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Half-brains and US-China war · 11 December 2016

Last week I conducted a survey asking: “What should Australia do if there is War between US and China?”

The most notable result came in response to the question: “What should be done with Chinese students (and other Chinese) in Australia in the event of a US-China hot war”?

Half of the respondents wanted them “expelled”, “monitored very closely”, or similar measures!

Bearing in mind the highly educated nature of the respondents to this survey, one can easily imagine that a great majority of the less educated general Australian population would be in favor of a much tougher approach. Life could become quite difficult for those Chinese in Australia. Expulsion, close monitoring, or maybe even internment?

I was prompted to do the survey by reported comments by Kim Beazley (former Leader of the Opposition and Australian Ambassador to the US) saying that in the event of US-China hot war, Australia would have “no alternative but to line up militarily beside the US”.

Kyle Wilson, a former diplomat and analyst in the Office of National Assessments sent me an email describing my survey (and its questions) in the following way: “This is, frankly, an affront to anyone with half a brain.”

Yet, as far as I can tell all of the people who responded to my survey have much more than “half a brain”.

Thirteen of the 24 people who responded to my survey are (or were) professional economists, and some of these have (or have had) a high public profile in academia, business or government. Eight of the 24 work in academia, with 4 having the title of “professor”. As far as I can tell, 5 of the 24 have substantial direct knowledge of China. Fourteen of the 24 are (as far as I can tell) presently involved in business or consulting.

Wilson’s comments probably reflect a view of many people working in the diplomatic and national security area (such as Wilson and Beazley) that other people not directly involved in these activities are not capable of having and expressing sensible views because – like the people who responded to my survey and were not affronted – they have less than “half a brain”!

So, what did the 24 people (with less than “half a brain”) say? The survey was done via Survey Monkey and sent to over 500 people, the majority of whom are my LinkedIn contacts.

Twenty of the 24 expressed the view that “China would see Australia as the ‘enemy’ for many decades” if “Australia supported the US in a war against China”.

Fourteen expected that Australian would experience a “very severe recession lasting several years”, while the remainder mostly expressed the view that it would depend on various circumstances.

Fourteen of the 24 said that Australia should not “join the US in any military action against China”, 3 said it should, while the remainder said it would depend on the circumstances.

The survey also asked: “What should be done with Chinese students (and other Chinese) in Australia in the event of a US-China hot war”?

Two respondents said such Chinese should be “expelled”, while 8 said “monitor them very closely”. While another 8 said “nothing”, other responses tended to say that it depended on circumstances and offered a variety of views.

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