Beware the bully who is supposed to be watching Australia's back

Obviously, the values of Trump’s America don’t align with ours.

22/05/2020 8:52:00 PM

Perspective: Australia's success in suppressing the first wave of the coronavirus doesn't sit well with the US President's latest attempt to avoid responsibility for the American death toll now approaching 100,000.

Obviously, the values of Trump’s America don’t align with ours.

Very large text sizeScott Morrison might owe Donald Trump a strategic apology. Australia's success in suppressing the first wave of the coronavirus doesn't sit well with the US President's latest attempt to avoid responsibility for the American death toll now approaching 100,000.

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Because if Trump is to be believed, no one could have stopped the plague. How else should the Prime Minister read the tweet Trump sent on Wednesday, directed at "some whacko in China" who was "blaming everybody other than China for the Virus which has now killed hundreds of thousands of people"?

President Trump isn't paying much attention to Australia's success against COVID-19.Credit:AP"Please explain to this dope that it was the 'incompetence of China', and nothing else, that did this mass Worldwide killing!" the President tweeted.

By that reckoning, the roll call of nations that have avoided the worst of the pandemic so far, including Australia and Zealand in the Asia Pacific, South Korea and Taiwan in Asia, and Denmark and Greece in Europe, must have been lucky. All were in the direct line of transmission from Wuhan, but somehow the plague didn't bother knocking on their door.

AdvertisementThis is patently absurd. In Australia's case, the country responsible for the greatest number of infections happened to be the United States, not China. We closed our borders to China as soon as we appreciated the risk; just as Trump himself did in late January. But the Americans weren't testing for the virus, and Australian health officials drew false comfort from their apparent low number of cases in February. The virus almost got away from us because of a failure to anticipate the threat of community transmission from Australians returning from winter holidays in the US.

It was only after we shut the border to the US in late March, and enforced a 14-day quarantine for all Australians coming home, that the virus was suppressed. But that detail is best avoided between friends, because it would only draw Morrison into the cross-hairs of Trump's digital grievances.

Illustration: Simon LetchCredit:The President's trash-talking approach to international diplomacy lost its power to shock soon after his inauguration in 2017. Allies like Australia, and competitors like China, don't take his tweets literally because they know his intended audience is domestic, and that he routinely changes his positions. A threat to wipe out a country soon turns to a sheepish invitation to talk, as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un learned.

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But it can't have escaped Australia's attention that Trump is testing a new boundary in his attacks on China, and that this might complicate the Morrison government's attempts to stand up to Beijing.Trump wanted to preserve the appearance of mutual respect with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Until this week. On Thursday, he followed up the "wacko" tweet with a direct jab at Xi. "[China's] disinformation and propaganda attack on the United States and Europe is a disgrace. It all comes from the top. They could have easily stopped the plague, but they didn't!"

LoadingTrump sees China as a useful foil in the coming election, and the Democrat nominee Joe Biden is happy to fight on this turf. Biden's campaign team has already broadcast racially charged ads accusing Trump of rolling over to the Chinese. A bipartisan escalation appears to be unavoidable.

There is a long history of "using China as a campaign cudgel" at election time, dating back to Bill Clinton in 1992, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, wrote inThe New York Timesthis week. But she warns that the old playbook is "particularly dangerous in these tense times when it fuels anti-Asian hostility at home and anti-American sentiment abroad, makes governing more difficult and raises the prospect of a costly Cold War – or worse".

Australia should pause and reflect. There has been a tendency lately for the Australian and Chinese governments to trade cartoonish insults. Who started it tends to get lost in the mutual indignation. The danger for Australia is that we validate Chinese invective by accepting it as the normal way to do business. The risk beyond the immediate commercial relationship with China is that the rest of the world sees us as a smaller version of Trump's America, and stops taking us seriously.

Obviously, the values of Trump's America don't align with ours. Trump divides his country by political reflex. This wouldn't be unusual if he understood where to draw the line between robust debate and vilification, and between the scrutiny of his opponents and the criminalisation of their public service. But he doesn't. The race baiting at home, and abroad, isn't a tactic; it comes from deep within. So do the calls to lock people up. It is who he is. The bully that is supposed to have our back, Washington, is often indistinguishable from the bully who now threatens our economy, Beijing.

LoadingAnd Trump's economic interest in promoting an America First international order undermines our interest in a global trading system in which all nations continue to do business in good faith.Australia's two-way trade with China represents 26 per cent of our total trade with the world. Last financial year, that relationship was worth $235 billion, which almost equalled the combined value of our two-way trade with Japan ($88.5 billion), the United States ($76.4 billion), South Korea ($41.4 billion) and Singapore ($32.7 billion), our trading partners ranked second to fifth.

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Our two-way trade in goods and services with the Chinese has been in surplus since the global financial crisis of 2008-9, and for many decades more with the Japanese. With the Americans, we have always been in deficit. Last financial year, the surplus with China was $71.4 billion, and with Japan it was $34.9 billion. The deficit with the US was $26.9 billion.

Australia is the world's largest supplier of iron ore and coal, and China is the world's largest importer of these two commodities. In the year to March, Australia sold $82.6 billion in iron ore and $14 billion in coal to China – 64 per cent of our total export of goods to China in that period. The Chinese don't have another quarry, either at home, or overseas, that can easily replace Australia's. Their dependency on our raw materials might increase in the short run as Beijing restarts its industries after the lockdown.

If Trump took the time to ponder these numbers he might just advise Morrison to play nice with the Chinese because they let us screw them. He'd also be grateful that Australia allows itself to be ripped off by the Americans.LoadingOn the other hand, if the Chinese continue to pick off our second-tier exports to teach us a lesson for speaking out, perhaps Trump might want to open up his economy to Australia to compensate us for our losses? For example, Australia is the world's second-largest exporter of beef. But the Americans only bought $1.1 billion from Australian farmers in the year to March, while the Chinese imported more than double that amount – $2.8 billion. The Americans would surely want some Aussie wine to go with their Aussie steak. Australia is the world's fourth-largest exporter of wine but once again, the Chinese have been more willing to buy alcohol from us than the Americans – $1.2 billion versus $450 million.

Read more: The Sydney Morning Herald »

Australia is a simple convenience - yeah, no - as a stepping stone to Asia & Middle East via Darwin - oh and Pine Gap is of interest. That's if they can find Australia on the map. Really What about the hundreds of marines due to arrive in Darwin in July? The health Professionals in Darwin are very concerned about this.

martinjcowling He tells Scomo to get up the Chinese because of the virus. China puts tariff on Australian barley. US sells China barley. What a psycho. He is a bully, an ignorant one who now wants to play with nuclear weapons to prove how big he is. BloodOnTrumpsHands Among the bullies, I would choose US over China. At least they can have someone other than Trump as president. No such chance ever in China. So this seems like a 'China-friendly' article. It's democracy vs totalitarian government. No brainer, really!

Buy American, Hire American. Fuck the Rest. Oh yes, Steal foreign Intellectual Property Too - but don't get caught. Now, ain't that Great Advice! The Trump administration will know exactly what I am talking about! no right or wrong. Why doing business with someone who is not friendly to u? China 🇨🇳 did this

Is the SMH now blaming Trump for the Virus. Resultant deaths ? Even a long bow for you Leftist Trump Haters j (o m e Supporting Trump is denying reality The press often use hindsight to besmirch people. This is the most common 3 card trick they use. For good reason; it’s very successful. People have short memories and forget that knowledge we have today we probably didn’t have last week.

Is the CCP taking responsibility!? No matter what side of politics people are on, he has let 'his people' down very badly, it cannot be denied. He is not a builder, he is a destroyer, is so intent on winning the next election he has lost focus on the chaos around him, the deaths of many people by incompetence.

Errr,you lost me at “Trump not knowing the difference between robust debate and vilification”.The Dems have been vilifying Trump since before his inauguration and they’ve never let up.Trash article, can’t be bothered reading the rest Oh and by the way, the toll is not 100k in reality. Liberally recording deaths as covid19 is fudging the numbers

If one cannot work out USA is nothing but an evil empire with its only goal of dominating world finance and having power over the world then you are either not interested or have been brainwashed. USA is a sick morally currupt society, just look at the people their, we are better Constantly jumping on the anti Trump bandwagon! After four years it’s so obvious and blatant your agenda. You have driven people to research more and find out the truth behind your propaganda.

One of the best articles published by SMH...well done! SMH doing the CNN dance. Was once the trusted source. No more Are you talking about the Chinese Govt There is no second wave. The virus is trivial, death recording has been a scam from the beginning. Stop pushing this bullshit. USA is not our friend, they will stab us the back at first opportunity.

Also It doesn't help when Scottmo said Australia contamination were from US, US hate facts that go against them Our success in keeping the number of cases/deaths down is mainly due to the actions of state Premiers not the Prime Minister Easy to blame someone else without walking in his shoes. From what I've read, his done an amazing job, given all the political opposition against him and his administration. Bring the facts, don't just throw it out there.

Did Trump started this disparity in trade or was it always like that? Im with Trump on this one. China stuffed us all up. We may have got lucky, countries (and states) with warmer weather have fared far better than cool countries... Fact. Interestingly, Democratic governed states have performed terribly, makes me think numbers are politicised.

excellent article. we don’t trade enough with the US to put them on any pedestal. This is another activist article by a former journalist called GMegalogenis it should be embarrassing for him He is always boasting America First yet he is totally inept He botched his big leadership Vain and silly. He’s got no ones back but his own.

2.2 million people were projected to die with no mitigation in place. Almost 100,000 have died. That's less than 5%. I think they've done an amazing job overall. Outliers like NY where gross negligence towards aged care contributed to NY being 1/3 of tot US deaths. Trump derangement, a virus more dangerous than corona.

Yeah. What would Scottyfromhillsong’s imaginary imperial friend do, bruh? Dumb ways to die for a Darwin Award wiv Gee-suss. Except majority (over 70%) of deaths are from poorly managed democratic states. How stupid do you think ppl are... Do some research ppl! About time to learn to bow. Deep bow. Responsibility? You mean when he restricted flights from China and got called 'racist'? This is the order by New York's governor forcing nursing homes to take in Covid patients, leading to a carnage. That Liberal run state accounts for more than one third of all America's death🙄

Today May 23 Deaths per million population % USA 293 Spain 598 Italy 539 UK 536 How small is his hands. I mean has the US ever really had our back? We hold them up as this great ally, but we’ve been dragged into all of their wars and they use our land. We asked them to come help us once and they were all like ‘lol nah’. There’s a reason NZ is no longer in ANZUS.

Everything in the world is trumps fault. Someone died of cancer? Let's blame trump. Someone died in a car accident? Let's blame trump. Someone fell of a building? Guess it's trumps fault No one cares what you think

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International students rethinking plans to study in Australia if not allowed to return by second semesterInternational students stuck in China are pleading with the Australian government to let them return in time for the start of semester two in July, saying their education and careers are at risk. Nonsense. The entire world is paused, stop being so dramatic. It can be done online Stuck in China - but that’s where they live,

Clive Palmer planning High Court challenge after being denied entry into locked-down WAQueensland billionaire Clive Palmer has had an application to enter Western Australia knocked back and plans to challenge the border closure in the High Court. ... Again, he has a hidden agenda.... but this time it’s not very well hidden. So the media outlets can report he can go to court to fight a border entry dispute. Yet no news about him not facing court for his multiple corruption charges.

China should know ‘you can’t shout at Australians and make them obey’ | Sky News AustraliaChina should re-consider how it conducts its diplomacy in the wake of the “despicable” rhetoric coming from some of Beijing’s diplomats, according to former foreign minister Alexander Downer.\n\nChinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye has not shied away from combative rhetoric in recent days, first warning that Chinese tourists may boycott visiting Australia and arguing it was laughable for the government to feel vindicated after a World Health Assembly (WHA) passed a resolution calling for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.\n\nIn the aftermath of the WHA passing a resolution backing an investigation into the novel pathogen, China has levied an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley exports, with reports other sectors could be targeted.\n \nMr Downer told Sky News the government has done well to remain calm in the face of the rhetoric coming out of the Chinese embassy.\n\n“If I were the Chinese ambassador in Canberra, before I went to bed at night, I’d think to myself, am I achieving my objectives in this country?” he said.\n\n“Am I not only understanding Australia, which good diplomats should do, but the ultimate diplomat is somebody who can exercise some influence over the host country.\n\n“Well, however are you going to exercise any influence by abusing Australia?”\n\nHe (Cheng Jingye) should try and understand how a liberal democracy work.'\n It's like an abusive relationship - they abuse us but they also need us (iron ore and housing for money laundering). They'll have their tantrum, calm down, and then get back to business. The world now knows the true face of China. The world needs to get together and break their ego. They’re flying too high. Each one of us can help by boycotting anything and everything that’s made in China. ChineseVirus Well perhaps it would also have been better that Oz Govt did not secretly record such as the Timor-Leste cabinet during resource negotiations.