in 2012, he has steadily revived the imperial yearnings of the Maoist era. Xi, like Mao, envisages a time when he or his successors will be the leaders of the world.

Quadrant published a definitive analysis of Xi’s ambitions in April 2020. Written by Michael Evans of the Australian Defence College in Canberra, it showed the influence on Xi of a group of Chinese intellectuals, including a former People’s Liberation Army officer, Liu Mingfu, and the Dean of International Relations at Tsinghua University, Yan Xuetong.

Liu’s book The China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Power in the Post-American Era (2010, translated 2015) prescribes a national strategy for China to take the place of the United States as the world’s dominant superpower. In the field of international relations it has been widely recommended as the definitive work on China’s strategic goals for the twenty-first century. Yan’s more recent book, Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers (2019, translated 2019) is an analysis of the transformation of power away from the world’s liberal democracies towards other structures whose time, he says, has come.

Yan, who describes himself as a “neo-communist”, argues that the West is suffering a crisis caused by a loss of civilisational confidence in its social infrastructure. By 2030, Yan predicts the American-dominated unipolar world of the post-Cold War era from 1989 to 2019, the Pax Americana, will break down in a contest between China and America for superiority:

China and the United States have more strategic interests in East Asia than in any other region, including Europe. China cannot achieve the goal of national rejuvenation unless it becomes the dominant power in East Asia. Likewise, the United States cannot maintain its world-leading status if it loses its dominant influence in this region.

Ultimately, Yan argues, this contest will encompass not only East Asia but the whole world. It will be decided not just by warfare but by which of the two powers can exercise the most effective form of governance in the twenty-first century. Michael Evans summarises Yan’s ultimate vision of a global polity dominated by Chinese one-party governance:

A new Chinese order, a “China model” of vertical meritocracy with superior leadership and based on what Yan calls “humane authority, sovereign state equality, and non-hegemony” will increasingly outperform Western democracy as the world’s most attractive political system. From Beijing’s perspective, as a new global configuration of “one world, two systems” evolves in the 2020s and 2030s, the “Yalta hegemonic world order” is likely to stagnate and die and to be replaced in mid-century by a new Chinese-led global system with the Orwellian name “The Community of Common Destiny for Mankind”.

Now, it is not hard to see in Yan’s vision an updated version of the utopian Marxism that dominated Chinese thinking under the rule of Mao. The Deng model confined to national development has now been replaced in the mentality of the Chinese Communist Party by ambitions to control the whole of humanity.

Anyone who thinks that this left-wing fantasy is most likely to be contained within China itself and its closer subjugated states, as it was during the Cold War, should read the intellectual literature now that it is readily available in English translations. China is not just ambitious for control of East Asia. It expects its influence will soon extend to the whole of Oceania, that is, the island nations of the North and South Pacific.

In particular, China regards the Pacific Islands within Australia’s sphere of influence as strategic stepping-stones for its overall plans. The agreement signed in April with the Solomon Islands is only the first of many that China plans to make.

The logic of this projected move is laid out in several papers and reports produced by the National Centre for Oceanic Studies at the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. The head of the centre, Yu Chang Sen, produces reports on developments that concern China’s interests in the region and gives papers on issues of Chinese strategy that should concern all Australians.

For Australians, Yu’s most dramatic claim is that, because these islands are located in the sea routes between China and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica (where China now has four “scientific” bases), the maritime security of Chinese fleets are at risk. This is allegedly because the US has defined a “second island chain” in the region that restrains the freedom of manoeuvre by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy.

In a paper to a conference in Samoa, Yu summarised Chinese maritime strategic priorities as: safeguarding national sovereignty, protecting marine rights and interests, maintaining the security of sea lanes, establishing a stable relationship of great powers and marine order. For these purposes, he said, China was dedicated to building a powerful blue-water navy. As a big country on the Pacific Rim, he says China has naturally oriented its naval policy to the Pacific Ocean. However, in doing so, it has found its strategic activity stymied by the “invisible hands” of the alliance between the United States, Japan and Australia.

Yu complained that during the Cold War the US constructed three types of Pacific island chain networks against the Soviet Union and China, which are still in place today. The second of these island chains was called the Southwest Pacific Network, which extends from Guam across Micronesia to New Zealand and Australia.

As a result, he said, an “arc base” had come into being, in which the Tasman Sea, the Coral Sea, the Arafura Sea and other waters remained under tight control by the US-led alliance. This arc base played a crucial role in enabling the US to maintain a strategy of containment and deterrence against the Soviet Union and China. Although the Soviet Union has now been “sidelined by history”, this type of defensive network remains active since China is still considered a potential threat to regional security.

However, Yu argued, China’s modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army Navy and its ambitious strategic objective of building a real blue-water navy for “offshore active defence” now required it to “achieve substantial breaking-through in undermining” the US second island chain. Yu said this was now a crucial imperative for China: “Its maritime great power dream will not come true if the second island chain remains intact.”

Now, Professor Yu is an academic and, although he must be a loyal party member to hold his position, he is not part of the Chinese government itself. So it is quite reasonable to ask how much of what he says here is a reliable guide to Xi Jinping’s actual policies.

Well, there is one thing about the Chinese Communist Party you can rely upon. If someone makes a statement that its government does not want publicised, its censors will go to work straight away. The fact that policy analyses and recommendations by Yu and the other authors mentioned above are still on the internet for all the world to see is itself testimony that what they say is in accord with party intentions.

In short, for Xi Jinping to fulfil his ambitions to give the world a common destiny, he expects Australia and our Pacific neighbours to abandon our existing security alliances and become tribute states of a new Imperial China.

20 thoughts on “China, Dutton and the Common Destiny of Mankind

  • call it out says:

    I came across this image of Albanese as Mr Magoo driving us off a cliff:

  • Mark Erjavec says:

    Can the quadrant do more articles on immigration? This is the key to the destiny of the West. You already have excellent articles by Frank Salter. My ex girlfriend is Chinese and on her wechat account, she posted that 75% of the Chinese in Australia voted for Labor. They are traditional conservatives and previously voted for the liberals, but with the liberal party and conservative outlets like sky news Australia calling China enemy number 1, they felt it was in their best interests for the Chinese motherland and the Chinese diaspora here in Australia to realign with Labor. Being 5.6% of the Australian population they may have given the election victory to Labor. Here on he right, unless we come to terms with demographics = destiny, our future is one of oblivion…

  • Lewis P Buckingham says:

    Recently the Chinese government has been having its expats divest their overseas assets so they will not be compromised by sanctions and asset freezes in the case of a hot war.
    In some ways this is prescient in that, using the model created by Putin, no fewer than seven Russian Oligarchs have either suicided or come to a sticky end since the most recent attack on Ukraine.
    It would seem that they had no chance of being compromised as a consequence.
    Back in the 90s there was a report of a long wave jamming station in North Korea which was reported I think, in the New Scientist magazine.
    It is notable that these are the wavelengths used by the North West Cape facility to contact and direct the US nuclear submarine fleet.
    We are indeed in a long game with mainland China and its surrogates, but not so great.

  • Daffy says:

    Just wait. China is running out of population, it seems to relatively easy to destroy its oil supply. Of course an Australia destroying its own energy base, economic strength and turning productive farm land into a giant nature reserve, or sacrifice will be as useful as a wet feather.

  • STD says:

    Firstly Keith, I like you ,believe Dutton would make a good leader. I believe he is in touch with what ordinary Australians expect from their leaders and secondly he is actually an Australian- he is the real deal -will make the hard decisions in the interest of Australia first and foremost and as an addendum he is the type of bloke who sticks to his guns no matter the flak on offer.
    Keith i believe the three Chinese Warships that sauntered into Sydney harbour at Christmas time a few years back ,completely caught Morrison flat footed.
    That flotilla in my estimation just wandered in unknowingly uninvited and against all the protocols ,just like the recent Exmouth reconnoiter. ( this deserves closer scrutiny- I’m not sure if someone did in fact lie or mislead us – who is and was privy to the real story- that may well be found on both sides of the chamber.
    As an aside it was great to see the imposter Gladys Liu get the punt- especially!
    And they wonder why we do not want multiculturalism when we are importing people who couldn’t care less about Australia, even if you paid them.
    If the likes of Gladys Liu ( the CCP affiliate) is the best definition of what it means to be Australian ,then the place is well and truly buggered.
    Having said that rf ,the best cup of tea I ever had ,was whilst tree lopping in my hey day – made by an Australian lady of Hong Kong extraction – she posed the question, do you know what’s wrong with Australia? Her reply had me spluttering on my freshly made scone, “there are too many Asians here”- I do not believe she was being racist, but I do think she loathed that culture, specifically it’s short comings. She loved the blunt forthrightness of actually being Australian and the freedom of thought that used to be part of the Australian character- before the corporate smarty pants brigade arrived on the scene.

  • Christine Swan says:

    If Dutton leads the party, will he stand out amongst all the fakes and the airheads? I believe he will. Otherwise the country is “well and truly buggered”

  • call it out says:

    Well, STD, I am married to an asian, who has nothing but loathing for the corrupt regime she emerged from. My son married an asian, and she loves all that is chinese, but she is young. We need to give our asian citizens a reason to believe in Australia, not hate it. The woke and the wets have undermined our values and our nation. Let’s hope the real fightback will now commence.

  • ianl says:

    In an earlier comment, I asked rhetorically what Australia’s reaction might be when Beijing bribed Port Moresby.

    Well, the bribe has been offered. The Australian reaction was to vote in the appeasers.

    Our MSM will not report this conjunction in any pointed way.

  • Biggles says:

    China’s destiny is governed by its declining population. Even if the demographics shown on the attached are only half right, it can never be the behemoth that Xi envisages. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zGQFceDrIM

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    As a West Australian, I apologize on behalf of my state to the rest of the country. We hold the dubious position of perhaps having given Labor victory–WA, a state that used to be known as a conservative one. This is at least largely because of what is being called the McGowan Factor. McGowan Cult would be a better term. Our Premier is the god of much of this state, that worships him for keeping us “safe”–from a virus that is finally experiencing its inevitable rampant spread–by controlling our lives.
    Of course, that apology should not really be for WA: it is for Perth. While it appears that only one seat in Metropolitan Perth remains with the Liberals (as well as my own electorate of Canning, which is on the edge, where it kind-of-is and kind-of-is-not still Perth), the entire rest of our vast state stayed with the Coalition–much like in the state election last year. Unfortunately, the state’s population is overwhelmingly based in Perth. So, in that way, the apology is still needed.
    I tremble for my state for what we have brought on ourselves and the rest of the country, and our idolatry toward this prophet of a false religion. What judgment do we deserve, together with our leader? When will his and our smugness and pride have their well-deserved fall, and what will it be?

  • vickisanderson says:

    Actually the former PM actually did respond to a media query about the Chinese presence so close to our western coastline. As I recall, he dismissed its significance and implied that they were within their rights as they were international waters. It surprised me as he had been very vigilant as Minister for Immigration & has been forthright about Chinese aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea.

    I think he just “lost the plot” in the last two years. Being at the top is a test of character & leadership. He succumbed to the siren call of being the “consensus man”. And his opponents – especially the state premiers -ate him for dinner.

  • Tricone says:

    STP: “If the likes of Gladys Liu ( the CCP affiliate) ” – fair enough, and the ABC/Age/Guardian never tired of pointing that out.
    They were less keen to point out that her Chisholm Labor opponent in 2019, Jennifer Yang, was so full-on CCP that she frequently referred to the PRC as “we”.

    At least Gladys was seen to be on the side of businesspeople in her electorate, so the lesser evil.

  • STD says:

    Vicky if memory serves me that Chinese warship off Exmouth was in our economic zone. Be that as it may ,there are protocols – and -make no mistake the Chinese have arrived and they do have merciless economic interests here.

  • STD says:

    Tricone, forgive my skepticism – Chinese cultural DNA is very old and long lived and yes the ABC is defrauding the taxpayer- treasonous resolve.

  • vickisanderson says:

    STD – you are right.

    BTW Keith – this was a really timely article. Thank you.

  • Michael Waugh says:

    Recently the Full Fed Ct determined that a tweet asserting Dutton was a “rape apologist” did not mean to assert Dutton excused or condoned rape. I find it difficult to accept the court’s conclusion. Around the time of that grossly unfair tweet, Dutton was reported to have said that some claims of rape could well be false. The point I’m making is that a sensible person like Dutton will be successfully attacked, even grossly defamed. He appears to be disliked by women especially in the leafy inner-city electorates under the sway of the Teals/ Greens. Of course Morrison appears to have also been disliked by the same cohort. To gain the support of these electors may require the adoption of idiotic policies : destruction of the economy to appease the climate god and China. In my electorate of Kooyong, Monique Ryan specifically stated that Australia should appease China, yet my neighbours are very pleased with her success. What’s the answer to this problem? If Dutton becomes the Coalition leader , how does he “cut through” to these people?

  • robtmann7 says:

    I didn’t notice the NZ media mentioning at all this Chinese warship patrolling off the coast of Australia.
    But now that I do hear of it, I expect to be told at what distance it was. ‘Near Exmouth’ is suspiciously vague. I suppose it may have been outside the 12-mile limit; was it within the 200-mile zone?

  • gardner.peter.d says:

    “Quadrant has been pointing out for more than two years now that China under Xi Jinping has morphed into a predatory imperial power with designs on our region. ”
    Masterly understatement. I was involved in Australian Defence in the 1990s and it was perfectly obvioous then that China is intent upon dominating the Indo-Pacific and in particular the enrmous gas resrves under the South China Sea. Australia’s defence spending has been dangerously low for decades. The political difficulty arises from change so an effort to raise defence expenditure for woeful to adequate raises more than eyebrows in the wrld of international relations. Musch easier to maintain it at a staisfactory level, steady as she goes. This was true even in the Soviet days. Stability was key to avoiding war. Change frightens and provokes. So China is objecting not because of Australia’s attempt to have a reasonable defence capability but because it is such a dramatic change.

  • colin.white18 says:

    It is all very well for China to have aspirations to dominate the world, but to achieve that goal the country needs an abundance of natural resources, and China does not have those resources, so if the world can stop China acquiring those resources by force or subterfuge, they can be contained within China’s current borders.
    Appeasement is no way to deal with China, isolation is the only way they can be stymied.

  • Mali Taus says:

    China’s expansionist economic and cultural agendas scare me and we do need to be vigilant and open about these threats. But, I think we can take solace from the fact that no one (or almost no one) who has heard about or enjoyed the fruits of a liberal democratic culture wants what China or any other extreme ideology is selling. Witness the millions and millions over the last eighty years who have escaped our want to escape from totalitarianism or strict religious intolerance and bigotry. They don’t want to go back.

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