When China sneezes, does Victoria have immunity?

What is the point of the 'special relationship' if Victoria is treated just like every other state when China is cross?

23/05/2020 12:00:00 AM

In 2018, Daniels Andrews signed an agreement with China on the Belt and Road Initiative. What is the point of the 'special relationship' if Victoria is treated just like every other state when China is cross? asks Jon Faine. | OPINION

What is the point of the 'special relationship' if Victoria is treated just like every other state when China is cross?

Very large text sizeHas Daniel Andrews gone too far with China? Is Victoria now too dependent on China, more so than other states? Does Victoria have a "special" relationship with the Chinese government, and what does it mean if we do?Has Daniel Andrews gone too far with China?

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Credit:JAMES ROSSEven the most casual observer will be aware that our CBD is heavily populated by Chinese students and that our tertiary institutions have become reliant upon them. Our property boom is fuelled in part by Chinese investors, and across regional Victoria Chinese firms have sought prime assets in dairy, wine, beef and wool. Inbound Chinese tourism has boomed. More Chinese tourists visit the Great Ocean Road than the Barrier Reef. Even the AFL is in on the act.

In October 2018, Andrews signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China on the “Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative”. Universally called the Belt and Road Initiative it has seen trillions of yuan invested across the world, from building freight ports in Sri Lanka to railways in Central Asia. Post C-19 you will be able to ride a train all the way from China through the 'stans into Turkey and directly into Europe.

There is nothing secret about the MoU. It is freely available on the Premier's website. Reading it is of little help as it is a recital of diplomatic talking points and intentions with no substance or detail.AdvertisementLoadingAndrews has cemented ties that have delivered massive investment from Chinese firms, many state owned, into Victoria. He is unapologetic, often saying it is a “passport for export” and a boost for Victorian jobs. He is not the first or only Victorian premier to make a pilgrimage to Beijing – Ted Baillieu led a delegation of 400 Victorian business leaders in September 2012 and Denis Napthine trod the same path in April 2014. All these trade missions have delivered results to mutual benefit.

But this Premier has taken the bond to another level. He was the only state leader to be included in the massive Belt Road Forum in Beijing in May 2017, which saw 30 national leaders sign a joint communique. For a state leader to stand alongside national leaders caused more than an arched eyebrow in Canberra.

Last week, the state Opposition Leader, Michael O’Brien,criticised the Andrews government over its refusal to release details of any security adviceprovided by Canberra prior to the MoU being signed. The tip off is that the spooks in Canberra thought it not a great idea for Victoria to go it alone, but that advice was ignored.

On the face of it, refusing to release details of a security briefing makes perfect sense. If you get a secret briefing, and then release it to the world, you will never be given another secret briefing, ever. And why not direct the freedom-of-information request to the Feds if what you seek is their document? If the state Liberal opposition think they are onto a smoking gun could they have been tipped off by their friends in the federal government?

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LoadingThe Liberals in Canberra are constantly irritated by Andrews' apparent progressive success, evidenced by tensions over everything from school closures during the pandemic to George Pell, the CFMMEU, the safe schools program and voluntary assisted dying laws. Criticism of Victoria’s ALP government is a preoccupation for them. That Victoria has been able to both economically thrive while being politically progressive confounds the conservative narrative. Labor governments, they think, are supposed to sacrifice the economy for pet radical causes.

Add to that mix the growing number of China hawks in federal conservative ranks and you have a heady cocktail. Anti-China backbenchers who dislike a progressive state government – they can take potshots at two favourite targets simultaneously.Undoubtedly, Victoria has a lot to lose if China wants to punish Australia for being un-diplomatically irritating. Victorians should ask whether the MoU and the special relationship claimed by the Premier have been of any utility when China gets angry with us. What is the point of the "special relationship" if Victoria is treated just like every other state when China is cross?

Some hard cold facts would not go astray at this stage in the debate. Worried about Chinese buying the farm? The total of Victorian agricultural land owned by all foreign firms – not just Chinese – is 2 per cent by value. Yes, that is not a typo or a mistake. Despite all the hoo-ha, it is 2 per cent in total. In Tasmania it is 40 per cent. The Northern Territory gets to 29 per cent. British and Canadian investors also have acquired huge stakes, but there seems no hysteria over them.

The risk is that Victoria has given preferential treatment to Chinese firms and signed infrastructure contracts with them, but gets little if anything in return. Would Chinese firms have sought contracts in Victoria whether the MoU was signed or not? Would China be seeking bulk Victorian dairy even if the Premier had held off signing up for Belt and Road? Would Chinese students be seeking tertiary education here anyway? Probably yes to all of those.

Anti-China sentiment is as damaging to our interests as forelock tugging. Neither is helpful, and neither should be entertained. Exaggerating the impact of normal tensions in the relationship only discredits those who fuel them. Read more: The Age »

A soft piece from Faine. Plenty of strangely reasonable concerns voiced by The Australian and in the Sunday Age today. DanielAndrewsMP doesn’t have the diplomatic resources at his disposal to deal with the shifty CCP. Dangerous to be so beholden to an authoritarian regime.👎 If you want to be a colony beltandroad is right up Victoria’s DanielAndrewsMP street . From 2019 China's worldwide investment project is a push for more economic and political power Auspol Vicpol SpringSt

How can we impeach or sack China dan ComradeDan sees there are great synergies with the close alignment of Victorian Labor and the Chinese Communist Party. Who would argue that this is not the case? They can all get stuffed! At what point does Andrews suppose that the people of Victoria awarded him a mandate to do such a deal? And why do piss weak media outlets like The Age allow a decision like that to slide through to the wicketkeeper without exercising their self-touted role as the 4th estate?

He needs to go. The man is a megalomaniac Haven’t China now effectively breached the belt and road agreement by imposing excessive tariffs and customs clearance delays on australian exports? Their hidden agenda behind the B&R has now been horribly exposed as nothing more than one sided. Ma! Stop picking on Victoria! When your own Fedral Gov been doing it for ions, where was your smug Murdoch trained mouths?! Now piss off!

Anything that is china owned throughout Australia is already part of Belt & Road. It's not a new agreement has been around for a very long time...perhaps you need to research what B&R is from China's perspective lol! as far as i am concerned Danials should be removed from office for not asking the people of Victoria, and that goes for any politician that deals with fucking China without the approval of the people

Premier Andrews is a smart man. It’s Scomo who screwed it up for everyone. 🤷‍♂️ This guy is a fool If a Labor Left Dan is like this, what hope have we? SeanBradbery Jon Faine. Relevance Deprivation Syndrome. SeanBradbery Victoria is not a sovereign state. Tariffs and bans are applied at the National level.

Sovereignty is everything. All the trinkets in Kmart, Harvey Norman, Target do not make up for it. Progressives don’t get the deception by globalist bullies to sell us out. Even renewables Made in China won’t help. They use coal! We need to be reminded.. because it's a real privilege to be a 'Western Democratic Civilisation'... which means we enjoy freedoms, no communist country does. Our forefathers fought for the beautiful country we have today and those freedoms we take for granted.

'We all in this together'... already sounding like a communist slogan.. perhaps by the 60minutes Spy suggestion that an 'implant in parliament was imminent'.. Why does Australia have Australian 'Ports' owned or leased by a 'Foreign Communist Country'... , Daniel Andrews hasn't done his homework.. and should look up if China is multicultural on google.. the answer might surprise him.

China’s and it’s agents political donations should be banned. This is what they are really trying to protect; not Australians. Trading with China is a major risk. Extremely unstable and we MUST diversify. It's clear now the world should turn away. The point is 'if China sneezes does Dan go running and wipe nozes' to the detriment of the Australian democracy & Australian's & Victorians.

there is no special arrangement There is and only ever will be an arrangement that suits China. and Michael McCormack yesterday referring to China as our 'friend' is so misguided as to be in the totally stupid basket. there is no special arrangement There is and only ever will be an arrangement that suits China. and Michael McCormack yesterday referring to China as our 'friend' is so misguided to be in the totally stupid basket.

Kowtow- he should look it up . What is the point of this opinion piece? Reads like yet another conservative commentator trying to argue that being progressive is somehow bad. Anything is possible, things can change overnight........Andrew's may be the next pig iron Bob. Risking National security is either ego or stupidity.

ChinaLiedPeopleDied DictatorDan CedarAndrews He just loves Chinese values . So heartening . I thought the Belt and Road initiative is a link between China and Europe via Russia. How does Victoria fit in? And will Covid19 see the demise of this initiative? Good point. When Victoria defaults on its loan repayments, does China take over the asset?. As they did with Sri Lanka and other countries?.

All these hard bitten lefts giving Dan a pass on China ... when is your passion for human rights now? Great headline for these times....and apparently not! The future Government of The Republic of Victoria. CCP might only own 2% of agricultural land in Victoria but 100% owns Dan Andrews Signing agreements with anyone who has no personal stake in any country is signing a death sentence. I just hope I live long enough to see Andrews die a painful , horrid death just like he has forced us into.

It’s up to us then to boycott Chinese products. Andrew's has the state $80bn in debt i wonder if that's got anything to do with him selling our state to China? 🤔 No point and every government should be ashamed that they have sold out to China, when they know China is an international bully and has aggressive military strategies unfolding.

The word sellout comes to mind Dan supports Victorian farmers and small businesses earning profits in trading with China. 2018: China bought $20B US agriculture products. 2019: US-China trade war. China signed a $50B target in agriculture products with the US. ScoMo just assists Trump to achieve the goal.

The secrecy says it all Another Lillie bought by China I do not agree with a Victorian I don’t believe the Government has the right to borrow money from a foreign power with very different ideologies to ours.This should have been taken to an election.Poor judgment by Andrews. MIA as always when needs to be held accountable! Thanks comrade 🇨🇳

If everything is so rosy, why won’t the Vic govt answer the questions about debt with China. No such thing as a free lunch esp dealing with the CCP. Hope the FIRB does it’s job. Why would China want to pay for roads in Victoria?.....its corruption in broad daylight. Excellent article! A sensible commentary. Dan Andrew’s govt has been a great success for Victoria.

It wasn’t Dan that trashed our relationship with China. Get the news right please. It was always a one way special relationship for China. A back door way to get their greedy tentacles into the Australian economy with dodgy debt repayment agreements. They’ll own half the state soon like they do to African and Pacific Island countries.

Wise move by Daniels.

'Follow the money' to seek true intentions of Vic Treasurer's pro-China comments | Sky News AustraliaSky News Darwin Bureau Chief Matt Cunningham says all you need to do is 'follow the money' to find the true intentions behind Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas' pro-China comments.\n\nThe Australian is reporting “the Victorian Premier's office has refused access to details of crucial national security advice it received before signing up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative”.\n\nMr Cunningham said The Australian had “revealed how deep those ties are between China and the Victorian government”.\n\n“We have been more than fair throughout this whole episode” and “the federal government has show great leadership into the inquiry into the coronavirus”. \n\n“Victoria is not coming out of this looking very good at all”.\n\nSky News host Peter Gleeson said the comments made by Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas “about Australia having ‘vilified’ China” were “a disgrace'.\n\n'I think he should resign,' he said. \n\nImage: News Corp Australia\n Didn't Darwin sell port to the Chinese? That was a strange move. Is Australia China2 now? So if I travel to Australia I will actually be traveling to China2. So I see Australia is no longer its own country.

China ‘goes after Australia’ with brand new iron ore ‘threat’ | Sky News AustraliaSky News host Paul Murray says “there is a brand new threat” issued by the Chinese Communist Party who have said they “are ready to hurt the Australian economy”. \n\nChina’s The Global Times reported “it seems the Australian government has no intention of sowing new troubles in its trade with China, but the possibility of deteriorating tensions escalating into a trade war should not be ignored”. \n\nMr Murray said it is clear China is once again “threatening us” and they 'are confirming by their actions that they are going after us”.\n\n“First it was barley, then a bit on beef and now the big game, iron ore”. \n\nThe Age reported “China’s customs authorities have released new rules coming into force on June 1 that officials would conduct quality inspections for iron ore shipments at the request of the buyer”.\n\n“The buyer of course is the Chinese Communist Party,” Mr Murray said. \n 1Naasty what does Australia produce that China needs Food!! Our big problem - Australia is the most China-dependent economy in the developed world. The other big problem is that most people in Australia are not aware of that fact. China is indeed drunk on power however the Chinese economy is like a HOUSE OF CARDS - their economy is in dire straits. Looking forward to the collapse. You can't believe one word they say, they are like gangsters thieving in the night! Your threats show weakness not strength!

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China plans to tighten laws for Hong KongIn what may be a response to the protests of the last year China plans an overhaul of Hong Kong's laws that will clamp down on protesters, foreign interference and other anti-government activity. Whatever. I'm done with apologists for China. Same with apologists-lite for them, also. FreeHongKong China owns it about as much as they do Japan or South Korea. Any attempt to control it like the rest of their country is nothing but potential genocide. because lets face it... CCP don't care for human lives. My heart goes out to Hong Kong.

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Coronavirus updates LIVE: Trump blames China for 'mass worldwide killing', global cases pass 4.95 millionVictoria has recorded a net increase of just one coronavirus case overnight. Four people were diagnosed, including three household contacts linked to the Cedar Meats cluster. Three cases were re-classified, however, and taken off the state database. Everyone knows China is responsible. 7 weeks after the first cedar meats case and still more.... i guess different rules for labor party donors. So few cases . . . why are we not opening the economy . . . or is there a strategy here to destroy small business and the free market?