Andrew Hastie, an Australian MP, has warned that China’s rise is similar to that of Nazi Germany and presents a grave security threat to his country.
China and Nazi Germany
“The West once believed that economic liberalization would naturally lead to democratization in China. This was our Maginot Line. It would keep us safe, just as the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940. But their thinking failed catastrophically. The French had failed to appreciate the evolution of mobile warfare. Like the French, Australia has failed to see how mobile our authoritarian neighbor has become,” Hastie wrote in an opinion piece (The Sydney Morning Herald).
He pointed out that the West had made a similar mistake with Soviet Russia, believing that the actions of Joseph Stalin were logical enough to be that of a realist power. In an interview, Hastie made a clear separation between the Chinese government and its people, saying that his problem was not with the average citizens of China, but with the communist government ruling over them. He also extended his support to the Hong Kong protestors.
Hastie expressed relief that the Australian government had banned Chinese tech company Huawei from building the 5G infrastructure in the country. He also sees the passage of new foreign interference and espionage laws to be in Australia’s interest. However, Hastie believes that more must be done to counter the Chinese government’s influence. He warned that Xi’s vision of the future is one where capitalism will be suppressed in favor of socialist systems. Hastie wants Australian politicians and intelligentsia to understand China for what it is and adapt their thought processes to counter the Communist nation’s influence and keep Australia safe.
Following Hastie’s article, the Chinese embassy had some harsh words for the politician. “We strongly deplore the Australian federal MP Andrew Hastie’s rhetoric on ‘China threat’ which lays bare his Cold-War mentality and ideological bias… History has proven and will continue to prove that China’s peaceful development is an opportunity, not a threat to the world,” the embassy said in a statement (BBC).
A change in power
Hastie’s observations have found strong support from Dave Sharma, member of the Australian Parliament for Wentworth. “Hastie is right to ring the bell on this issue, and to warn that our greatest vulnerability lies in our thinking, which is Panglossian at times,” Sharma said in a tweet. He went on to explain how China’s rise threatens the existing order in a series of follow-up tweets.
According to Sharma, there were two major conflicts in the 20th century; the two World Wars that were started by Germany and were the result of the failure of the international community to deal with the country’s rise as a global power. He argues that upcoming powers inevitably cause convulsions within the established international status quo and that China’s rise was the perfect example of such a phenomenon in current times.
However, he warns that China’s ambition is not to accept the existing order, but to change it to its liking. As a consequence, the future becomes “tougher.” He drew a parallel to India, saying that no country is worried about its rise since India largely accepts the status quo of a liberal, democratic society, unlike the Chinese state, which believes in an authoritarian government.