Source: Chinese Media
In the 45th minute of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian’s tweeting the cartoon “Australian Army cut the throat of an Afghan teenager”, Australian Prime Minister Morrison held an emergency press conference.
He was angry and had little time to consult a diplomatic adviser. He did not discuss whether to let the Foreign Minister or the Defense Minister come forward on his behalf.
The following week, international public opinion witnessed China’s loud voice and Morrison’s “change of face”.
“China won effortlessly.” The Sydney Morning Herald commented on the 5th that Morrison’s anger must come from the bottom of his heart to “personally respond” to the spokesman of other foreign ministries as the country’s top leader. His anger caused Australia to spend a week discussing the matter, and also launched a self-examination and self-criticism at home.
The country is divided into two factions. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on the 5th that one believes that Morrison has no other choice, which is the only choice to fight against “coercion”; the other believes that this is a huge mistake, and Morrison’s panic and anger set off China’s strength. Abroad, Danny Russel, the former Assistant Secretary of State for the Asia-Pacific region in the Obama-Biden era, commented on his statement as “clumsy and ill-conceived”.
“Self-examination” ends with a cynicism at Morrison’s diplomatic skills. Business people and some Labour Party (in opposition) politicians’ call for a “restart” of Sino-Australian relations, and Morrison’s expectation of sending positive signals to China or taking the initiative to “call” have not become the main result of “reflection” on the mainstream media positions in Australia. A cartoon published in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed the heart: the “Twitter” logo on the mousetrap flashed, and a kangaroo was attracted to the flashing direction.
The Australian media saved Morrison’s face in this way – “true temperament” he neglected diplomatic skills, could not restrain his anger, and fell into the Chinese “trap”. There are three possibilities of “trap” conspiracy theories circulating in Australian public opinion: first, Australia’s two parties will be “divided and ruled” by China because of how to deal with China’s relations; second, China’s “diplomatic suppression” on Australia is “killing chickens and monkeys”; third, it is triggered by diplomatic disputes. The trade “restriction” may become China’s “political weapon” – Australia used to be a model of seeking common ground while putting aside differences and mutual benefit in trade relations, but now it is used as a target to let the international community see the “cost” of not respecting China and “transmit information” to relevant countries such as Canada.
Just as you will never wake up a person pretending to sleep, Australia never confronts the crux of the deterioration of relations between the two countries.
Australian media believe that although China won this week’s diplomatic public opinion war, it will be followed by a “protracted war” about Australia’s sovereignty, in which Australia needs to ask for help from the United States, a “great and powerful friend”.
Russell, a closely-cooperative colleague during Biden’s presidency and the “old acquaintance” of the new U.S. government to be a member of the national security team, declared to the Sydney Morning Herald that concessions may be Australia’s worst choice. “If your reaction is compromise, you will bear more.”
He cited a statement of “support for Australia” released this week by Sullivan, the candidate national security adviser of the United States. “Sullivan tweeted, ‘The Australian people have made great sacrifices to protect the freedom and democracy of the world. For a century, the American people will walk side by side with the Australians, uniting the democratic country to promote the security, prosperity and values we share, which I think is the difference between ‘American leadership’ and the Trump administration’s ‘America First’.”
Russell said that Australia’s firm defense of sovereignty is in the interest of the United States. “This is not altruism or an act of viewing… If Australia does not defend, the geopolitical environment will be very disadvantageous to us.
As for the specific measures that the Biden administration may take, Russell “disclosed” that “like-minded” countries cooperate in the supply and demand of related goods. For example, in response to Australia’s current experience, other countries can help buy Australian goods “restricted” by China and form a “buyer club” to alleviate Australia’s economic and trade pain.
Interestingly, the Sydney Morning Herald compared Australia’s “g for help” to the so-called Chinese “kill chickens and monkeys”. “Luckienly, the chickens are still alive and waiting for the monkey’s help”.