It is particularly relevant to note the report was seized on by like-minded counterparts in the mainstream Australian press, with every intention of pushing the line into the Morrison coalition government in Canberra.
In May the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) based in Britain published a report Breaking the China Supply Chain: How the Five Eyes can Decouple from Strategic Dependency. (1) The publication was the outcome of research into perceived Chinese influence in the countries of the so-called Five Eyes, a super elite intelligence-sharing organisation composed of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Based on glittery websites with all the hallmarks of top-notch sales and marketing techniques, the publication was aimed at a specific readership within the higher levels of the corridors of power.
Coverage reviews of the HJS report in mainstream Australian media outlets were written in an obsequious and sycophantic style reminiscent of strategically-placed creeps in the corridors of power in Canberra.
It is not particularly difficult to establish why the HJS have become so concerned about the economies of the Five Eyes. They are all the victims of US-led economic rationalist policies; slipping down the table of recorded GDP growth rates in relation to other countries:
Position – All Countries, 2018
UK 155 (2)
Following decades of globalisation, the report suggested China had been able to gain strategic advantage inside the global economy. The report did not note, however, many of the countries placed higher in the table had more favourable trade with China, or the nature of their softer diplomacy based in mutual respect.
While taking a very broad definition of the subject area, the report, nevertheless, concluded Australia was technically 'dependent on China'. (3) Australia had been assessed as strategically dependent across 595 categories of goods. The US compared at 414, while the UK had 229.
The report did not address underlying economic patterns and methods of operation in recent decades. The five countries in question have become massive exporters of capital, flung to the four corners of the globe in search of higher returns for shareholders; investment in domestic programs has taken second priority. They have, therefore, slipped down the table of GDP growth; their economies are not in a healthy state. The economic rationalist policies have, nevertheless, served the best interests of those wielding class and state power. Massive discrepancies of wealth accumulation are recorded in the all five countries, with drastically lower living standards for the mass of the population.
No reference was provided in the report that both Australia and China exist in the same geographical region, which has provided a far more satisfactory explanation about their close trade relations. The same explanation also can be used for the US. Countries with close proximity to each other usually trade; why would any business organisation ship the bulk of their manufactured produce long distances when shorter haulage and logistics are possible, across Asia and Pacific?
Those associated with Cambridge and Westminster, however, are hardly likely to be knowledgeable about manufacturing and trade. Such occupations would normally be associated with those sectors of society regarded as existing outside the social positions of those within the higher echelons of privilege and class and state power.
The report, nevertheless, subsequently advocated 'strategic decoupling' from China without reference to present Cold War positions or the fact China is Australia's biggest trading partner. Reference to 'supply chain warfare' was linked to 'economic coercion' without reference to standard US-led business practices where intimidation is commonplace. (4)
Two significant factors when evaluating the report arise: the role of the Henry Jackson Society and their associates; their relationship with the Trump administration.
What is the HJS?
The HJS can hardly be regarded as an average lobby-type organisation; it is closely associated with Tom Tugendhat, M.P., chair of the present Conservative government House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee since 2017. The committee has a sub-committee, The China Research Group, convened specifically to deal with the rise of China.
A quick study of the curriculum vitae of Tugendhat has revealed a great deal about the political positions of the HJS. His military career and active service overseas in trouble-spots around the world also included Tugendhat joining the Intelligence Corps in 2003. He subsequently rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel a decade later. Foisted into the safe Conservative seat of Tonbridge and Malling in 2015, Tugendhat was subsequently associated with the highly secretive Bilderburg group. He would appear popular with his masters, part of their patronage systems and serving their interests well.
Other people listed in HJS circles also include Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 who was noted as a founder member. Intelligence organisations have a long history of operations through front-type bodies. The British overseas intelligence service is also closely linked to the Commonwealth, and acts as a private intelligence-gathering body linked directly to the Privy Council and head of state, which at the present time is Prince Charles who is invariably referred to in diplomatic jargon 'as acting'.
Any pretence at objective research techniques can be quickly dispelled with the HJS. In 2017 they were, for example, found to have run an anti-China campaign funded by Japan. (5) It had serious implications; those who pay the piper, invariably call the tune.
Influence of the HJS in Australia
The HJS also have an Australian connection, being revealed when former PM Malcolm Turnbull was invited to address the organisation in House of Commons Committee Room 14 last year, speaking about perceived problems in the Asia-Pacific. (6) The hard right of the Coalition government draws on its publications. On May 12, NSW Senator Fierravanti-Wells cited an HJS report entitled Coronavirus Compensation, calling in the Senate for a “a plan for reparations and a plan to decouple from China.”
The HJS is nothing other than the softer-sell of a much harder US-led intelligence-based cutting edge of Cold War political positions. It has far-reaching implications for Australia.
The publication of the HJS report also coincided, for example, with a major diplomatic statement from the Trump administration. In May, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, issued a statement about the Five Eyes. Addressing the matter of the Andrews State government in Victoria signing for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative last October, Pompeo referred to 'national security elements' and the 'Five Eyes partners', together with a threat to stop intelligence-sharing with Australia. In a blunt manner he stated 'we will simply disconnect … and … we will simply separate'. (7)
Fears had apparently arisen in US-led circles about China being able to access telecommunications facilities. (8)
In a manner characteristic of the present Morrison coalition government, Peter Dutton stated he supported Pompeo on national security. It coincided with a series of muck-raking articles throughout the final week of May about figures associated with the Andrews government and people of Chinese ethnic backgrounds, implying they had been up to no good.
With the HJS and their US-led cronies establishing a major foothold in Australian government, politics and the mainstream media, we need an independent foreign policy!
1. Finally the scales have fallen from the five eyes partners, Australian, 21 May 2020.
2. Wikipedia: GDP Growth Rates, Position, Country and Country.
3. Australian, op.cit., 21 May 2020.
5. British think-tank funded by Japan pushing anti-China campaign into mainstream
UK media, The Drum, 21 January 2017.
6. Preserving the freedom of the Asia-Pacific, HJS, Australia, 5 March 2019.
7. Pompeo warns US may stop intelligence with Australia over Victoria inking deal with China, Oleg Burunov, Sputnik, 24 May 2020.