There are three big challenges we face right now - or three “C’s” - COVID, Climate Change and China.
We will get on top of Covid eventually even though it could be with us forever thanks to the Chinese Communist Party.
The latest lockdowns seem a costly and futile attempt to eradicate the virus. Given the continuing spread of the Delta strain, even in countries with high vaccination rates, eradicating Covid is not realistic in the long term.
The virus Made in China will be defeated by the vaccines Made in America and the UK.
Vaccine supply has been slower than expected thanks to border controls and the clotting issues with AstraZeneca. But 4.5 million Pfizer doses are due to arrive in Australia this month and by the end of the year there should be sufficient supply for all Australians.
Climate change is a long term problem requiring global cooperation to fix. There is no point reducing our emissions, and putting Australians out of work, even if we can’t trust other countries to reduce their emissions.
Which brings me to the other “C” of China. Last year, China announced that it plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
In the same year they installed 38.4 gigawatts of new coal fired power - double Australia’s capacity. Listen to what people do, not what they say.
China already accounts for one third of the world’s emissions.
If the rest of the world reduce their emissions, this will only help China to steal more industrial capacity and jobs, and probably increase global emissions in the process. There is no doubt that China will take advantage of the west’s naivety just as they have done over the past two decades.
Twenty years ago, we let China join the World Trade Organisation. We hoped that greater trade would encourage China to open their economy and liberalise their politics. We were wrong.
Instead, the Chinese Communist Party has taken an inch and run a mile. China still refuses to comply with their WTO obligations to publish the assistance they provide to industry. Some estimates say that 80 per cent of the profits of Chinese steel firms come from government subsidies. Last year, China produced almost 60 per cent of the world’s steel.
There is no reason to think China would be any more compliant with an international climate agreement. China won’t let health inspectors work out the origins of a virus but they do have two spy ships off the Central Queensland Coast listening in on the Australia-US-Japan training exercises at Shoalwater Bay.
The imminent threat to our children’s prosperity and freedom comes from an aggressive China not climate change. China now threatens the territorial integrity of its neighbours and it does so from a position of industrial strength.
In the face of China’s aggression and blatant breaches of international law, what should Australia do? We should be restoring our industrial strength. There are only so many things a country can do at once. A massive effort to reach net zero carbon emissions would only threaten our ability to build back our ability to make things.
To increase our manufacturing we will need government action to prevent subsidised Chinese goods from flooding our markets and destroying any potential for Australian manufacturing to thrive.
President Xi Jinping gave a speech to commemorate 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party a few weeks ago. He did not mention climate change once. He did call for the reunification of China and Taiwan. The risk of China invading Taiwan has much larger implications for our nation than climate change. As much as we would like to wish it otherwise, we will not have global action on climate change until we restore peaceful cooperation among nations. As the Roman general Vegetius said if you want peace, prepare for war.