Australia, China, United States discussed on The President's Inbox

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Welcome to the president's Inbox they see for podcast about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. I'm Jim Lindsey Director Rector Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations this week. Topic is US Austrailia relations you with me discussed the future of the US Australia alliance in the face of a rising China are Charles Adele in John Lee Charleen Lean John or both senior fellows at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Sydney Australia Charles previously in associate professor of strategy and policy at the US Naval War College he served on US Secretary of State. John Kerry's policy planning staff from two thousand fifteen to two thousand seventeen earlier this year he co authored the Book Lessons Tragedy Statecraft in world order. John served as the principal adviser on Asia for the Australian Foreign Minister from two thousand sixteen to two thousand eighteen. He was the foreign ministers lead adviser for the two thousand seventeen foreign policy white paper the first comprehensive guide to Australia's bilious foreign policy in more than a decade currently. John is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Hudson Institution in Washington. DC Charleen John. Thanks thanks for joining me today my pleasure thanks for having me. Revenue Sanja Sean if I may I want to start with you and if you could just sort of lay out to us how the world looks from the vantage point of camera or Australia more broadly the politicians and strategic elites in Australia except that the world has changed particularly with respect to relations between the United States and China. They used to be the fairly complacent hope that United States and China could be a lot more integrated in the way they have the business relations. They used these type that in that China could be a responsible stakeholder. That hope is now gone. I think way a straighter is now is that we recognize. China is a problem but there's not yet agreement of sufficient agreement with the United States as as to what we actually do about it John. How would you describe the breakdown of the debate within Australia in terms of Australia's relations with China. I suppose the harder line of the strategic relates would want to constrain China in some areas limit China's power or at very least as limit China's capacity to make decisions that would be detrimental to Australia and its allies. There's a software group that would still want the United States and strategy to offer more carrots for China to change its course. I think a straighter is gradually hitting towards the former. The hotta wrote the harder line of action but eighty steal a very lot debate in camera and he brought Australia to moment charlie. You're an American ex Patriot in Australia Elia. What shortage strikes you the most about the debate that you're seeing among Australian so we've been living in Australia for a little over two years at this point and and I guess there would be a two things Jim strike me. Most one is when we moved to Australia in mid twenty seventeen. I had followed Austrian politics and foreign policy at St knew that the debate was quite healthy about the United States future in Asia no less what China was doing what I didn't anticipate at the time even as I noted things were heating up was that Australia would basically become a frontline state in the debate on the future of Asia and that's both because of some questions over the US staying power but really because of Chinese actions not only in the region but with an inside of Australia itself so it has been a topic that has been front and center sometimes a little bit louder sometimes a little bit softer softer but consistently and in some ways the Australians are quite far ahead of the curve and in other areas they've lagged behind so that's one a big observation the second one though is contrasting it what I see in Washington the Australians in the policy circles that John was just outlining. I think think have made a fair amount of decisions more or less uniformly see the challenge but once you get outside of camera the camera bubble they call it a when you get up to Sydney or down to Melbourne which were most business is transacted no less when you get out to Perth in Western Australia. Which is where a lot of the minerals come from the the debate is very very different and so within the business community? John has already outlined that there are some real differences of opinion because thirty percent of Australian in the outbound trade goes up north to China when the Chinese leaded in and on university campuses the other place where it's really flared there is a dependence on Chinese students coming in at the University of Sydney of which John and I are both fellows at the US study center one out of every four students is from mainland China so that has really shaped the debate in different ways. I think than you're seeing play out here in the US. I would say Jim that to add to what Charleston said. Australia is ahead of the curve on very specific issues where the Chinese have directed actions against us so foreign interference foreign infiltration institutions now institutions. Australia is ahead of the curve in fact. I think Australia probably leads the world in terms of the push back against China. We have pass fairly tough legislation against in foreign interference directed at Chinese activities sorry to interrupt John. Could I just stop you right there and ask you to just paint a picture for people as to what specific kinds of interference Australia has seen coming from China in his that interference being conducted at the government level or is it being done through third parties those a time when the perception was that Chinese interference was very sporadic and there wasn't a systematic nature to it. What you're saying in the last two years is a lot more information has come out about the Chinese united front and systematic attempts to infiltrate some talking about attempts to we know the politicians attempts to infiltrate both parties all branches of both Party's attempts to infiltrate AL universities attempts to infiltrate our Chinese diaspora communities and attempts to infiltrate our a Chinese language media overtime. We've realized that they have not just been attempts to Chinese have been fairly successful so for example last year we had a senior. Sania Labor Party senator fourth resign having received donations from a Chinese citizen in return advocating China's position on the South China Sea in current times. We've seen a Liberal Party a government member of parliament whose association we've Chinese groups have increased suspicions of motivation says this is Gladys Lou. We've looked at the Chinese language media in our country. One estimate east that ninety five percent of chinese-language press is now owned and by entities with direct links to Beijing propaganda apparatus that has been substantial success by the Chinese united front to infiltrate our the end of this these student bodies and increasingly quite a lot of evidence is being published by press and this really has changed not just the Bayton strategy but the public perception off China so in these areas foreign interference in particular Australia has responded quite robustly but in the strategic debate as to what you do about China in the longer term how how we position ourselves with respect to China in broader terms that babies just beginning several times John you mentioned the term Chinese United Added Front. Is that an actual organization or something else that united front is a vast bureaucratic apparatus belongs to the Chinese Communist Party. It is an organization which is directly answerable to the State Council in China. It is a substantial organization. It has at least forty thousand officials working for the United Front the purpose of the United Front East to increase domestic support for Chinese Communist parties but significantly one of the motivations are one up the objective is now to rached Chinese diasporas in various countries particularly Western countries and tried to co opt or intimidate those yet spurs is to support Chinese objectives in their home countries and it's that overseas mission as it were which has come to light in Australia which has become very grill fifth straight wins and that was the reason why legislation was passed last year specifically targeting Chinese activities so you're seeing situations and in Australia where Australian citizens of Chinese descent are facing intimidation from ages the Chinese government and is sort of cow them into not making any criticisms of China were Beijing's policy correct correct. There are two ways the Chinese have been caught effective. The first why Oy as you mentioned is intimidation and coercion so they'll be intimidation or coercion of Australian nationals of Chinese origin the intimidation and coercion could come the form form of US threats to it'd be S- interests which they may have in China or sometimes even threats to families of those family members who are still in China. The second effective way way they've managed to have presence is that they have engineered a situation where a lot of the Chinese. ESPN groups in Australia the organizations are led by individuals with sympathies to the Chinese Communist Party so even though the vast majority of Chinese Australians on not sympathetic necessarily to Chinese Communist Partie de Voices all the community organizations in Australia tend to voice very pro China views charlier astute student of international national relations and you know that affinities countries have for one another because of culture and of political governing style are powerful but they're not the be we all end all material interests matter a lot and you mentioned when he was speaking in a moment ago about sort of where economic activity is directed for four Australians. They're a great deal of business. Being conducted between Australia and China cooking walk us through the extent of Australia's Australia's economic relationship with China absolutely Jim in broad stroke the way that this normally gets publicly framed in the debate in Australia but this is actually true true. I think on a much larger scale throughout Asia particularly Southeast Asia is that there are two partners of choice. You'll hear this all the time. There's a security partner of choice. That's the United States. Australia has a treaty alliance with the United States that dates back to nineteen fifty one we share values we share interests but there's an economic partner of choice and that happens to be. China and the narrative will also run that in Australia. They like to talk a lot about the fact that there have been twenty nine on interrupted years of economic growth. It's has become one of the most prosperous advanced countries in the world and a lot of the discourse will be that the only reason and that Australia was able to weather the downturn after after the global financial crisis was because of their trade with China and again. I I talked about the second ago. It is a big trading relationship chip. It's between thirty one and thirty three percent of outgoing trade goes up north to China and that's in a whole bunch of different areas although they're generally it's different different products and services than for instance what America traits with China so it's mostly things that are dug out of the ground. be it still beat aluminum. Be at iron ore were were cold or things like wheat or wine or products such as education now. That's the broad frame of the debate. Although there are some errors actually in how that's framed because of course Jim when we talk about economic relations between countries were talking about more than just commercial relations and so one of the products that our center has turned out is when you dig in a little bit further and beyond just looking at commercial trade when we begin to talk about investment into Australia when when we begin to talk about employment numbers when we begin to talk about taxable revenues that contribute to Australian. GDP It's actually the United States that contributes. It's the most natural when we're talking about inbound..

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