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Dragon glares at Five Eyes alliance, spews fire at Australia

Strong bullies flex their muscles, expecting that this act alone will silence and subdue the adversary into submission. When that doesn’t happen, they do more than flexing their muscles; they threaten in no uncertain terms. This is exactly what China has been doing for quite some time, but now the threats are becoming more brazen and blatant. Convinced of its own invincibility, the dragon has now almost served an ultimatum to the Five Eyes alliance—comprising the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada but especially Australia—for its criticism of its policies in Hong Kong. The criticism was in response to Beijing’s new draconian rules in the special administrative region and expulsion of four pro-democracy Hong Kong legislators from the legislature.

“The Chinese never stir trouble, but they aren’t afraid of trouble either,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told journalists in Beijing on Thursday. The imagery he deployed had the crudity of a C-grade Hindi movie villain’s and not the finesse that is expected of a diplomat: “No matter how many ‘eyes’ you have, be careful not to be poked and get blind by harming China's sovereignty, security and development interests.”

The Five Eyes alliance is aimed at sharing intelligence with each other. If the dragon is angry with the alliance, it is spewing fire at Australia. In an extraordinary act of imperiousness, it has accused the Australian government of “poisoning bilateral relations” by deliberately leading a document.

About a couple of months ago, China had warned the Indian mediapersons to behave themselves. It was furious that leading Indian newspapers had carried advertisements by the Taiwan government, celebrating the democratic country’s national day. The advertisement carried Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s photograph and hailed India as a natural partner of island nation threatened by the dragon.

“Regarding the so-called forthcoming ‘National Day of Taiwan,’ the Chinese Embassy in India would like to remind our media friends that there is only one China in the world, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China,” the Chinese Embassy said. “We hope Indian media can stick to Indian government’s position on Taiwan question and do not violate the ‘One China’ principle.”

In a similar vein, Beijing also wants the Australian media to desist from coming up with any “unfriendly or antagonistic report on China.”

It also wants to dictate Australia’s policy choices. It is unhappy with Canberra’s “opaque national security grounds” that have an adverse effect on 10 Chinese investment projects.

Not only the Australian government should follow the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party; Australian parliamentarians should also behave themselves. Beijing is incensed that some parliamentarians have the temerity of making “outrageous condemnations of the governing party of China and racist attacks against Chinese or Asian people.” Interestingly, there is little evidence of any other Asian country accusing Australia of racism; only the CCP, whose racist policies are tormenting millions of Muslims and Tibetans, sees racism in Australia.

Come to think of it, Australia is not a banana republic or a small nation beholden to China because of the Belt & Road Initiative; it is a continent-size Western nation in a strategic alliance with the United States; and yet China has the cheek to lecture Australia and its media what they should do. It is tempting to dismiss all this as hubris, but that may be underestimating the threat the dragon poses to the world..