Alex Lo
SCMP Columnist
My Take
by Alex Lo
My Take
by Alex Lo

Surveys show gullibility of Australians over China

  • The Australia Institute argues for a reset of relations, but Canberra has already decided to take the side of Uncle Sam, whose global hegemony is not open to debate among ordinary voters in the Anglo-American sphere

As it turns out, Taiwanese take a far more realistic view of the prospect of an invasion by mainland China, compared to Australians, many of whom also think Beijing wants to invade down under as well.

Those are some of the results of a survey conducted by the Canberra-based Australia Institute under its international and security affairs programme. The results would have been laughable if it were not so dangerous with all that war talk coming out of Australia.

Two surveys were conducted this month involving 1,003 adults living in Australia, and 1,002 in Taiwan. More Australians think China will invade Australia “soon” than there are Taiwanese who think mainland China will invade Taiwan “soon”. Oh dear!

Almost one in four Australians think China will attack Taiwan soon, while just one in 20 Taiwanese think the mainland will attack the island soon. And nearly one in 10 Australians think China will attack Australia soon, while just one in 20 Taiwanese think China will attack Australia soon.

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Roughly the same numbers of people – 68 per cent in Taiwan and 70 per cent in Australia – agree that Taiwan should become independent if it can maintain peaceful relations with the mainland.

However, Taiwanese are divided – 44 per cent agree, 40 per cent disagree – about whether their island should declare independence even if Beijing decides to attack as a consequence. By contrast, most Australians (63 per cent) agree Taiwan should declare independence regardless of the consequence as opposed to 11 per cent who disagree.

Of course, since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February, Western pundits and politicians have been claiming mainland China will follow suit and invade Taiwan. All that is, of course, Western war propaganda. And Taiwanese know it. This doesn’t stop their leaders playing to the hysterical Western chorus, culminating with the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island.

But despite an all-out military drill by the mainland, Taiwanese people know what’s what – rather unlike their far more gullible and uninformed Australian “friends”.

Allan Behm, director of the international and security affairs programme, gives a rather succinct view of the survey results.

“The more that the anti-China lobby beats the drums of war, the more afraid of China Australians become,” he said. “It is astonishing that Australians are more afraid of an attack from China than the Taiwanese are … The results show popular opinion is detached from geopolitical and geostrategic reality.”

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Behm draws the only sensible conclusion, that is, the need for a reset of China-Australia relations.

“The rhetoric on China and the fearmongering on the risk of war has had an impact on public opinion,” he said. “The results support the case for a reset in the Australia-China relationship and the manner in which we hold this important national conversation. Such a reset should be based on facts and the national interest rather than the fear-peddling we saw in the recent Australian federal election by some for domestic, partisan interests.”

Eminently sensible, which is exactly why it wouldn’t happen.

The problem is that the United States has already decided that it’s now or never to take on China, even if it means war; and its Western allies are either with America or against it. Australia has already decided which side it will take, at whatever the costs.

When it comes to maintaining the global hegemony of the US and its worldwide alliance system, the electorates – ordinary voters, especially those in the so-called Anglo-American sphere – have very little say in the matter. It has already been decided for them. All that really matters is for the “independent” mainstream media to whip up the anti-China hysterics and warmongering to make sure public opinion swings in the right direction. The latest surveys show exactly that.