Local larrikin Corey White returns to FRINGE WORLD in 2020 with his new show exploring Australia’s place in a complex world, where China is rising and the West is declining. Just China Make It is a refreshing, hilarious and informative take on Straya’s future in the Asian century, served with zingers and Xi Jinpingas at The Craft Beer and Cider Garden on Thursday, January 30 and The Board Room at The Vic Hotel on Friday, January 31 and Saturday, February 1. Here the Perth comedian is trying to find answers to some major questions, like how can we reconcile our history with our geography? Can Yum Cha and Coca Cola peacefully coexist? Which hyper-capitalist police state is the best? And so much more…
“Australia should not resort to a Cold War mentality” is the favourite line trotted out by CCP diplomats. Then for the PRC’s 70th birthday celebrations, Tiananmen Square was paraded with nuclear missiles and the latest in military technology, which in this Laowai’s view, is pretty Cold War.
The return of China to great power status has been tectonic and the numbers are staggering. China adds to their economy the equivalent of another Australia every two years. They have laid 20,000km of high-speed rail while it has taken us five years to redevelop Scarborough beach. Bloody unions!
There are, however, some disconcerting aspects about the rise of China and, regrettably, comparisons with Germany are increasingly germane. A totalitarian power with a sense of historical grievance, the annexation of Austria South China Sea, concentration camps, vocational training centres in Xinjiang, based around one, lifetime leader who apparently looks like Winnie the Pooh. As Mark Twain quipped, “History doesn’t repeat, but it does tend to rhyme.”
Now I do not want anyone to conflate my criticism and fear of the CCP with Chinese people. I have a deep respect for Chinese people, their culture and philosophy. 4000 years of history gives you a sense of humility about your own civilizational depth. Despite this, I am sure to be labelled a racist by either a woke white muppet sponsored by Woodside or heckled by a patriotic Chinese student trotting out Beijingoism to increase his social credit rating With the exception of white people, I am not racist. In fact, some of my best friends are from Hong Kong… and they are terrified of the CCP too.
Now with the decline of Rome in a 24-hour news cycle broadcasting Uncle Sam’s descent to the palliative care of empire, how does Australia navigate this new strategic landscape? Can we rely on our ‘Great and powerful friend’ only to find ourselves in the same predicament as 1941? My distant cousin Professor Hugh White recently published a book titled How to Defend Australia. Had he consulted me before publication, the book could have been funnier.
Australia would have difficulty defending itself against anyone alone. But as Sun Tzu says, the art of war is to avoid the battle. And to fight in the spectrum of non-violence requires a different kind of power because there are two forms of power. There is the hard power of coercion and the soft power of co-option. Soft power is the ability to appeal and attract, to persuade rather than punish. The currency of soft power is the attractiveness of your culture, values and policy.
And we are losing the soft power battle to China. In East Timor, Bougainville, Fiji and Vanuatu. Which is like losing a test series to Bangladesh. If they lost all their best players.
From our unconscionable belligerence on climate change, our reprehensible spying on East Timor to help Woodside, our conduct in the Pacific, our abandonment of Julian Assange, to our treatment of refugees, Australia is increasingly resembling the Asia-Pacific neighbours from hell on Today Tonight.
We need to have a look in the mirror as a nation and be honest about who we are and what we want to be. To do this requires an appreciation of the station we find ourselves at in history and implement some very broad-based and intelligent reform… Which is difficult because Australians don’t like to talk about reform… so let’s frame it in a way they like. Renovation. We’ll have to throw some things out, embrace the original décor and make it sustainable. And if we have to steal a few things from Bunnings along the way, then so be it. I’m willing to act pro bono for you.