The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers published a series of three articles under the heading “Red Alert”. They were about the likelihood of war with China in the next three years. The articles purported to be based on five experts. The articles were seeking to alert Australians to the threat China represents and the need to become more militarily prepared. I was appalled by the articles.
First let me point out that the five so called “experts” were not experts but anti-China people as I discovered. The articles were not based on a fair assessment of the situation but on the prejudices of the writers. They were sensational in the worst sense of the word. The goal was to foster anti-China attitudes and a military mindset. As a person committed to peace and good relationships between people and nations, these articles encouraged attitudes and approaches I believe are not just misguided but dangerous and wrong.
In recent years articles and discussions such as these have unfortunately been successful in increasing popular opinion against China and seeing China as a military threat. While our current leaders Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong are better than Morrison and Payne in the way they speak about China, they still convey the view that China is potentially hostile and even an enemy. In contrast the USA is seen as our protector and friend. So, we readily join the US military machine. The hugely expensive purchase of nuclear submarines and AUKUS agreement is recent evidence of this.
There is no indication that China wants to attack Australia. It does regard Taiwan as part of China which Australia and the international community in general agrees with. If there was a Chinese takeover of Taiwan, Australia would best remain neutral and not get involved in another misguided US war. What is the US concern for Taiwan? Let me suggest it is less a matter of preserving a democracy than a nation that is the world’s largest exporter of integrated circuits and micro-assemblies. In the last sixty years it is the US, not China, which has repeatedly invaded other nations: Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to name the most prominent.
If Australia foolishly joined in a US led war, this time against China, we again would be on the losing side. With US bases such as Pine Gap and US troops near Darwin, we would be more likely to have missiles fired on us. Anticipating a war with China is nonsense.
Why would China want to start a war with Australia? They are our largest trading partner and can buy what they want which is far less expensive than getting involved in a major war. It staggers me that the authors of the ‘Red Alert’ articles have attempted to generate fear and expectations of an invasion from the north by the evil communist nation of China. The same rationale was used in the 1960s to justify involvement in the Vietnam war. We had to stop the communists in Vietnam from taking over Vietnam and then moving south to take over Australia. It was an absurd argument then and is an absurd argument now.
What concerns me is that what has happened in recent years has been a move away from emphasizing diplomacy and seeking positive relationships with nations such as China to giving prominence to military-minded people. They will always emphasize the need to prepare for war with more of the budget going to the military, hardware such as submarines, and personnel. Their argument is of course that the way to peace is to prepare for war.
In my view the way to peace is to actively prepare for peace through seeking positive relationships, understanding, trade, mutual co-operation and respect. This does not have to be only with like-minded nations but even with those who are unlike us. We may prefer to live in a democracy but that does not mean we cannot relate to the communists of China. We may have a different history and heritage. That means we need greater historical and cultural understanding and awareness.
Therefore, we will do much better not to antagonize the Chinese with articles that provoke and speak of the possibility of conflict. Instead, we should be arguing for understanding and collaboration as the way to peace and stability in our region. Australia is located in the Asia-Pacific region. The Albanese government has rightly given more attention to strengthening relations with our Pacific nation partners. He is also strengthening ties with India. This all makes sense but so too would a more concerted effort to get on with China and regard them primarily as a valued trading partner rather than a potential enemy.
Where do my Christian convictions come into this? I look to Jesus. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). Note that he speaks of peace making not just being a peaceful person. Peacemaking involves working for peace, building peace. It is not just an interpersonal matter but one for nations also. He also spoke of loving one’s enemies and praying for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). The Chinese are not our enemies and they are not persecuting us. We can and should show love in our relations with them and pray for them just as we would do for those who are our own people.
Rather than prepare for an invasion by the Chinese as the Red Alert authors propose, we should be seeking to convey that we are a friendly and trustworthy nation who benefits from their trade, welcomes their students, and appreciates their long culture. Rather than continue to be an arm of the US military and follow the US in wars it gets involved in, we should move to become more independent. We should stay away from wars that do not affect us directly. Instead, we should foster good relations not only with like-minded nations such as the UK and the US. but with the nations in our region in particular, including China.
Rev. Dr Chris Walker
This piece previously appeared on Rev. Dr Chris Walker’s blog. Read the original post here