Flat White

Does business have the courage to confront China?

6 May 2020

5:00 AM

6 May 2020

5:00 AM

When Andrew Forrest got up and introduced a Chinese official to an Australian press conference, I was gobsmacked at the lack of judgement. How could an Australian leader in business, someone I respected immensely for his courage and character, allow himself to be so blatantly used like this?  

Then I read the West Australian.  

Proprietor Kerry Stokes mounted a passionate defence of Chinese wet markets, saying: “The facts are throughout the entire Asian region wet markets are the only way to trade produce … People have got to respect that’s the way they’ve conducted themselves and traded for years and generations. 

“If we want to interfere with what they trade, that’s going to be a very difficult situation to convince people that we know what they should eat.”  

Frankly, it seems our business leaders are once again in bed with the Chinese Communist Party. That is a shame. We need our leaders to find the courage to combat bad behaviour, rather than be complicit in its cover-up.   

The reality of the virus is clear: it originated in China, under the auspices of the CCP. Measures almost certainly led to a suppression strategy of information to address the problem early.   

In short, China deliberately acted poorly as a global citizen.   

Our business leaders know this. They also know the economic pain that comes from holding a large economy accountable for its actions. And there will be pain.  

But if a global pandemic isn’t a reason to call for change, what is?  

This isn’t about lecturing on Chinese culture or Asian practices. It’s about identifying a behaviour which led to a very real public health pandemic — and not just now. To stop that occurring again and again, particularly in a globalised world, we must stop the behaviour 

And our business leaders play a critical role in that.   

Here’s what they don’t want to tell you: we have leverage through our business leader’s relationships with China. Our business leaders export a hell of a lot to China out of Australia, including crucial resources like iron ore and coal 

These aren’t simple resources to find, and they aren’t discretionary resources either. They are critical resources that if disrupted, pose real problems to the development of CCP infrastructure programs and policies. There’s no doubt that this will play heavily on the mind in any geopolitical stoush  

And the main beneficiaries of these resource finds are our business leaders, particularly those in Western Australia.  

If we’re to enact change and to stop a pandemic, then, Australia may have a real role to play and real leverage to create change. Let’s hope our business leaders find the courage to help create change with us.  

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