Flat White

Australian coal back in the Chinese market?

15 July 2022

2:00 PM

15 July 2022

2:00 PM

Coal is literally killing the planet. If we keep burning it, digging it up, and selling it, the sky is like totally going to catch fire, drown the blue-ribbon mansions with rising seas, and murder all the kids before Schoolies!

That was the Labor, Green, Teal pitch to the electorate during the federal election, if I remember correctly.

It was accompanied by thousands of panicked, barely literate children skipping school to glue themselves to various surfaces around the CBD.

A Labor government was meant to end all this ‘planet killing coal’ by taking the ‘capitalist money’ off ‘coal mining billionaires’ and giving it to virtuous rare-earths mining billionaires.

In contradictory news, rumours abound this week that China has decided to end its 2020 ‘ban’ (in everything but name) on importing Australian coal – a ban that began as punishment for Australia suggesting that maybe there should be a proper inquiry into the origin of Covid, seeing as it has killed 6.36 million people, destroyed the global economy, and caused incalculable harm to the rest of the population.

The ban on coal was part of a range of coercive measures taken against Australia for attempting to hold the communist regime to account. It was also one of the few moments when former Prime Minister Scott Morrison proved that he had a spine buried under all the marketing slogans.

This dubious situation was openly admitted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi who said:

‘The root cause of the difficulties in bilateral relations over the past few years was the former Australian government’s insisting on regarding China as a rival or even a threat, allowing its words and deeds being irresponsible against China.

‘It is hoped that the Australian side will seize the current opportunity and take concrete actions to reshape its correct understanding of China, reduce negative assets and accumulate positive energy for the improvement of China-Australia relations.’

This is the same Wang Yi who continues to deny Taiwan’s right to independence and who said of UN envoy Michelle Bachelet’s recent visit that he hoped it would ‘clarify misinformation’ about China’s dubious human rights report where ‘some countries and anti-China forces’ have spread ‘false information’ and ‘vilified China with slanderous attacks’.


China entered the World Trade Organisation on a ‘good behaviour bond’, so to speak, because they had not yet proved that they were capable of meeting the ‘commitments and responsibilities’ required between trading partners. Everyone still wanted a share of their money, so in 2001, China joined the WTO with policy makers hoping that as China grew more wealthy ‘its people would come to yearn for democratic freedoms, rights and the rule of law.’

Instead, the economically empowered communist regime has used its wealth and influence to torment – not only its own people, such as those in Hong Kong – but large tracts of the third world who find themselves trapped by debt.

If Australia behaved this way, the WTO would punish us, but China is occupying a special ‘safe space’. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the time of China’s ban on coal that the action ‘would be violating World Trade Organisation rules and a bilateral free trade agreement’. And then there were crickets.

This week’s whispered reversal of fortune on coal by China is not exactly a good thing, when viewed in context.

China didn’t learn any lessons. China wasn’t instructed to behave itself. China hasn’t submitted to any responsibility regarding Covid, alleged domestic political interference, or human rights violations that all formed part of Australia’s earlier criticisms that led to the so-called ‘trade war’.

No.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong appears to have made her Pacific debut by peddling moral weakness, which has given the communist giant the impression that Australia will quietly forgive its global abuses if it means a ‘cooling’ of tensions. No doubt the revelations are going to set a few congratulatory headlines to print, shining the Labor brand, and distracting from the triple catastrophes of energy, Covid, and cost of living.

By ‘cooling of tensions’, what is likely to happen is more of the same – where China keeps taking things that belong to other people and trespassing territory without punishment. Eventually one of these things will have ‘Taiwan’ written on the side of it.

Then there is the separate issue of public sentiment.

Considering the severity with which Australian citizens were fined and punished over the Covid era – largely by Labor Premiers who enforced life-changing fines and months of home imprisonment – how does Penny Wong imagine they’ll feel seeing the source of Covid getting off with a handshake and warm smile?

Before the luvvies panic about coal smudging on Penny Wong’s fingers, the credit can’t really be given to the Labor Party. Banning coal has caused an energy crisis in China (what a shock) including crippling city-wide blackouts in Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Hunan. Yes, China is often praised for its renewable energy commitment. Yes, China still sources at least half of its energy from coal with no real indication that it plans to stop.

Instead of backing down, submitting to a Covid inquiry, and apologising for bending WTO regulations, China has been scratching around its neighbours, attempting to buy second-hand Australian coal at a ludicrous mark-up. As costs approached double the correct price, China has been forced to look at Australia.

The short of it is, China is not in a position to launch a ‘re-unification event’ on Taiwan if the mainland is experiencing a mini ‘Dark Ages’. Military conflicts are not settled by smacking each other with solar panels or fighting with sharpened wind turbine blades.

Australian energy companies are thrilled. As Australia embraces the ‘New Normal’ of candles and caves – shunning coal in favour of barely-there renewables – our precious coal is being shipped off to power the widely recognised biggest security threat to the Pacific region.

Now, where have we seen this before?

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