Free trade with Communist China is a little like a desire for a fair fight with Mike Tyson. You want the benefits but ultimately you know that when the chips are down the brute will be perfectly willing to spit out his mouth-guard and bite your ear clean off.
We believe in freedom and think there should be no reason for there to be lots of trade with China, but pretending that there could such a thing as free trade with that repressive regime is fantasy. Cutting their government slack based on dodgy promises from its despicable regime seems decidedly unwise.
There are fortunes – billionaires like Sol Lew’s for example – being made by people who do nothing more than commission cheap goods to be sold here by outsourced factories, import them here in container ship and sell them at mark-ups of 10000% or more. They can pay 50 cents for an item, ship it here, send it out to shops and sell that sucker for $29.99. Sweet. And little wonder Lew Looter drives around in a million-dollar Maybach. He gets mark-ups that would get the late smack smuggler Terry Clark jealous.
A BLOW TO FREE TRADE
The above pictured unfortunate blow-up Wolverine punching bag is one of the many goods produced in China for our benefit.
The kind of free trade China at a government level wants is where its manufacturers are free to sell their goods to import middle-men like Lew – with the benefit of their artificially low currency keeping their prices low – while Australian farmers are restricted in every conceivable way from exporting there by regulations, non-regulatory impediments and every conceivable amount of communist trickery.
They then want to be able to take the profits from their massive export drive and use them for the Chinese government to buy control of Australian mining companies.
It is appropriate for all Australians to question why they feel the need to buy control of significant resources in this country when our miners are perfectly willing to sell these resources to them at market prices when required.
Free trade and all that flows from it is very important and well worth fighting for, but it’s only worth pursuing bilateral free trade agreements with free nations who will comply with deals and not try to have it both ways.
Dragging China out of the morass of its Cultural Revolution is a worthy objective for all freedom fighters. But it’s a unique challenge to deal with the Beijing regime now. It is committed to capitalism – of a sort – but not to freedom. And for us this is like having chicken noodle soup without the noodles. It might taste the same but it’s ultimately unsatisfying.
The inevitable historical consequence of rising prosperity of the kind China has experienced is that a growing middle class will demand rights and freedoms they are currently denied.
For moral reasons and to help us position ourselves for the future when we will need to build relations with a democratically elected Chinese government, we ought to be tying free trade outcomes to the freedoms allowed the people of that country.
For all the progress made in that incredibly exciting place, it is still not free. None other than the most foolhardy foreign investor regards China as a safe place where the likelihood is they won’t be ripped off with someone with better contacts in government than a dumb foreigner.
It is a nation where the body parts of the recently executed are sold to health tourists. Where a bill for the bullet is sent to the condemned person’s parents. Where its government has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to kill in order to remain in control.
With Mandarin speaking Chinese expert Kevin Rudd at its lead, our own government couldn’t be better placed to cut a good deal with China. But if a good deal isn’t seriously offered by a regime renowned for its bellicose sneakiness then we ought not do one at all.