China plays hardball (Updated)

Well, there is one thing you cannot say about the Chinese Government and that is they are not intimately involved in their nation’s economy.

On the back of a surprise rejection of Chinalco’s offer to buy a significant chunk of Rio Tinto, China has Australian Rio Tinto executives into “criminal custody” (i.e. they are not yet arrested, but they soon will be once they work out the charges). China is letting the world know that the executives are being charged with “prying & stealing” state secrets that “harm economic interests and security”.

Given China’s history of trumped up espionage charges for journalists and other businessmen, the world is somewhat skeptical of the claims being made against the men. The Australian Embassy is already pursuing consular access to the accused, which must be given by Saturday according to an agreement between China & Australia.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the Opposition to jump in with some “demands” for Kevin Rudd in how to handle the situation. Turnbull demanded Kevin Rudd “get on the phone immediately to the Chinese president and demand that the Australian citizen, Mr Stern Hu, be released and be given access to Australian consular officials. The Chinese government must release Mr Hu or charge him” Of course, charging in like bull in a china shop (no pun intended) is exactly how negotiations should proceed in a case like this. We all know that China responds very well to demands don’t we?

Rudd has, as expected, declined to act as rashly as Turnbull advocates. He is being supported by a few experts on the matter… not to mention plain old common sense. I expect we’ll be seeing this issue gain more prominence in the coming days as –

  1. It is effecting confidence in foreign companies involved with China as, at the line between what is a “state secret” and what is “business knowledge” is somewhat blurry when the government owns &/or controls many of the major corporations.
  2. Malcolm Turnbull seems to think this is an issue he can stir up some support in. As such, I expect we shall hear some more demand on Kevin to act like a drunken Texan with a shiny new hand-gun
  3. The deadline for consular access is within the next 48 hours. We’re most likely going to hear something about the executives’ condition from an official source. Unless a bomb goes off somewhere, this will be just in time for the Sunday papers.

I’m curious about other people’s opinion on the issue. Do we think this is trumped up charges because China has a case of sour grapes? Is Kevin Rudd doing enough to ensure justice is served in this case? What do people think this kind of behavior will do to foreign investment in China and, in turn, Australia’s economy?

Update: It would appear China is charging the executives with leaking the “bottom line” on the steel industry obtained through bribing Chinese executives. I would not be surprised if this is true, but from the article linked – it would seem to be a common-place occurence that China is trying to stamp out. The fact the leaking of “business secrets” has become an espionage / national security issue in China is the nation’s ownership of major companies affecting their economy. In Australia, this would most likely be a civil case.

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97 Responses

  1. The Han Chinese are grim, humourless, racist, greedy, aggressive people.

    Asked the Tibetans. Ask the Ugihurs. Everywhere they go, they take more than their fair share of money and natural resources and then try and force anyone protesting against their barbaric behaviour into submission.

    Is this the future we want for Australia?

  2. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t after a racism based attack. I have worked with quite a few Han Chinese and found them to be honest, hard-working, and quite friendly. So I disagree (strongly) with your assessment on the people as a whole.

    On the other hand, I have an issue with the authoritarian government and how it controls the Chinese people through censorship, intimidation, and isolation. I can accept criticism of a government easily – that’s made up of a small subset of individuals. I’m not a big fan of bagging out a race as a whole though.

  3. Alan and Ben,

    Very true – the people are very different from the government. I am not convinced that there really is a direct link between the Rio Tinto / Chinalco issue and the arrests. To me it seems to much of a risk for China – it would put too many countries off-side – but then again, can anyone risk missing the benefits of trade with China at the moment?

  4. That is similar to the direction of my thoughts, joni. China is the key to many recovering economies and this might be the thin edge of the large economic wedge China can wield.

    This is apparently a shock to the steel industry as they have been, to date, largely free of the intimidation other industries face when dealing in/with China. At the very least, any political action will be tempered by the economic reality of China’s ability to stall economic recovery world-wide. The response governments will have with China will be much different than if, say, an African country did the same thing.

  5. Umm, China have already told what they’re doing…prying and stealing. The question is, though: what did they think was worth stealing in among the personalised data-mining? I’m hoping it’s something exciting like Rio’s, and now BHP’s shared, robotic trucking tech, so there’s something safe to transport the debt bombshells in.

  6. Alan
    grim, humourless, racist, greedy, aggressive

    hmmm, also sounds like an apt description of an Australian executive.

    I think the Chinese would be extremely stupid to trump up charges against someone just because of sour grapes. They are far smarter than that.

    As an aside, I wonder if talcum is trying to outdo nelson’s lowest approval rating.

  7. I wonder whether there is any connection back to before the economic crisis, to the peak of the iron ore pricing, when Rio tried to hold a gun to China and extract an extra premium for their ore.
    Then there is always the possibility of bribery being involved somewhere. Rio may be big, but they do some awfully dumb things at times.

  8. Other things dredged up from vague memory to add to the rich tapestry of speculative cobwebs on the instant situation…a) negotiations with Rio included facility for Rio both to be bankrolled by special provision of centralised funds via a state-owned bank AND to be given unique access to mines and mining IN China as sweeteners for the now-failed deal; b) the recent announcement by China of the discovery of a game-changing ore body in China.

  9. And isn’t a bit rich for the opposition to ask, nay, demand that China either releases or charges the Aussie when they let David Hick remain in GITMO for so many years.

  10. Ahh, that’s the difference between khaki-collar and platinum-collar crime, Joni, now that we’re all conversant with the newspeak on the beat. Now the only problem is that their ‘cops’ are cowardly, yellow, thugs holding brave Australian eco(nomo)-warriors against the order of natural justice.

  11. (Oh, and guess who slipped in ‘economic security’ as the key plank of their War on Error rhetoric to back up their assertion of a global playing field in which to ‘protect their interests’; and surprise, that little tidbit is now available to all as a means to criminalise what is nearer to a civil matter. Blowback is a b*tch, even if it’s just words on a customary legal stage.)

  12. I haven’t the faintest idea what the Chinese government is up to.

    However the Chinese in general, do make really nice food.

  13. Oh, and the more I hear Malcolm Turnbull issuing demands for “immediate action” and how he is “appaulled” etc, the more he just reminds me of Joe Hockey and the late Alexandra Downer.

    Stupid, poncey, toffee-nosed git.

  14. It gives a fair indication of Malcolm’s observance of the Rule of Law, though. Week before last we were hanging a man by a billabong; this week arbitrary and capricious prejudice concerning an ongoing investigation by a foreign police service.

  15. The Chinese must have something very substantial against Stern Hu and the others for them to take the course of action they have, and the Chinese have bluntly stated they have hard evidence and for Australia not to politicise the issue.

    As stated on radio discussions last night and this morning, if the Chinese are wrong or don’t have any evidence that stands up to scrutiny they will lose massive face, which is not an option for Chinese leadership. Chinalco and Rio Tinto have nothing to do with it.

    So Turnbull, Joyce and the rest of the jump on the bandwagon without a clue mob, how about waiting until the legal part of this runs it course and do as the Chinese state, don’t play politics with it.

  16. The issue here Mobius, is that China regularly does trump up charges against those they deem dangerous, generally journalists & activists.

    That and Rio Tinto would have been privy to a great deal of information that is classified as a “state secret” due only to the nature of China’s ownership of certain major companies (such as Chinalco). What was perfectly reasonable activities & knowledge to obtain whilst Rio Tinto was exploring the partnership could, retroactively, become illegal.

    There are a great number of possibilities and China’s previous behaviour colours the issue politically, whether we like it or not.

  17. Mobius Ecko

    The domestic policitics of this are interesting. Rudd on AM this morning responded to Turnbull’s comments by not speculating on Chinese motives and simply saying that Turnbull’s judgement needs to be questioned given recent issues. I think judgement will become an increasing theme used by the Gov’t against Turnbull as it was by Howard against Latham.

    Turnbull and Joyce have rushed into this one making all sorts of accusations and demands; the former on the Government and the latter on just about everyone (I actually wonder whether Barnaby has a tin foil cap he wears when not in public). Unfortunately for Turnbull, his comments will be viewed as supporting those of Joyce, even though he hasn’t actually said the completely unsubstantiated, speculative and conspiracy theory things that Joyce has.

    Somehow I don’t think the Government will be heavily criticised by the voting public by taking a diplomatic approach to this and not showing any special favours. On the other hand, there are only downside risks for Turnbull in this (ie, I don’t think the irony of Turnbull asking the PM to intervene and give a Rio exec special favours here when only two weeks ago he was critical for the PM allegedly doing to same for a small business man in Ipswich has been lost on anyone).

  18. D55

    That’s what I thought last night too (giving favours).

  19. I think what we’ll see next is:

    Turnbull: “The Chinese President Hu Jintao must immediately justify his actions to the Australian people or resign!”

  20. Rudd is absolutely spot-on there. Turnbull has very poor judgement. It’s just sensationalistic stuff demanding that they release the Rio executive immediately. The only possible response to that by China is ‘get stuffed’ and even less cooperation in the future. Diplomacy is required.

  21. “Of course, it didn’t take long for the Opposition to jump in with some “demands” for Kevin Rudd in how to handle the situation.”
    “Rudd has, as expected, declined to act as rashly as Turnbull advocates.”

    It seems to me that there is an entirely legitimate view that suggests that the opposition and those interested in human rights have a responsibility to not show the same restraint as the government of the day.

    This perspective provides 2 messages internationally –

    • The government uses all diplomatic and traditional channels to support and resolve the rights of an Australian citizen.
    • While others, including the domestic political opposition, give voice to the deeply held, possibly legitimate concerns of large sections of the community.

    Perhaps someone (the author to this thread?) would detail exactly what is incorrect with this alternative view, to the silly political point scoring that is contained in several comments here.

  22. I have being keeping an eye on China’s stockpiling of resources.

    We have to tread carefully as China holds all the cards.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601009&sid=a5yhtDZx75kw

  23. “It seems to me that there is an entirely legitimate view that suggests that the opposition and those interested in human rights have a responsibility to not show the same restraint as the government of the day.”

    I think you have a point there Tom.

  24. Clearly, what all you lefties are forgetting in the midst of all this is that Malcolm Turnbull already thinks he is “Emperor of Australia” already.

    “Release him!” he demands from the podium.

    “What?! Why are my orders not being obeyed!!”

    “Guards! Replace these guards with new Centurians who understand that my word is law around these parts..!!”

  25. Yes Tom of Melbourne, but don’t these also want to be the government of tomorrow

    They need to show us what they would do, and this rash action is certainly not a diplomatic course.

    Even worse coming from the same party who fully supported another country holding one of our citizens for 5 years without charge.

  26. Tom

    Perhaps someone (the author to this thread?) would detail exactly what is incorrect with this alternative view, to the silly political point scoring that is contained in several comments here

    .

    I have no problem with them saying it – I just think the way they are doing it isn’t all that politically astute. I also think that it is a bit of a stretch to characterise Turnbull’s and Joyce’s comments as being a criticism of China’s HR record. I don’t think any of us on this thread have defended the Chinese Government’s general approach to HR.

    As someone pointed out above, there is also the hypocrisy of the Opposition’s calls for charges to be laid here or the Rio execs released, and the treatment of David Hicks and other detainees at Gitmo.

  27. What do some on here say about the party in opposition that said they would take Japan to the International Court of Justice over the whaling issue? What are they doing now in government?

    What about the party in opposition who said they would take real action to ‘tackle dangerous climate change’? What are they doing now in government? They are squibbing the issue.

    What about the party in opposition that said they would tear up all AWAs? What have they done now in government?

    What about the party in opposition that said they would be a voice for consumers and lower grocery prices? What are they doing now in government?

    My point is that both major parties behave very differently in opposition than they do in government. And It is a fact that opposition is a different role to government.

  28. Dave, as we know, we can only speculate about what people think, but we can observe what they do. I have no idea what Turnbull is thinking. Do you?

    I have simply provided an alternative perspective to the trite commentary about the consequences of daily political activity that is contained in the lead to this thread.

  29. Tom R, opposition is not just about outlining what would happen in government. There is a legitimate role for testing alternatives, rigorously reviewing any government policy or positions.

    This is why political parties, this one included, behave differently in government.

    But back to the key point. What exactly is wrong with the perspective I advanced?

  30. Simple

    It is dangerous and would strain our relationship with a foreign country.

    There are reasons there are diplomatic channels

    turnbull appears to have forgotten this

    nothing wrong with with advancing alternative views (or keeping the bastards honest), just help if they were grounded in reason.

  31. The PM is rightly taking the measured approach.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/07/10/2622168.htm

    My money is on the Foreign Minister quietly working behind the scenes…as he should.

  32. Tom,

    I have no idea what Turnbull is thinking, but I didn’t speculate on it either – I am commenting on what he has said and how that comes accross. Besides, I am sure Turnbull has thought about why he is saying stuff but I’m also certain that he can rationalise to himself a complete 180 on those reasons. The problem is, none of us think it makes much sense when it happens.

    As for the alternate perspective, do you really think that Turnbull and Barnaby are condeming China’s human rights record with the comments. Get your hand off it – Turnbull’s comments are purely politically motivated. I have no idea what motivates Barnaby to say the things he does – i’m sure the rest of his party and the Libs are equally confused.

  33. B.Tolputt, on July 10th, 2009 at 10:47 am

    True China has trumped up charges in the past but not against senior foreign executives of a major company.

    There was a good discussion on ABC radio last night with Chinese experts, one who was Chinese and another (American I think) who lives in China and has for a long time. They came to the conclusion that the Chinese authorities must have something substantial or they would not be taking the stance they have. It would be too damaging to the Chinese government if they were found out to be trumping charges in this case.

    The Rio execs were arrested by a law enforcement agency specialising in corporate espionage (can’t remember their title) and they presented evidence and laid charges that the execs had stolen sensitive Chinese business information. According to the speaker last night that law agency would have gone to the government before making any moves and for the government to say go ahead arrest them in all likelihood means the evidence presented is substantial and will bear up to foreign scrutiny.

  34. Tom of Melbourne, on July 10th, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Tom, agreed.
    I was about to make the same point but fortunately read your post first.
    Yes, both parties have a role to play and they are fulfilling them correctly.

  35. Well Tom, as others have pointed out, there are two main reasons why the Opposition should be more restrained than they are (if not necessarily more restrained than the government).

    Firstly, regardless of who is the leading party, flat out demanding a country with the power China (especially compared to our lack of said power) has to acquiesce to our demands is only able to escalate the tension. Right now, China holds all the cards. Remember, diplomacy is the art of saying “nice doggy” whilst looking for a large rock.

    That is not to say that I think China is 100% in the clear on detaining these executives, but we really don’t know anything aside from the fact they’ve been detained and the charges to be laid relate to espionage & stealing of “state secrets”. Now is the time to make sure that the executives have consular access and to be asking questions of China in regards to the proof. It is possible that these executives were using their position to leak information regarding China’s steel industry outside the bounds their jobs would otherwise allow.

    Secondly, the Opposition are claiming to be the alternative government Australia should have. As such, their actions should reflect to some degree the government they would make should they be given the go ahead by the Australian public. I’m sure there is a (large?) contingent of people that love the idea of our government ripping into China on the smallest of excuses. Are they the majority of Australians? I don’t know, but I hope not. I’d like to think that we are not quite that xenophobic / racist.

    Finally, trying to group the Opposition in with human rights activists is pretty rich given their actions with David Hicks. That, and I haven’t seen anything from Turnbull yet that even approaches a statement regarding human rights in this case. It was all bravado and demands.

  36. And here is what the former PM said about interfering with another country laws:

    Some people have not allowed for the fact that if a foreigner were tried in an Australian court, we would deeply resent the leadership of that person’s country of origin, seeking to interfere in our legal system. It’s a well-settled doctrine of international law that if you go to another country and you are alleged to have committed an offence, you are tried according to the laws of that country and that applies both ways.

    And I agree with him.

  37. So Tolputt, Turnbull suggests that China is wrong to detail an Australian citizen without charge, and without consular access. He suggests that the government make representations to the Chinese government about this.

    So far, this doesn’t seem particularly unreasonable. Particularly in the context I provided in my 11.07 comment.

    But rather than focus on the need to have different groups in the community expressing a divergence of approach about this, with the government taking the restrained approach, you are suggesting that all political groups adopt the restrained approach.

    This makes no sense, and your comment does not explain this away.

  38. detain

  39. I assume that Tom of Melbourne is aware that similar provisions apply in Australia, including incommunicado detention and compulsions to answer, and Malcolm seems rather quiet about those, given he was there when those provisions were drafted by the then Government of the day. Britain has them, too. They occassionally turn up the news when there are quibbles about how many weeks. And, of course, the good ol’ US of A. Strangely, those provisions were the ones most likely to have been applicable to Haneef last year, unless someone wanted a big show at the time.

  40. last year Oops, timewarp, the year before last…and they’re the ASIO powers, not the CC and the AFP’s.

  41. B.Tolputt, on July 10th, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Ben, the role of being in government, and that of being in opposition, are just that, roles.
    Personalities are secondary to that, and whilst they may bring their own interpretation to whatever role they happen to be playing at any given time, we do not expect the villain to still play the role of the villain when he assumes the cloak of the hero.
    The comments of the opposition in this particular case, are in effect giving strength to the diplomacy being pursued by the government, playing the part of your “big rock” if you like.

  42. Once again. Can someone explain exactly what the problem is with sending 2 messages? One restrained diplomacy, the other more hard edged from community and opposition political groups.

    This approach is hardly unusual in international relations and in making international representations. It is entirely common in most other business and political disciplines.

    I don’t see what the fuss is about. The response is simply an effort to identify unnecessary and low level political criticism.

    Hardly surprising, I realise.

  43. Actually, the laws of China allow for them to detain people based on a reasonable suspicion prior to actually charging them. And prior to Turnbull’s outburst – consular access was agreed upon (through the standard diplomatic channels) for the executives today. The agreement with China is that they get said access before Saturday.

    In other words, China has been (at least as far as public information is concerned) acting completely within the bounds of their law and the agreements between Australia & China.

    What Turnbull actually did, and I quoted him, is demand Rudd get on the phonoe to the Chinese President make the demand the executive be released or charged. As has been mentioned, Rudd getting involved politicises the issue at the uppermost levels and can only serve to increase the tension, not decrease it.

    And don’t twist my statements to be about a complete lack of divergence in opinion. Turnbull is an elected representative and a possible future Prime Minister. Should he be elected, his actions today could have serious (negative) ramifications on the relationship between Australia & China. Provided he believes he has a shot, it would be in Australia’s best interests for him to shut up & let the diplomatic corp (which taxpayers fund with millions of dollars a year) do the job they were hired to.

    I have no problems with the general citizenry expressing their diverse opinions on the issue (notice I asked for such in my post). I just think that the government (& possible future leader of said government) should keep out of the process until more information is known.

    If you disagree with this – please let us know what your definition of diplomacy is. It might enlighten us as to why you think making demands of China with a bare minimum of facts at hand is a good idea. Remember, they have followed their law & our agreements (so far) to the letter.

  44. “please let us know what your definition of diplomacy is”

    Please see my comment above.

  45. And others might agree that a united country with both paries concurring on a course of action would exert more influence

    I am sure the Chinese are shaking in their boots cos uteman is firing off blanks again

  46. Thanks, I have since read it. You will notice we posted at the same time.

    I disagree with you on two issues. One is that Turnbull didn’t demand that China release the executive, he demanded that Rudd make the demand at the highest possible level before facts were known. This is playing domestic politics with an international diplomatic issue, not expressing a different message. Had Turnbull made the demand of China’s president himself – I would not have as much condemnation of his actions. Remember China has, to date, acted completely within their laws and our agreements with them.

    Second, if some of the voting public were to have their way, Turnbull would be Prime Minister in about a year. China is very likely to remember such a demand from Turnbull & it is not outside the realms of plausibility that such an action would hurt our relationship with China – our second largest export destination. You will note I did not take issue with Barnaby Joyce.

  47. “At the end of last year, Rio Tinto signed a 10-year contract with Jiangxi’s Ping Xiang Iron & Steel Co Ltd, with Stern Hu as Rio Tinto’s representative.

    Hu also signed similar agreements with small- and medium-sized steelmakers in Shanxi and Hebei.

    The China Iron and Steel Association was strongly against such agreements because they said the contracts would influence the iron ore price negotiations.

    In China, steel makers are banned from signing long-term iron ore supply contracts with foreign suppliers such as Rio Tinto without permission.”

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-07/10/content_8405768.htm

    I can’t find any mention of Turnbull in the Chinese papers as of yet.

  48. You wouldn’t, scaper. The Chinese media is very strongly controlled by the government. It does not suit the image the government wishes to portray of itself to be repeating the demands of an opposition leader in a country most don’t even think about.

    The government itself will keep track, but the people don’t need to know about it and so they won’t.

  49. B.Tolputt, on July 10th, 2009 at 12:50 pm Said:
    “What Turnbull actually did, and I quoted him, is demand Rudd get on the phonoe to the Chinese President”

    Ben, exactly, Turnball is making demands on our government, not on the Chinese government.

    I doubt the Chinese government is paying too much attention to our opposition leader, it’s difficult enough for our elected leaders to make themselves relevant at the best of times.

  50. johnd, on July 10th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    What a very strange and disjointed analogy. It’s all just roll playing and the opposition are supposed to role play the part of a villain and the government the hero, which is then swapped around when the opposition become government and the government loses power.

    Sorry John the “role play” of villain can have very negative international consequences for not only the government but the country, and why should they play villain, surely they can just as easily play heroes and add something constructive instead of always attempting to tear it down?

    Then your last statement is almost laughable. The opposition by playing bad cop or villain and demanding a country circumvent its own laws, with the potential of causing a diplomatic incident, does not add strength to the diplomacy at all. It tears at it and weakens the government’s behind the scenes diplomatic efforts.

  51. I think I’ve found something on Turnbull.

    “Bull turns on self and eats own testicles.”

    Read more here: http://www.bjd.com.cn/

  52. I doubt the Chinese government is paying too much attention to our opposition leader, it’s difficult enough for our elected leaders to make themselves relevant at the best of times.

    You do realise that Australia keeps a dossier on foreign representatives in countries we are interested in, right? China most definitely does the same (I mean, it’s standard practice in diplomatic circles). The Chinese government would not only have notes on this incident, but notes on the Ute-gate one as well (god I hate that term… Only Australia could come up with a scandal called “Ute-gate”).

  53. Mobius Ecko, on July 10th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Thats right Adrian, the government plays the role of the government and sets the policies, and with our somewhat imperfect two party system, the opposition holds them to account.
    For Australia there are not two completely divergent paths we could travel to maintain our place in the global economic pecking order. Whoever is in power can’t choose a completely different road, but merely tweaks and makes minor adjustments to the navigation. The government and opposition are merely pilot and co-pilot.

  54. Tolputt – And as I’ve suggested, there is an entirely legitimate alternative view that you simply decline to acknowledge.

    As I and others have pointed out several times, an opposition does not merely have to act as the alternative government.

    They have a responsibility to test, rigorously review, and provide alternatives to the prevailing approach.

    International relations very often require 2 messages to gain movement and acknowledgement. Haven’t you noticed that both pressure and calm diplomacy is generally combined to cause some movement?

    Stop just insisting on a narrow political view and acknowledge the legitimacy of an alternative proposition.

  55. B.Tolputt, on July 10th, 2009 at 1:19 pm Said:
    “China most definitely does the same ”

    Ben, undoubtedly, and leaders of most countries are also aware of the role that any other government leader plays and able to distinguish that from others in the background.

  56. johnd

    and while the pilot is busy flying safely and carefully, the co-pilot is jumping up and down shouting “shoot that, no, shoot that”

    lol

    (sorry, your analogy gave me strange images)

  57. Tom R, on July 10th, 2009 at 1:35 pm Said:

    I was think more along the lines of the co-pilot shouting, “put the @#$% wheels down”

  58. johnd

    lol

    that works for me too 🙂

  59. OK, let’s take this step by step for you, Tom.

    And as I’ve suggested, there is an entirely legitimate alternative view that you simply decline to acknowledge.

    I decline to acknowledge it as legitimate because I don’t find it to be so.

    As I and others have pointed out several times, an opposition does not merely have to act as the alternative government.

    Agreed, they don’t need to act that way… but I believe it to be in Australia’s best interests if they do. They can remain in Opposition in perpetuity if they like, but until they act like a reasonable alternative – they’ll be stuck there.

    Look at NSW. Labor should have been turfed years ago, but the Opposition acts out like you seem to think is legitimate for Turnbull to do and it has left this State with the worst bunch of rabble I can ever recall in Australian leadership (yes, worse than Howard’s team).

    They have a responsibility to test, rigorously review, and provide alternatives to the prevailing approach.

    I would amend that to read:
    They have a responsibility to test, rigorously review, and provide sensible alternatives to the prevailing approach.
    Turnbull’s demands were not sensible.

    International relations very often require 2 messages to gain movement and acknowledgement. Haven’t you noticed that both pressure and calm diplomacy is generally combined to cause some movement?

    Of course I have. I’ve also noticed that you tend to get the best result if you don’t make demands unless required to do so. Better relationship (personal & international) are strengthened by mutual respect. Up until now, there has been no evidence of disrespect for Australia’s position in this situation by China. There has been such disrespect from Turnbull.

    Stop just insisting on a narrow political view and acknowledge the legitimacy of an alternative proposition.

    Like Rudd, I don’t need to listen to demands when they are made from a faulty premise.

  60. So you reject my original proposition that –
    “This perspective provides 2 messages internationally –
    • The government uses all diplomatic and traditional channels to support and resolve the rights of an Australian citizen.
    • While others, including the domestic political opposition, give voice to the deeply held, possibly legitimate concerns of large sections of the community.”
    I suppose this only demonstrates the blinkered approach to discussion you bring to most issues.

  61. No, I reject your insinuation that Turnbull was “giving voice to the deeply held, possibly legitimate concerns of large sections of the community.”

    I believe his actions to be an attempt at deriving a possible gain in domestic politics at the expense of present & future relations with China.

    If you refuse to address the fallacies &/or counter-arguments in your proposisiton – why should I acknowledge it in totality as you are pressing for me to do?

  62. As I’ve indicated above, we can’t observe what people think. We can only observe what they do.

    My proposition is entirely legitimate in this context, you choose to reject it as a consequence of your own speculation. Hardly surprising, nothing unusual there.

  63. For example, I personally believe Barnaby Joyce fits your definition of the counter-point to the government. You will note his demands from the government were much more reasonable.

  64. Not just reject, but refuse to acknowledge any legitimacy.

  65. Well, we can disagree on the legitimacy of your point of view. That you cannot accept partial agreement and refuse to acknowledge any counter-point to your view is hardly surprising nor unusual either.

  66. I’ve not noticed any partial acknowledgement. I posted a proposition. It was reasonable, logical and balanced.

    You provided a blanket rejection, as always.

  67. I’ve not noticed any partial acknowledgement.

    Well, that would be because you are actively ignoring it.

  68. Actually Tom, you put forward two reasonable points, neither of which Turnbull was pursuing

    Therein lies the crux of the rejections that you are now facing.

  69. Actually

    Ben: Fixed 🙂

  70. Thanks Ben

    Its not easy being a keyboard dyslexic

  71. Tolputt- Importantly, I’ve been careful to advance what I called “a legitimate alternative proposition” or similar. Not necessarily my own opinion.

    I did this because I actually had not even crystallized my own views. However, you have simply chosen to reject the legitimacy of this legitimate alternative proposition..

    As far as I can see, this is the attitude you routinely and regularly bring to discussion here.

  72. Tom,
    I couldn’t care less if the proposal was yours, reb’s, or the Mother Teresa’s. I call things as I see them, and I saw a couple of problems with the proposal as presented.

    Your need to harp on about, not the proposal itself, but my “attitude” shows that you are simply looking for a fight. Again.

  73. As far as I can make out, you disagree for the sake of it.

    Routine mindless blocking.

  74. Adn my point is proven. You are not interested in the proposal or my counter-points which would make it into something I agree with. You refuse to acknowledge them or my partial agreement.

    You are, again, talking about my attitude – which has nothing to do with the topic.

  75. Tom – I think you are deliberately picking a fight because this is Ben’s thread – and that you are not being constructive.

  76. Joni, That may be your opinion.

    I think what you are describing is a characteristic that I’ve observed in Tolputt’s behaviour on a number of occasions.

    So far I haven’t observed you pulling him up on this behaviour. You’re welcome to correct me, and identify those occasion that you have exercised your moderator role with him.

  77. If you do not like my moderation then feel free to leave.

  78. I think consistency is warranted. Don’t you?

  79. Popcorn anyone? Popcorn..?

  80. If consistency was something you really wanted – you wouldn’t have derailed this thread. You, after all, complain that I do that.

    It is obvious you are trolling and if reb wants this blog to devolve into something approaching Gutter Trash – there is nothing I can do to stop it.

  81. I don’t believe I have derailed this thread. I have only pressed you for acknowledgment of a legitimate alternative view.

    This was reasonable, and the posts I made were entirely in accordance with the subject, and merely pointed to what I considered deficiencies in your own lead.

    You didn’t accept the legitimacy of the alternative I advanced. There is no obligation for you to do so. However, if I believe that you are obstructively declining to make this acknowledgment, then I also believe that I am entitled to point this out, press and test. You (and Joni) should accept this.

    Joni has intervened in your favour on numerous other occasions, inconsistently in my view. He has terminated my access to this site previously. And incidentally thereby preventing you from providing the belated clarification of the confused post you made about balance of evidence. Whether or not this was what you intended at the time can no longer be established, thanks Joni.

  82. Hey, I can’t control what people say around here..

    I’m just selling popcorn.

    As far as moderating comments goes, Joni and I are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

    No wonder Kamahl’s pissed back off to Sri Lanka…

  83. Bullshit Tom.

    Your last few posts before Joni spoke up were about my attitude & nothing else. You also obviously looking for a fight with me because you were calling for me specifically to answer you. Since I replied, you have left off replying to most posts directed at you in this thread.

    It might surprise you, but if a moderator intervenes on someone’s behalf and against you, it might be because you are being a dick. I doubt you can accept that, but it is a reasonable assumption to make.

    If you really had a problem with my attitude and were not looking for a fight, you wouldn’t have called for me to answer you. A simpleton can see that.

  84. And reb, with all due respect, you can control what people say. You may not like moderating, but that is the method in which you would keep control.

    Frankly I feel that the lack of moderation is being abused by those who now know they can get away with anything. Like Communism, it’s a nice idea but it doesn’t work in practice.

  85. So I press a point, because you decline to accept the legitimacy of an alternative view, and I’m being unreasonable? Now that is funny.

  86. No. Because you press a point, someone disagrees with you, then you make personal attacks on that person’s attitude – you are being unreasonable.

    Had you left it at a disagreement alone, none of this would be happening. But it is obvious you can’t help or don’t want to stop trolling.

  87. Time out please.

  88. What about a weekend thread?

  89. Good idea scaper..

    Tom, I’m now moderating your comments because you’re just being argumentative and you know it.

    Note: this does not mean you have been banned.

    Also note: This is based on the recommendation of several others.

    When you can behave like normal we might let you have unfettered access again.

  90. Now,

    Can we get the discussion back to the original topic of Ben’s post??

    Thanks..

    🙂

  91. Thanks reb. 🙂

  92. Not just yet, Reb, but feel to moderate it if you feel the need…

    B.Tolputt, on July 10th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Agreed.

    Tom of Melbourne, on July 10th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Denied. Your opinion is legitimate AND so is BT’s, or vice versa. It’s not an either/or sityation; despite the false dichotomy you set out to create by demanding someone prove you ‘wrong’ or suffer the ignomy of loss of legitimacy in a fools’ folie a deux by engaging in a futile, Sysyphean task.

    Or, to put the apparent thing in the shorter vernacular, “Come and beat me. Ha ha, you can’t because you aren’t me, and can never, ever prove me wrong to me, so I’ve already won. I am such a winner. Yeah.”

    More of the good ideas and legitimate opinions, please, especially where those cover unexplored or alternative terrains, and less setting of the cunning ‘traps’ for the not so unwary. Perhaps.

  93. “Do we think this is trumped up charges because China has a case of sour grapes? Is Kevin Rudd doing enough to ensure justice is served in this case? What do people think this kind of behavior will do to foreign investment in China and, in turn, Australia’s economy?”

    It appears the charges involve bribery and I suspect the Chinese companies that were complicit will possibly be forfeited by the State.

    I believe the PM should stay clear on this and allow the relevant people to look after the situation but that assistance will be limited, opposed to what Turnbull is demanding.

    I don’t believe there will not be a fallback in foreign investment, people will have to realise that they have to play by the rules which is expected, no matter what country they are dealing in.

    The way I see it, there is mutual need to do business with China but the stockpiling is of some concern, on the face of it, it appears that China is putting their US dollars into the stockpile rather than taking a risk with the currency.

    Can they see some eventuality that we don’t?

  94. From what I heard, there is already a team of Government diplomats on their way, so why Talculm is insisting that the PM get personally involved is beyond me.

    Just more grandstanding I suspect.

  95. Just more grandstanding I suspect.

    Turnbull? Grandstanding!? Say it isn’t so! 😛

    I thought Rudd handled his response to Turnbull quite well. Then again, he did come from a diplomatic background involved with Chinese affairs – this stuff is probably second nature to him.

  96. When will the opposition ever learn at what point to stop pushing a point?

    Yesterday after the diplomatic effort for Hu was announced as much as could be revealed without compromising the negotiations, Turnbull was calling for Rudd to get involved in a diplomatic effort at the highest levels.

    Today it was Julie Bishop’s turn where after it was announced that the diplomatic talks are going on and Smith has seen Hu, Julie said the consular level effort was not good enough and Rudd must immediately make remonstrations to the highest levels of the Chinese government.

    Stupid thing about this opposition attack (as stupid as nearly all their attacks on the government) is that if the opposition were in government they would be doing nothing different, and the people know it, so why pretend they would and make unrealistic demands of the government they would never undertake themselves?

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