Echoing the “reds under the beds” scare campaigns of the fifties, Nine Media mastheads want us to believe that war with China is imminent. Elsewhere, we are led to believe that China is a model citizen of the world and means no harm to anyone. Both positions belie the reality in a world besieged by the extremes of misinformation.
Joseph McCarthy – the US Senator who fronted those communist scare campaigns – would have approved of how The Age and The SMH even added a “Red Alert” monicker to a headline screaming that war is imminent and that we are not prepared. And although our preparedness is indeed lacking, the headline and illustration of Chinese jets attacking are both irresponsible.
The only reason Australia would find itself at war with China is if they attack, or if our Government meekly acceded to support such an attack by the United States on China, either directly or (more likely) in support of a move by China on Taiwan. The former is highly unlikely and has no logical or economic reasoning behind it, nor any historical precedent to support it. The latter is what we may have to worry about, although when China will decide to attack Taiwan has been a question ever since Chiang Kai-shek took his troops to Taipei in 1949.
On the other side of the spectrum of polarising views, an article in Pearls & Irritations which decries that “China is the victim of the largest and greatest propaganda campaign in human history”. Notwithstanding the hyperbole and ignorance of the history of state propaganda, the article is euphoric in its unadulterated support of everything China does. China isn’t persecuting Uyghurs in any way, Hong Kong is now a perfect model of democracy happily supported by China, and big business is entirely satisfied with the benevolence and support of the Chinese government. Of course, they are.
The truth, such as it is, lies somewhere between those extremes. Warmongering often leads to war which serves nobody but the weapons industry. Uncritical appeasement is equally irresponsible and does nothing to advance Australia’s role, nor help the people suffering at the hands of what is – unquestionably – an autocratic regime suppressing dissidents. Our role should be firmly anchored in our national interest, reflect our geographical reality, and not be meekly beholden to the might of the world’s largest military power, half a world away.
Kim Wingerei is a businessman turned writer and commentator. He is passionate about free speech, human rights, democracy and the politics of change. Originally from Norway, Kim has lived in Australia for 30 years. Author of ‘Why Democracy is Broken – A Blueprint for Change’.