In an attempt to deflect blame from his murderously incompetent handling of the COVID-19 pandemic after it came to the United States’ shores, in the middle of March, the Mango Mussolini began referring to the Sars-Cov-2 virus as the “Chinese virus”1., and stated that China could have done more to prevent the spread of the disease2. Some time later Trump’s talking poodle, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, initially claimed there was “enormous evidence” the coronavirus outbreak originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, although he did not provide any of this supposed evidence3. Pompeo now appears to be backing away from a this ‘theory’, stating that he couldn’t be certain of its origin and that the evidence that it came from “the vicinity” of the Wuhan lab “could be wrong”. In a recent interview, he said “we know it began in Wuhan, but we don’t know from where or from whom, and those are important things”4.
Intelligence shared among the Five Eyes nations (US, UK, Canada, Australia, NZ) indicates it is “highly unlikely” that the coronavirus outbreak was spread as a result of an accident in a laboratory, but rather originated in a Chinese wet market5.
So, what did Morrison do? He opened his mouth and called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus not long after Trump and Pompeo had cast aspersions on China. While Australia did not withdraw its funding of the World Health Organisation, as the US did, it did call for a review and overhaul of the organisation6. Of course, China assumed the US and Morrison were singing from the same song sheet and spat the dummy. In an attempt to embarrass the Morrison government, in late April, the Chinese embassy released details of a call from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and claimed the secretary of that department had said it was “not the time to commence the review now and Australia has no details of the proposal”6.
If it wasn’t enough for Morrison to flap his jaw before engaging his brain, Peter Dutton provoked the Chinese even more by demanding transparency over the origin and spread of the deadly coronavirus. Then, even more stupidly, Dutton cited the same “evidence” to which Pompeo referred (and from which the latter now resiles), but said he had not seen the documents. Pointedly, and accurately, the Chinese Embassy in Canberra said Dutton was being a US mouthpiece, and that such behaviour was pitiful7. Then, as if to exacerbate the problem, George Christensen, one of the vegetables in the crisper drawer of the Coalition’s backbench, has threatened to summons the Chinese ambassador to answer questions from a parliamentary committee. This attempt to compel the ambassador to appear at a hearing in Canberra is certain to fail because of diplomatic immunity8. Whether Christensen knows this is debatable given his profound ignorance of most aspects of government; however, his effort has simply added to the ire of the Chinese.
So, what did China do? It imposed a 73.6% anti-dumping tariff and a 6.9% anti-subsidy tariff on Australia’s barley imports to China, for the next 5 years. China’s pretext for this was that the barley had been dumped on the Chinese market and that Australia’s barley producers are subsidised9. China’s Ministry of Commerce announced the tariffs late on Monday after completing a 16-month investigation into an anti-dumping complaint. A statement on the ministry’s website said: “The investigating authority has ruled that there was dumping of imported barley from Australia and the [Chinese] domestic industry suffered substantial damage”10. The Chinese maintained that this was not in retaliation for the stupidity of Morrison, Dutton and Christensen. Of course they would do this. Not to do so would undermine their claim for the imposition of the tariff. And, of course the Coalition believed them. Not to do so would clearly demonstrate their stupidity.
The World Health Assembly, the key decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), recently held a two-day virtual meeting and came up with the following resolution which in part states:
“Initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with member states, a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation … to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to Covid-19”…and that it must “identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts, including through efforts such as scientific and collaborative field missions”11.
This resolution has been written by someone who understands both diplomacy and the science of COVID-19. Is there anyone out there who believes someone like Morrison or any of his sidekicks could draft a resolution like that? I couldn’t imagine it in my wildest dreams.
This episode demonstrates clearly that Australia is led by people who have a limited ability to cope with the modern world, let alone with diplomacy. Morrison’s incompetence has almost overnight severely damaged Australia’s barley export market in China for the next five years. In 2018, this market was worth $1.5 billion, but because of the drought, this declined to $600 million in 2019. Half of Australia’s barley crop used to be exported to China9. Guess from where China will be buying its replacement barley; the US12. If Trump and Pompeo had a modicum of intelligence, one could believe that had played Morrison, but that is just as fanciful as believing Morrison is capable of repairing the damage he has done.
Yes it was extremely unfortunate the governments handling of a probe into origins of corona virus , but you’ve missed the main point , the standover tactics from China . Iv worked with Chinese for many years and have heard the saying how we are their farm managers . I’m glad we have America on our side , even tho
With a president who is totally out of his depth , Australians have easily forgotten their effort in ww2 , to help Australia . China is on a mission to control the Asia pacific . To trade with a communist regime for the sole task of making money has to be addressed at some time . To be dictated to by a communist regime shows how far we have gone down that slope . China must save face its their nature but to lose your countries moral compass for money never ends well . Nothing would surprise me with this regime , your talents should be better used investigating the Wuhan lab theory , it’s not as dopey as it seems . Whether it was intentional or not is the big question . Maybe even the recent cyber attacks on Australia , especially the WA government . Morrison is easy mark as he’s so obviously offensive .
While I don’t deny that the government of China are an unmitigated bunch of bastards; that is something we can do little about. It is part of the landscape within which we have to operate, and for Morrison et al. to open their gobs without realising this, and without being aware of the reason for the finger pointing by the Mango Mussolini and Pompeo (to deflect guilt for their incompetence over the handling of COVID-19), reeks of gross incompetence. In addition, the appeal to WW2 is long past its use-by date. Russia was on ‘our side’ too, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it in the modern world. The US is busily shooting itself in the foot, and there is a chance that it could slide into civil war. While this may sound far-fetched, some US intelligence organisations are factoring in such an event in their planning scenarios. China could hardly be called a communist regime any more. Communism requires state ownership as far as I can remember, and that is not so in modern China. It is now a dictatorship under ‘president-for-life’ Xi Jinping. The Wuhan lab ‘theory’, as you call it, is as dopey as it seems. It is just a way for Trump and his gullible acolytes to blame someone else for their murderous incompetence. The world has the genome of the Sars-Cov-2 virus and has been working on that to provide a vaccine and initial trials are promising. Numerous experts (not facebook fruitcakes) have derided the assertion that it is a manufactured virus, and I will stick with expertise every time. You are right with your assessment of Morrison. He is offensive, especially to people who value their children’s and grandchildren’s futures. He is also offensive to people who value truth and integrity, both of which are alien concepts to him. He has the ethos of a failed door-to-door salesman who has become a race-course urger.
I broadly agree Keryn. The irony is that China’s actions are precisely the same bullying tactics which Trump has used on numerous occasions to coerce less-powerful nations into toeing his line. We – and the rest of the world – need to CAREFULLY wean ourselves off the teat of China . The Covid-19 crisis has exposed so many vulnerabilities that it would irresponsible for many western nations not to act to reduce their reliance on China. Mind you I don’t expect any significant changes – either open or behind the scenes – from the backwater that is Australian federal politics, unless other nations take the lead. That would require wisdom and forethought well beyond our current political (and business leadership for that matter) capability.
I doubt our “national security boffin” Vol-dutt-mort has had even a passing thought about the importance of a national inventory/assessment of critical goods and services. He’s too busy trying to break down our own rule of law: https://www.smh.com.au/national/new-asio-law-one-more-step-towards-a-totalitarian-state-20200513-p54smi.html
The Wuhan lab theory is interesting. Clive Hamilton may be slightly China-phobic (from the little I know I think he’s probably a realist unafraid of the truth, albeit someone unencumbered by the onus of diplomacy, esp given our trading situation) but he wrote a thought-provoking piece in the SMH a while back. Worth a read : https://www.smh.com.au/national/it-would-be-unwise-to-dismiss-donald-trump-s-wuhan-lab-leak-theory-20200507-p54qyg.html
On the failing of democracy and the rule of law in the USA: did you see that Trump has sacked yet another top level official, this time on the “advice” of SoS Pompeo, Said official just happened to be investigating Pompeo over arms sales to that “bastion of democracy” Saudi Arabia: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-19/trump-fired-inspector-general-pompeo-asked/12261836
Btw, when I referred to the “Wuhan lab theory” I wasn’t suggesting an intentional release of the virus as proposed by the Republican nutters. The Hamilton piece suggests a possible breach of lab standards may have been the start, although I doubt we’ll ever know.
Scottie Moronson doesn’t seem able to keep either himself or his dud cabinet bunch in line, acting for the best interest of Australia at an absolutely critical juncture. It beggars imagination that after pouring out mega-billions to shore up workers’ and businesses’ financial viability during this damned pandemic, he would not get sound advice to lay low on any China-related issues. I mean at least until the severe economic fallout upon Australia eased a little next year. But here am I thinking that sane notions about what’s best overall for Aussies actually pass through this baneful narcissist mediocrity’s mind.
In fairness, China may be feeling sensitive about world opinion that it did not more immediately report a new, dangerous bug among its population. The “Capitalist Roader” elite there don’t like to lose face, so they are overdoing the retaliatory lingo, a thing that somewhat surprises me. To allow the Global Times to say low-brow things about Australia was not frequent I thought. (Gum under China’s shoe, etc). But they obviously want to remind us that they are now the planetary equal of the USA in economy and influence, if not militarily in front of it…yet. They want us to realise who has the upper hand in almost every way in our mutual relations. Charles Darwin may be of relevance there.
Little Loud Australia’s behaviour lately via Dutton and Christiansen, is seen for what it precisely is by the smarter bosses in Beijing. Indeed we are the “dog of the US”, and have been since Robert Menzies’ time as PM. This abject lack of Aussie political spine and independent diplomatic policy has a deeper dimension that has been a damaging factor in almost all our post WW two administrations. It is a dual issue: “governmental cringe” and “national complacency”.
If you know the many instances in which we have all too rapidly, blindly lapped up Yank propaganda and echoed its belligerent postures in the world, you know what I mean. Korea, Vietnam (- that monumentally mindless, deadly exercise based on frenzied fear and our playing up to President Johnson), the Timor-Indonesia struggles over four decades, West Papua, the idiotic Iraqi-Aghani fiasco etc.
It really is time Australia stopped gazing in a bovine stupor into that fairy-tale mirror that always confirms we are the “bestestest” of all. We have elected many governments, being in the main Liberal-Country or Lib-Nat, that have embarrassed the nation, shown it up as amoral or even immoral internationally; and leaderships that did not have the guts (like NZ did) to stand up to some of the inane, peace-wrecking and warlord nonsense foisted on us by our right-wing media (yes – the moloch, Kerry, garbage via US television/movies).
We’ve had so many decades to get into key reforms, to rid ourselves of that nincompoop Brit monarchy, to become a truly more innovative, productive and visionary small country like some others. Mostly we muffed it after 1980, we missed a lot of boats and didn’t learn deeply from studying those whose example we could have duplicated – with necessary changes for the local context. The present government is one of the least fit ever to reverse the rot. Bluntly put, we have a government and opposition too full of mere time-servers, third-rate brains, and nifty, shifty grifters.
That’s it for the top shelf, now for Canberra’s other puppets of the reigning plutocracy.
Yep. The rot started under Menzies; that extremist royal sycophant. It was not so much subservience to the monarchy, but subservience to all other nations who we felt (rightly or wrongly) that we needed. Donald Horn was spot on.