With the South China Sea dispute back on the front burner and trade tensions between the United States and China bubbling over, some of America’s regional allies are starting to feel the heat. Yet when Mike Pompeo told a Sydney forum that “You can sell your soul for a pile of soybeans or you can protect your people,” Australia’s good and great were “gobsmacked,” according to an eyewitness account from The Spectator Australia. Substitute a lump of Australian coal for a pile of American soybeans, and Pompeo’s message was clear.
China’s rise and rearmament has introduced a security schizophrenia into Australian politics. Canberra’s China doves argue that Australia should accommodate its giant neighbor and number one export partner, sign up to Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, and do whatever it takes to avoid attracting China’s ire.
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