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The great call of China: What matters is how Australia answers

Peter Barry writes: China is a powerful nation, assertive and convinced of its destiny (“What does ‘national interest’ mean when it comes to Labor’s China policy?”). It has had an easy ride in many ways, disguising its authoritarian essence sufficiently to be granted privileges as a developing nation and have its ruthless treatment of minorities and dissidents overlooked. 

Disrespect for patent rights, industrial espionage and coercive behaviour have been tolerated as the price for access to a huge market and a cheap labour force. China has found wolf-warrior diplomacy to be counterproductive — it is far better to have multiple channels of communication and at least a veneer of civility and respect than to have name-calling and simmering resentment. Things have been normalised under Labor. We should all benefit from that.

Kyle Wilson writes: Wanning Sun’s commentary for Crikey suggests she believes that the government’s public formulation of the principles underpinning its policy towards China, which she describes ironically as a “mantra”, is “not the same as an effective strategy”, and “certainly not the solution” to the “existential conundrum” of dealing with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under Xi Jinping.

This suggests, to this reader at least, that she may have an effective strategy, even perhaps a solution to the conundrum. If those assumptions are correct, let her share her policy advice with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, and indeed with those many of us who have grappled as best we could with the challenge of formulating policy advice on dealing with the PRC. We’d doubtless all be grateful, and in so doing she might well be serving the national interest.

Footnote: Wilson is a former counsellor at the Australian embassy in Beijing (1995-99), and director at the China political and bilateral section DFAT, (2000-03).

Henk Van Leeuwen writes: I refuse to be dictated by whether I feel safer or otherwise in relation to our changing relationship with China. Life is too short for such BS. It’s just good when people of different cultures and countries talk to each other rather than threaten annihilation.

Animal acts

John Peel writes: The live sheep export industry is beyond revolting, and of course it should be banned (“Live animal export is depraved and brutal. Its end can’t come quickly enough”). Unfortunately, the attention given to it has shielded the equally dreadful live cattle export industry from serious scrutiny.

Thanks to their size, the live cattle might survive those ghastly sea journeys a little better, but there is absolutely no effective Australian control over what happens to them when they reach their destinations. As witnessed and recorded several years ago, many were subjected to appalling cruelty in the slaughter process. There is no reason to believe anything has changed.

Farmers’ lobby groups have to pull their heads in and acknowledge home slaughtering, packaging and freezing is the only humane way to go — regardless of the cost.

Jo Vallentine writes: The farming community has had plenty of notice that this ban was coming but it’s acting like the fossil-fuel companies: doubters, deniers, delayers. Would that all governments had the guts to ban this barbaric trade outright, and immediately. As someone who grew up on a sheep farm, I am appalled that this cruelty continues. 

Dr Stuart Cairns writes: I’m not surprised that the Western Australian government dropped this case. It is the closest administration that we have in this country that is a borderline criminal organisation.

I will be surprised if the federal government closes this trade down. You only have to watch Agriculture Minister Murray Watt’s body language when he gets cornered on the issue. It’s not going to happen. Australian governments are elected by the people not to serve them but to serve vested interests — in this case, WA pastoralists.

Heather Cambridge writes: After campaigning for 45 years it is heartbreaking to see this evil go on and on. The suffering of millions of innocent creatures to satisfy the greed of farmers is hard to bear.

Business as usual

Bill Wallace writes: Re “Optus has had a horrific two weeks, but it still can’t hold a candle to Qantas”: first it has to be recognised that business looks after the interests of business. Second, there is no obligation on business to have any interest in improving the community in which it lives.

For generations, we the electorate have been fed the line that “what is good for business is good for the general community”. What a load of bunkum. History has shown this to be not true over the centuries.

We now pay the price for that. Firms that treat their customers with derision (e.g. Qantas, Coles, Woolworths, banks, etc); infrastructure systems that are essential but with no disaster contingencies (e.g. telecommunications, transport, fuel); firms that require the digital dexterity and interminable patience of “customers” to be able to talk to a person about an issue (practically all firms), etc, etc. So in general we the consumers are treated as disposable mugs.

The real problem has been the lack of politicians who understand the need for — and the willingness to undertake — the establishment of requirements and standards to do business in Australia.

Judy Hardy-Holden writes: My faith in the moral rectitude of big business remains unbounded. For instance, I love that a small envelope of papers took seven days to be delivered to Doonan from an address in Tewantin, a distance I can drive in 10 to 15 minutes at my usual little old lady speed. How good is the big business provider Australia Post?

I smile happily every time I think of the competence, probity and integrity of big business. Who needs rules when you have such competent boards in control?

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