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Friday, 11 November 2022 11:50

Ex-chief of ASPI Jennings again pushing the anti-China line Featured

Ex-chief of ASPI Jennings again pushing the anti-China line Image by Andrea Bohl from Pixabay

The former chief of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, appears to be in serious denial about one thing: no matter the state of bilateral relations with China, Australia is dependent on that country for its economic well-being.

That's probably why he is always dishing out his propaganda to the Federal Government or the states to dissociate themselves from this or that involvement with a Chinese entity.

As iTWire has detailed quite often, ASPI, mostly funded by the Australian Government, calls itself an independent think-tank but is a lobby group for the defence industry and big technology companies.

Jennings periodically ventilates his views — which are nauseatingly similar from week to week — in theThe Australian, trying to push the government to toe the US line. In fact, he seems to think he has a better idea of how to run the country, judging by the gratuitous advice he often doles out to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Jennings appears to have nightmares every night about China invading this country – or, more likely, he is just pumping up the hype to increase the fear factor. This is an old tactic; the Americans did it for decades in the Middle East and it resulted in the region becoming the biggest consumer of US arms for quite a while.

But he is somewhat disconnected from reality; even the drop in the budget deficit last month, which Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced, was only because the price of iron ore had gone up. No prizes for guessing who buys most of that.

Jennings' latest beef appears to be with the NSW Government that is looking to open a new container-handling terminal at the Newcastle Port. This port is on a 98-year lease which is 50% owned by a Chinese state firm, China Merchants.

And, though he is an Australian citizen, his concern over this development appears to be because the US could object to basing nuclear submarines — which Australia has agreed to buy from either the US or the UK — at the port if China Merchants continues to the hold lease.

The irony is that when there is talk about lowering the price of gas, right-wing politicians always bring up the furphy that Australia would be considered an unreliable partner for foreign companies if prices were cut and agreements changed. But in the case of the port, Jennings appears to see no problem with ending the lease.

In the most telling paragraph of his little op-ed, Jennings writes: "Australia’s security is no longer just about the size and location of the Australian Defence Force. The safety of our critical infrastructure and our economic security are equally important. That means 'business as usual' with Chinese companies and Chinese foreign investment is no longer just economics."

Just try telling that to West Australian Premier Mark McGowan. To whom then does Jennings suggest Australia sell all the dirt it digs up each month? One is yet to see any suggestion in that direction from this great thinker.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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