Behind Australia’s China reset

November 16, 2022
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with Chinese President Xi Jingping at the G20. Graphic: Green Left

The Sydney Morning Herald called the meeting between Australia’s prime minister and China’s president a “diplomatic win”. The ABC said it was a “breakthrough”. Sky News even quoted Anthony Albanese saying it could “lead to positive outcomes for Australia”.

PM Albanese and President Xi Jinping met for 32 minutes on November 15, during the G20 Summit in Bali, a day after Xi met United States President Joe Biden for 3 hours.

After years of bellicose anti-China rhetoric from Australian and US elites, the fact that Xi, Biden and Albanese actually met does seem positive.

Albanese said the meeting was “constructive” and would help both countries “move forward”. Xi emphasised that China and Australia should “improve, maintain and develop” the relationship.

National Public Radio in the US said Xi and Biden expressed an openness to “restore channels of communication” and repair a “relationship that has been compared to a second Cold War”.

However, facts on the ground are more important indicators of intent than words.

While this new posture is welcome, the US-Australia war drive is far from over. The ABC’s Four Corners program on October 31 looked at how far preparations for war in South East Asia have actually gone.

It showed Australia’s willingness to host US nuclear-capable B52 bombers in the Northern Territory and, under US direction, the expansion of its secretive spy base at Pine Gap.

Australia is also increasing its military budget for offensive, rather than defensive, purposes.

The Guardian editor's opinion on November 15 was that “everyone knows” Australia has picked a side. It is “bolted into the military complex of the US” and is “actively, openly, unapologetically, repelling Beijing’s influence campaigns both domestically and regionally”.

The corporate media tends to broadly reflect the interests of the capitalist class, but not all capitalists are enthusiastic about picking a war with Australia’s largest trading partner.

Fortescue Metals chairperson Andrew Forrest, who is also attending the G20summit, is one these. More than 90% of Fortescue Metals’ iron ore is sold to China.

Divisions among the elite about a possible war with China, over Taiwan, even though an invasion is not imminent, may well be behind this “diplomatic reset”, as the corporate media describe it. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced plans to visit China early in 2023.

Nevertheless, even under Democratic Party control, the US remains the world’s number one rogue state.

It is the world’s number one backer of apartheid Israel. It refuses to sign international conventions against terrorism, torture and nuclear proliferation and it refuses to sign up to the International Criminal Court.

Australia’s PM, once considered an “idealistic left-winger,” is now a “true believer in the American alliance”.

You don’t have to agree with the Australian Financial Review’s analysis of Albanese’s political evolution, but he would never have made it to the top job unless he agreed with bipartisan support for the US-Australia military alliance.

It is precisely this alliance that makes this country and the world less safe.

True security would mean signing the United Nations treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons on October 29 — rather than abstaining — and rejecting US plans to grow its bases and station its military hardware and armed forces here.

That’s why we stand for the true alternative: progressive politics backed up by popular mobilisation to achieve it.

For more than 30 years Green Left has stood up against the imperialists’ plans for more war by supporting union, social and environmental justice campaigns.

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