Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been described as a “complete fool” by China’s most popular tabloid newspaper.
The editorial piece was printed in response to comments made by Ms Bishop which were published by Fairfax Media last Thursday. The Chinese tabloid, called the Global Times, is published in both English and Chinese, although the Chinese version went much further in its criticism of Australia and our foreign minister.
“Australia’s history is not short of records of human rights infringement on the Aboriginal population,”
“The country used to be a place roamed by rascals and outlaws from Europe. Perhaps it has to boast its values to cover up its actual lack of confidence in front of Western countries,”
were both statements made in the editorial, although the Chinese version of the story went on to say, “China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs doesn’t even have the tools to deal with this kind of ‘complete fool’ of a foreign minister,” referring to Julie Bishop.
In the offending interview, she vowed to stand up for Australian values when dealing with China, and to “manage for the worst” in the two countries’ relationship. “China doesn’t respect weakness,” she said.
The Global Times has contrasted this interview with Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s speech to his guest, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Prime Minister Abbott told Mr Abe that he “admired the skill and sense of honour”, in reference to the Japanese submariners who attacked Sydney Harbour in 1942. The author of the Chinese editorial piece commented, “If Abbott’s words were meant to flatter his visiting Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Bishop’s provocation appeared to have come out of nowhere,” it says.
This contrasting treatment of the two countries by Australia comes at a time when tensions are already high between Japan and China and, as the author of the piece points out, China is Australia’s biggest trading partner.
“Many Chinese people who read about this could not believe these words came from the Australian Foreign Minister. China is Australia’s biggest trade partner and has not offended Australia in any way. Bishop’s verbal provocation made her look more like one of the often pointless ‘angry youths’ found in the Chinese cyber sphere than a diplomat.”
The editor of the Global Times is known for his controversial commentaries, as well as being very vocal about issues of nationalism.
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald website.
I’m sure there is more to this story than meets the eye. There has to be, doesn’t there? As it stands, it seems as though Prime Minister Tony Abbott is giving the royal treatment to the Japanese Government, while simultaneously Foreign Minister Bishop is damaging our relationship with China.
China is our largest trading partner and, while Japan may be number two on that list, the amount of trade Australia undertakes with China is double what we do with Japan. If China decided it didn’t want to come out and play anymore, Australia would be in a very tricky position indeed.
So what is Foreign Minister Bishop doing? Is it really a case of showing China that Australia isn’t weak? And does insulting China accomplish that goal? Or are, as I suspect is the case, Ms Bishop’s personal prejudices shining through in her treatment of one of our nearest neighbours?
With Japan and China’s relationship already on the rocks it seems to me that Australia should be playing peacekeeper, not playing favourites and causing unrest.
What do you think? Is this a tactical move on Australia’s part? Or is Julie Bishop, as the Chinese believe, acting like a “complete fool” in the way she is handling this situation?