The New Cold War
Diplomatic tensions with our largest trading partner could escalate into something much worse.
Australia is entering a phase of high diplomatic tension with our largest trading partner, China. Some commentators are even stating we are 'at war' - albeit not one involving tanks and bullets.
That analysis is hard to deny.
China has arrested an Australian journalist and others have fled the country in fear. They are placing spurious trade barriers on some of our exports. They issue barely veiled threats from diplomatic pulpits and care nothing for international law. They are also the principal nation (although not the only one) engaging in cyber spying activity directed towards our government and industry.
It's all a form of retribution for Australia daring to question the actions and motives of the worlds biggest bully.
The Chinese hold themselves to different standards than the rest of the world.
They are happy to lecture and condemn others but cannot stand the same analysis directed their way. Any statements about the awful civil rights record of the Chinese Communist Party is met with a stern 'stay out of our business'. Enquire as to the origin of the Wuhan flu ( the clue is in the name!) or the behaviour of their diaspora in our country and the threats begin.
Australia can survive this cold war, particularly if the Western World co-operates economically and on holding China to account. If manufacturing is relocated from China their economy will be crippled and that would lead to their citizens rising up against the dictators.
It remains to be seen if short-term business greed trumps the long-term national interest.
However, if this tacit battle escalates into something more aggressive, I don't think we actually have any chance of winning.
If China decides to unleash their military power and deploy their one million strong ground force in our direction we'd be done. The only hope would be having the USA come to our rescue and even that would be no guarantee of success.
China have militarised the strategic South China Sea. It has a massive arsenal of personnel, ships and aircraft. Australia's defence capacity is minuscule in comparison.
We've also allowed Chinese influence within our nation which could ultimately be mobilised against us or be part of the process of preparing for any military action.
That's a direct product of Australian naiveté, ignorance or greed.
For those that think an invasion of Australia could never happen, please consider what has happened in recent years.
The Russian government invaded the Crimea and the world tut-tutted but took no responsive action. As mentioned earlier, the Chinese have built concrete islands in the South China Sea and insisting they have the same territorial rights as the mainland. Australia sat back and let it happen insisting the Chinese would not militarise them.
When the airstrips and fighter planes appeared, we still did next to nothing.
Little wonder the Chinese have been prepared to call the bluff of the global community.
It's now time for the West to call the bluff of the Chinese Communist Party.
It will be painful to stop sending our business there but a little bit of pain now will prove to be a blessing compared to being forced to deal with something potentially much more damaging later on.