The Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Senator James Paterson, warned that China wants Australia to be a vassal state.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, in a speech to the Henry Jackson Society think tank in London on Friday, March 11, Senator James Paterson said that if Putin could overthrow Ukraine’s government, it could “inspire the ambitions of autocracies in the Indo-Pacific.”

Paterson proposed that British MPs follow Australia’s footsteps in fighting foreign interference and driving out of the so-called “grey-zone” areas where foreign powers use a range of non-military tactics to subvert another country.

He said that China has continuously put pressure on Australia. In late 2020 Beijing, the Chinese embassy in Canberra forwarded to Nine News, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age a list of 14 disputes that pressured the Australian government to reverse its position on significant policies.

Paterson said, “The 14 demands was really an invitation from China to Australia to become a vassal state – it’s an invitation we have politely but firmly rejected”.

He refuted the Chinese government’s claim that they do not seek to export their ideology, calling it a lie. He cited the examples of the Tibetans, Uighurs, Taiwanese, and Hongkongers, those he believes are very much aware of Beijing’s lie.

He said, “It also exposes the intellectual weakness of those who argued that economic engagement with China was the best protection we had against finding ourselves on the wrong side of their rise.”

The Senator added, “For China, their economic power is just another tool of statecraft to be deployed against anyone they have leverage over, just like Russia uses energy dependence to weaken Europe’s resolve in confronting its malign activities.”

He suggested that the way to deal with this was not “endlessly more engagement.” Instead, he said Australia must diversify international trade and reduce dependence on authoritarian states’ supply chains.

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