Loving our International Enemies

Rodney Eivers

11th April 2021

            At a recent meeting of a SOFiA (Sea of Faith in Australia) small group the topic was raised of the relationship between China and Australia. The subject was presented by an Australian citizen of Chinese ethnic origin. She outlined the cultural and historical background to explain why the Chinese government responds and acts in the way it does.

            I found much to agree with in what she had described. I penned a response to her. One of the readers of the response suggested that my notes deserved a wider readership.

            Hence, my UC Forum companions I offer you my comments in response to J’s exploration of what makes China do and say what its government does.

Dear J,

                        Thank you, such a lot, for your detailed and informative details on the background to Chinese policies. I very much agree with the position you have taken in getting to understand (in your personal case, probably more of a recall) why China acts the way it does.

            For me, it is a case of applying a wider principle in both personal and international relationships. That of loving one’s enemies. In loving them, of course, they no longer become our enemies. And, it follows that a good way to start making friends is to be aware of where they are coming from; what makes them tick. You have done us the service of providing some reasons for the behaviour of the Chinese government through the Chinese Communist Party. It is a topic that I would enjoy talking about with others whenever the occasion arises.

            But I want to bring in here also the wider principle. I will include the other “axis” power in that – Russia.

            It distresses me that, with this world we are leaving to our grandchildren, there is so much war talk and aggressive posturing. It does not have to be.

            If we are worried about war in Europe, let us encourage Russia to join NATO. If we are worried about keeping the international shipping lanes open in the South China sea, invite the Chinese navy to join the USA, Australia etc. in jointly patrolling the oceans. We already have the structure of the United Nations to facilitate international cooperation       

            Is it really that hard? 

            Think about what is already happening.  I find it amazing and incongruous that we have the United States and Russia shaping up against each other with piles of atom bombs ready for MAD. At the same time the United States is using a Russian rocket to send Americans to the international space station!

            What about China and Australia?  Believe it or not, as recently as 2019, China and Australia shared in joint military exercises on Chinese soil – Hainan Province. Once again, it can be done.

            For now, the Western democracies, if they could hang together, rather than squabbling with one another a la Brexit and “Make America Great (in isolation), have far the upper hand in overall economic and military power. Strategically no country can come anywhere near matching the international naval power and influence of the United States. So now, while we have that advantage, is the time to work at bringing the authoritarian regimes in with us to maintain a peaceful world.

            Perhaps we could learn from what happened after the second world war and the battle with Germany and Japan. With Germany there was the Marshall Plan. With Japan the conquering allies allowed the nation to maintain its cultural traditions. And now, of course, Germany and Japan are prime examples of the working of national democracy and international harmony. Internationally they are friends of the very people they warred against so intensively those years ago.

            We read this week of North Korea and President Kim Jong Un acknowledging that his country is in dire economic straits. Perhaps there is an opportunity for some sort of international “Marshall Plan” in North Korea rather than having both sides threaten each other with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.” Once again, the “West” has by far the superior power in the relationship.

            So, yes, let’s get to understand our “enemies” better. Who knows? By doing this we may leave our world in a much better condition for those who come after us.


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