CHINA’S leader has laid out his ambitious plans for a superpower in a three-hour speech with huge implications for Australia.
CHINA’S BIG PLAN
Senior analyst in defence strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Dr Malcolm Davis, told news.com.au Mr Xi’s message was loud and clear.
Dr Davis said Beijing wanted to replace the US as the world’s dominant superpower, an idea many people have dismissed as absurd as recently as a few years ago.
“China just doesn’t want to be a just regional superpower, it wants to be the superpower,” he said.
Dr Davis said Beijing wanted to challenge US supremacy and reshape the region according to China’s interests and economic development.
However, he acknowledged China faced several domestic challenges which stood in the way of its long-term goal, including suppression of democracy and freedom of speech.
Dr Davis also said Beijing faced a huge demographic problem with an increasing ageing population and declining birthrate.
This, in turn, would further impact on economic growth.
“Like all authoritarian governments, Beijing sees anything which challenges it as a problem and will crack down hard on that,” Dr Davis said.
“After the Tiananmen Square massacre, Beijing said to its people: ‘If you forgo democracy, we will give you prosperity.’”
He questioned what would happen once China’s prosperity ran out and the disparity between rural and city and the elite and the common man was more obvious.
Dr Davis pointed out Beijing was a major maritime power which the US was aware of and one which was determined to assert its dominance, particularly in the South China Sea.
He said China was also trying to make other countries sign up to its One Belt, One Road infrastructure investment project.
By doing this Beijing was extending its influence over other countries which would align themselves more with China than the US.
Dr Davis said China’s plans had a direct impact on Australia.
“Australia was just a backwater when Cold War was taking place, now we are right in the frontline” he said.
“The South China Sea is not far away and China is extending its reach into the Indian Ocean as well.
“We are an ally of the US and a vital partner in any potential conflict. We are front and centre of anything to do with China.”