On November 26, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton appeared before the National Press Club and gave a speech suggesting that China’s rise to power is a growing threat to the world, potentially causing conflict. . Specifically, he stated that the current times’have echoes of the 30’s – an obvious allusion to Nazi Germany – and dismissed nuanced approaches to China’s growth as “the acquiescence or appeasement” that would leave Australia vulnerable. His speech drew criticism from Senator Penny Wong, former Prime Minister Paul Keating and the Chinese embassy for the simplification of Chinese foreign policy, the unnecessary antagonism of a crucial trading partner, and ‘desperate political tactics’.
This is not the first time that Minister Dutton has deployed scare tactics – he also played an important role in portraying vulnerable populations as threats to Australian life, society and culture. In 2018, Dutton took a few criminal incidents among the Sudanese-born youth population and strategically turned the issue into a tale of African gangs infiltrating Australian communities, claiming people were afraid to go out to dinner – prompting the Melbourne public to react as they posted pictures of themselves eat out.
Despite Dutton’s provocations, Australian voters must be able to simultaneously have two ideas in mind. While China has taken a more expansionary approach in the Asia-Pacific region and asserted its role as a geopolitical superpower, a challenge that raises legitimate concerns, China still relies heavily on healthy and prosperous trade relations with the region’s major exporters. , such as like Australia. Furthermore, not only is Dutton’s rhetoric in direct contrast to Australia’s pride as a multicultural nation, but his language is detrimental to Australia as well. foreign policy interests – Australia’s economic success and international security will be greatly protected if the region remains calm, harmonious and cooperative. Strategies aimed at these interests are difficult to maintain if you publicly exaggerate the threat of Chinese intentions, a crucial export partner and a second-largest military power in the Asia-Pacific region.
Why has Minister Dutton chosen this moment, as federal election campaigns begin to kick in, to deliver a speech on the Chinese threat, as tensions between China, Taiwan and the United States have escalated since more than a year? In light of an impending election, Dutton’s strategy is transparent simplicity: he wants to stoke fear of an external threat to the security and values of voters, before positioning himself as the best solution to the threat. .
This tactic of “securitization” is not new, as we have seen in the United States with the “Donald Trump”.build the wall ‘ and Tony Abbott’s’stop the boats’ campaigns. However, this tactic is particularly problematic when notions of Chinese threats to Australian security exacerbate racial prejudices against Chinese Australians – a group that constitutes about 1.2 million people. While Australia should maintain effective defense preparedness and capabilities, aggravating a key trading partner and global power for domestic political gain is short-sighted and creates a greater threat to Australia’s security than it does. would not be otherwise.