(135)The CCP’s so-called Great Periphery Diplomacy

What is the CCP’s so-called Great Periphery Diplomacy? Party think tanks define it like this: “China neighbors fourteen countries along a lengthy land border, and looks across the sea at six other neighboring countries. Beyond that, to the east is the Asia-Pacific region, and to the west is Eurasia. That is, the radial extent of China’s extended neighborhood covers two-thirds of international politics, economy, and security. Thus, the framework of periphery diplomacy is more than mere regional strategy. … It is a true grand strategy.” [8]

Australia Is the Weak Link of the Western World

In June 2017, Fairfax Media Limited and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation released the results of their five-month investigation, the documentary Power and Influence: The Hard Edge of China’s Soft Power. The documentary raised concerns around the world by describing the CCP’s widespread infiltration and control over Australian society. [9] Six months later, Sam Dastyari, a member of the Australian Labor Party, announced his resignation from the Senate. Dastyari’s resignation followed accusations that he had accepted money from CCP-linked Chinese merchants for making statements in support of Beijing regarding South China Sea territorial disputes. His statements on this critical issue clashed with the views of his own party. [10]

In September 2016, Australia’s SBS News published a news report revealing political donations by a Chinese businessman intended to influence Australia-China trade policies. [11] Furthermore, in recent years, Chinese state-run media outlets have signed contracts with Australian media, allowing them to broadcast content provided by Chinese media to Australian audiences. [12]

In fact, as early as 2015, Australia allowed a Chinese company with close ties to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to secure a ninety-nine-year lease over the Port of Darwin. The seaport occupies an important military location for guarding against attack from the north. Richard Armitage, a former U.S. deputy secretary of state, said he was stunned by the deal, and that the United States was concerned about the development. [13]

In 2017, a book called Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia, by author Clive Hamilton was rejected three times by Australian publishers due to fear of Chinese repercussions. Finally, following much consideration, the third publisher agreed to publish it. The censorship elicited widespread concern among Australians about China’s influence in their country. [14]

Many more wonder why China has directed so much effort to Australia. What is the military strategic value of the CCP infiltrating Australia and exerting control there?

In December 2017, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) stated in its report Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence that the Chinese Communist Party is influencing and changing Australian politics and academia by means of bribery and infiltration for the main purpose of weakening the U.S.-Australia alliance. [15]

In its 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the Australian government said: “The United States has been the dominant power in our region throughout Australia’s post-Second World War history. Today, China is challenging America’s position.” [16] Dr. Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said Beijing was trying to gain a strategic advantage in the Australian region to achieve its final goal of ending Australia’s alliance with the United States. [17]

Australia is the CCP regime’s testing ground for soft-power operations in its strategy of periphery diplomacy. [18] The CCP’s infiltration of Australia dates back to 2005, when Zhou Wenzhong, then deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, arrived in Canberra and informed senior officials at the Chinese Embassy of the CCP’s new diplomatic approach. He said that the first goal of including Australia in China’s greater periphery is to ensure that Australia will serve as a trustworthy and stable supply base for China’s economic growth in the next twenty years. The long-term goal is to pry apart the U.S.-Australia alliance. The mission of those present at the meeting was to understand how the CCP could broadly exert influence over Australia in the spheres of economics, politics, and culture. [19]

The CCP regime uses its economic strength to force Australia to make concessions on a series of military issues and human rights affairs. The standard approach adopted by the CCP to coerce others into cooperation is to cultivate personal relationships via economic interests and simultaneously create the implicit threat of blackmail. [20]

After years of investigation, Clive Hamilton found that “Australia’s major institutions — from our schools, colleges and professional associations to our media; from professions of mining, farming and tourism to military assets of ports and electrical networks; from our local parliaments and state governments to our Canberra parties — are being infiltrated and transformed by a complicated control system under the supervision of CCP.” [21]

After the 2008 economic crisis, in practice, Australia has proven willing to serve as the CCP’s supply base due to the common belief that the CCP rescued Australia from the recession. Hamilton says that the reason the CCP’s infiltration and influence can be so effective in Australia is that Australians “have allowed it to happen right under our noses, because we are blinded by the belief that only China can guarantee our economic prosperity, and because we dare not stand up against Beijing’s bullying.” [22]

Despite awareness of the CCP’s infiltration and influence on Western society, and particularly the CCP’s infiltration and control of overseas Chinese communities, most well-meaning Westerners naively imagined initially that the main purpose of the Party’s strategies was “negative” — that is, to silence the voices of critics and those with different political opinions. However, Hamilton says that behind the “negative” operations are the CCP’s “positive” ambitions: to use ethnic Chinese immigrants to change the frame of Australian society, and to have Westerners sympathize with the CCP so as to allow Beijing to build up influence. In this way, Australia would be transformed into the CCP’s helper in becoming an Asian, then global superpower. [23]

Similarly, the CCP is extending its infiltration and control from Australia to New Zealand. Anne-Marie Brady, an expert in Chinese politics at the University of Canterbury, released a report titled Magic Weapons, which takes New Zealand as an example to illustrate how the CCP extends its infiltration and political influence overseas. The report reveals that several Chinese-born members of New Zealand’s Parliament have close links with the CCP, and that many politicians have been bribed by massive political donations from rich Chinese merchants and CCP united-front organizations such as Chinese trade associations in New Zealand. [24] Shortly after her report was published, Dr. Brady’s college office was broken into. Before the break-in, she also received an anonymous letter threatening her with the words “You are the next one.” [25]

China is actively roping in New Zealand’s local politicians. For example, members of New Zealand political parties are lavished cordial treatment on trips to China. Retired politicians are offered high-paying positions in Chinese enterprises, as well as other benefits to have them follow the Party’s directives. [26]

From Chapter Eighteen
The Chinese Communist Party’s Global Ambitions

Australia leased its strategic Darwin Port to the CCP for 99 years
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