JOHN MENADUE The media are finding Chinese under most rocks.

The campaign run by some of our security agencies  and people close to them about the alleged  Chinese threat is getting great support from some  journalists.  The latest is Andrew Greene, the  security and defence  reporter at the ABC who breathtakingly reported last week that ‘A Chinese vessel, believed to be a spy ship, docked next to HMAS Adelaide in Fiji.’ Good god!

We have had a lot of such misleading stories in recent weeks.

Fairfax’s David Wroe  recently reported that ‘China had approached Vanuatu about setting up a permanent military presence in that country. The story turned out to be nonsense as multiple sources and the Vanuatu government said.

But that was just a warm up. We were then told by Andrew Greene  on 20 April 2018 that ‘Australian warships(were) challenged by Chinese military in the South China Sea’.  His source was an anonymous ‘defence’ official .  Sam Bateman who was a former senior naval officer with many commands at sea described the  ‘robust ‘exchange in the following way in this blog , ‘ Some contact with Chinese naval vessels would have been expected. The operational instructions to the RAN vessels would have covered this possibility and the contact conducted in accordance with the Code for Unplanned Encounters(CUES) which had been agreed by China and Australia. It may have seemed ‘robust’ but it would not be unusual given the situation in these waters’. Greene’s story was a beat up, plain and simple.

Last week, Andrew Greene  was at it again  about a Chinese spy ship docking next to HMAS Adelaide in Fiji.  There were two major problems with Greene’s account.   First he informed  us that the Chinese vessel was a converted Chinese fishing boat with some espionage gear hidden in the bows and ‘intent on marine mischief’. In fact it was a rather large high tech. Chinese naval ship fitted to the gills with all sorts of communications devices.  Its primary aim is claimed to be communication with Chinese satellites, but no doubt it can do much more.  It was not a converted fishing boat.  Second Greene did not tell us in the report I read that HMAS Adelaide was carrying a large contingent of US marines back to Hawaii in what looked like an island-hopping gunboat diplomacy effort.  It is probably the first time that we have carried that number of US marines.  Why wouldn’t the Chinese want to have a look?

Chinese influence will increase in the Pacific.  Unfortunately, that influence is assisted by Australia’s failures.  Our often overbearing attitudes to Pacific Island countries and savage cuts in ODA by Julie Bishop have reduced our influence and clout in our own neighbourhood. I am not aware that out defence and security  experts in the media care about that.

China is now doing the kinds of things that big powers do.  Just like the US has done.  The geopolitics between China and the US is changing profoundly. That presents a real challenge for Australia.  In addressing this substantive issue we are not helped by being side-tracked by media beat-ups than have become all too common place.

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5 Responses to JOHN MENADUE The media are finding Chinese under most rocks.

  1. Jim KABLE says:

    So what was HMAS spy/attack vessel “Adelaide” doing in a Fiji Port? Invited (without arm-twisting from Australia) by the Fijian Government? If so invited – why? Is it a vast port (this one being referred to without name) or does it have limited facilities (other than for cruise ships, I mean) – thereby necessitating an Australian naval ship being tied up next to any other nation’s visiting ship?

    And why is the money now suddenly being offered to the Solomon Islands government for the undersea communications cable coming from “foreign aid” – a category of funding already severely/vastly reduced from the days of Tony Abbott now into the stewardship of Trumble!

    And why might the Solomons Islands’ government not assume that if the Chinese contract – since repudiated – were to involve possibilities of espionage – that the Australian arm-twisting and Aid to take on that contract might not also be open to espionage – especially given the history of Australia and its behaviour – of the Howard/Downer espionage against Timor L’Este?

  2. Vincent Cheok says:

    JM. I was Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the PNG Inland Revenue Service from 6/694 to 2/12/95. Whilst there I travelled to other parts of Melanesia as well working on the Melanesia Spearhead Group. Whether Australia or China or any other donor country – they should all know and understand the ‘Wantok’ and ‘BigMan’ mentality. Accordingly, you have demonstrate that you have genuine affinity for the ‘locals’ and you also have the ‘largesse’ to go with it. And navigating between these two paradigms, the ‘locals’ want you to ‘teach them how to fish’ to become capable and proficient in a ‘modern’ sense, to ‘deliver’ them from the ‘backwaters’ they call ‘home’. They have no time for geopolitics and high-falutin diplomacy and ‘big brother’ discipline. So many decades wasted when the donation funds could have been spent on vocational and trade skills (all manner and form) through ‘mass’ offshore apprenticeships in the donor countries. Sort of like building on the equivalent of Australian TAFEs rather than pure academic education. Just focusing on the 3 Rs alone does not help to fast track a nation. The 3 Rs should have been contained in the vocational skills – German style technical education. (200 words)

  3. Dr Jennifer Grant PhD ANU says:

    We do seem to be missing a large body of good, up to date, detailed information. I would like to gather it but who would sponsor the task of gathering and collating? Would like to meet up to work out a proposal. Can provide a cv and character reference.

  4. Rosemary O'Grady says:

    Timely. If not even overdue.
    China’s star has been in the ascendant in Oceania for many years, and the Pacific has been reliably ‘covered’, if not effusively, by Rohan Callick and Mary Lou O’Callaghan for Australia. But there has always been the sense that only another coup in Fiji can really ignite Australian interest, or another Bougainville to test the UN credentials of our defence forces. All the rest is background noise for a nation whose tourists choose Bali and New Zealand.
    I mention Fiji because the death, not too long ago, of gifted, humanist Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, too young, perhaps was reported in Australia but if so – escaped my notice. Yet there was a lost opportunity if ever there was one!

  5. Tony Kevin says:

    Hear hear! Australian MSM need to lift standard of their reporting and analysis on China and Russia. There are always two sides to these stories, we usually only hear one.

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