David Cameron’s recent trip to Beijing sparked heated discussion about his dismissal of China’s seemingly eternal legacy of breaching human rights. How dare our Prime Minister engage in talks with a world leader notable for turning a blind eye to high execution rates, rampant censorship and unrest in Tibet without bringing these issues to the table, whilst British journalists and correspondents are forbidden from posing questions and banned from the country no less?

It seems fishy, given that his trip to Sri Lanka just before was all about criticising a barbaric regime. However, it seems that for a large part of our population, these questions paled in significance to the notion of Mr Cameron masking a sneaky Conservative business mission as a diplomatic trip to sell off the production of the new High-Speed Railway Network, HS2, to private Chinese companies.

HS2 is already a contentious issue domestically, drawing national campaigns against its construction and fears that it may lead to barn owl extinction. The line, which would link London to the East Midlands and beyond in about half the current journey time, is expected to create around 400,000 jobs and generate £2 for every £1 of investment. The company welcomes Chinese investment in this £42.6 billion project (and let’s be honest, where else are we going to come up with those sorts of funds), a political move which has outraged both HS2-phobes and -philes alike, who point to the 2011 Wenzhou train crash resulting from shoddy construction on China’s own high-speed rail. This fury is not simply a reaction to the HS2 venture specifically, but more generally indicative of a growing anxiety among the British public (and other Western societies) about China’s silent global economic empowerment. Britain’s U-turn on its stance on Tibet in order to get back into China’s good books is demonstrative of the level of political toadying the West is willing to go to to grab a share of this enticing economic cake, whilst ignoring a big public sulk.

Each year we are told that this is the year China will overtake the US as the world’s dominant economy. Chinese corporations have set up shop in several African and South American nations, extracting and buying resources at monumental speed despite linguistic obstacles to communication. Although such grand-scale trade provides these underdeveloped countries with much needed employment, Chinese involvement can also prove detrimental, from the Alpaca industry in Peru to the exploitation of workers in Congo mining projects. Even France is becoming increasingly wary of their precious Bordeaux wine being bought predominantly by Chinese oligarchs and replicated by substandard overseas manufacturers. Facebook and Twitter have monopolised the internet for the past decade or so, but now it is Chinese social network WeChat that is climbing the ladder, becoming the fifth most downloaded smartphone app in the world.

China goes shopping

Add to this the influxes of Chinese students to our universities (most of whom are only transitory anyway) and you get an unprecedented panic about a world in which we all bow down to China’s demands, speak Chinese and buy products Made in China. Who’d’ve thunk it?

Yet this alarm is unjustified. Because of internal corruption, strikingly low GDP, heavy borrowing for infrastructure that leads to massive debts and of course their vicious population cycle, it remains unlikely that China will become more economically developed than the United States. It was only the other day that China finally got round to landing on the moon for crying out loud. China is far more concerned with improving infrastructure, establishing and maintaining social cohesion and stifling dissent within their own borders for the time being to hassle themselves with an international crusade. We overlook the fact that it was us, Britain, France, Spain, and to an extent the USA, who once owned the rest of the world, and when it was us in charge, we were happy at the cost of the human rights of millions of others. However, criticising China’s investment of HS2 and a number of our other fantabulous building projects solely on human rights ideals is quite unfounded given our track record of general international dealings. It also does not indicate an imminent Chinese invasion or inevitable violation of our own human rights in the near or distant future.

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  • Kerry Wright
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    The concerns we have in Australia are
    a) That Rupert Murdoch is now running the show here (see results of the last election’s horrendous media manipulations – including announcing internationally a non-existent ‘landslide’ win for the Conservative Coalition, who have been a national embarrassment every since, and strong relationships/ties with a handful of mining magnates and monopolies).
    b) We are now 1 million (some Chinese say really 1.5) Chinese in Australia out of 25 million. Most ‘do not care’ if Tibetans burn, and strongly believe that it is China’s turn to rule the world (even though they know they have been propagandised since birth). Few support human rights in China. Most focus on money and family.
    c) Most Chinese students study accountancy, so they can stay and bring their families (largely CCP). Many do.
    d) ‘Cashed up’ only Chinese kids are easily buying real estate here, it is the fashion, making it almost impossible for young Australians to buy. Most are CCP kids.
    e) There have been no changes in human rights in China beyond lip-service words and fakery. In action, the reverse is true. The press is more heavily controlled and now Marxist- ‘re-educated’ than ever.
    f) 1% of Australian land is now overtly Chinese (largely Beijing) owned, including in ONE sale 20% of the nation’s water rights. Australians have little say in this process. Much of this is environmentally destructive, like CSG.
    g) Large unwanted upper-end China-oriented casinos are being Packer-built, in prime places, subsidised by taxpayers and largely unassailable and rarely debated. This is irreversible.
    h) There is a feeding frenzy of land sales on ‘Linked In’, etc, to sell Australian land for short term gain for a few. This is irreversible.
    i) China is Australia’s largest migrant intake. Large slabs of Australia are now Chinese eg Hurstville, Chatswood. Australians no longer feel at home in large parts of their cities.
    j) Our environment is threatened by rising temperatures, and more and more money is rushing in to concrete over more prime green land. China is not concerned with environment.
    k) Another massive $500m ‘Chinese Cultural Theme Park’ for 70,000 is being planned north of Sydney, ironically with a massive Chinese Buddhist temple. The locals have had no say, and objections and calls for debate are patronised and dismissed as ‘philosophical differences’ by those who stand to gain. Questioners are told that the company is ‘Australian’, despite that Beijing sent 27 State officials to shake hands on the deal, with the Mayor, who is married to a Chinese woman.
    l) Many politicians do not see a problem.
    m) Despite China’s unaccounted for 100 million murders since WW2 by the CCP, and prison-made toys and decorations being sold at Christmas here (recognised by torture survivors) and the way China treats its friends and neighbours with new murders and human rights abuses every day, ‘finger-wagging’ is the only CCP response when people are nervous about our obvious colonisation.
    m) Our schools have been polarised and ‘free’ schools ‘dumbed down’, and the Gonski Report process is now again in the process of completeing that process. Private schools are often inordinantly and grossly rich.
    n) Our new government seems to have a microphone in its ear. We have watched in horror each day what is happening here, condoned by Murdoch (who gave all teachers in Australia a $5 pa subscription to his teacher- bashing rag, the ‘Daily Telegraph’, making it the most-read newspaper of educators in the nation – for the last 10 years)!

    Yes, we are worried. Indigenous people (also not consulted) are shaking their heads. But most Australians are confused by the endless inane media assault, waters being muddied, racing to earn money in the heat, losing or national icons at an alarming rate, and seemingly too exhausted by rampant materialism and cost blowouts to care most days.

    The anxiety about Chinese colonisation and ambition has a real basis. It is not racism. There are VERY real reasons why people are concerned.
    And this in a blessed democracy.
    And this in a ‘free’ country!
    China does not (yet) assail our human rights. In traditional intimidatory CCP style, it tortures and assaults our friends, as it indeed colonises us. And it has clearly just begun

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