"Caught with your pants down".
It's a very descriptive word picture conjuring up all sorts of imagery.
Similarly, the term "belt and braces" - suggesting double-locked security ensuring your pants stay up.
So, what of the term Belt and Road Initiative, which has been in the news?
A quick explainer: The word 'Belt' in BRI is short for 'Silk Road Economic Belt', which refers to the proposed overland routes for rail and road transportation along the historical 'Silk Road' trade routes of Central Asia before reaching Europe.
The 'Belt' initiative attempts to integrate the Eurasian landmass into a cohesive economic area that serves China's interests.
The word 'Road' in BRI is short for '21st Century Maritime Silk Road', referring to the Indo-Pacific sea routes through South and Southeast Asia to Africa and the Middle East.
The 'Road' is the development of ports and economic hubs across the Indo-Pacific; the purchase and construction of port facilities and associated economic zones to provide China with maritime access and economic benefit across the Indian Ocean.
Recently, the Liberal government terminated the Victorian Labor government's BRI Memorandum of Understanding and supporting documentation which provided a wide open gate for the Chinese Communist Dictatorship to become an integral part of the Victorian economy and enmeshed in its infrastructure program.
The stupidity/naveté or wilful ideological motivation to walk in lockstep with such a brutal and barbaric dictatorship defies explanation. To do so was clearly inconsistent with Australia's national interest and needed to be terminated.
For that to occur, the Parliament needed to clothe the Minister for Foreign Affairs with power to terminate such agreements after due consideration. Those powers only came into force in December through Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020.
It was an eye-opening exercise to Chair the Senate's inquiry into the proposed legislation. It was good to see it enacted and telling that only one country, China, made strong objections when the legislation is not aimed at any one country.
As a result, the federal government is now clothed with legislative authority to override agreements made by state governments, local councils, universities and other bodies with overseas players which are not in our national interest.
The BRI is part of the Chinese Communist Dictatorship's attempt at economic leverage over a variety of governments around the world.
The 'Belt' includes such ports in Australia (Darwin), Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Oman and Djibouti, which connects to Piraeus, Greece's major port, which has been bought by Chinese shipping group COSCO and which will allow direct access to the markets of Europe.
Chinese firms now own parts of more than a dozen European ports. Djibouti's port is now China's first overseas military base with the potential to support aircraft carriers in the future. Sri Lanka, after months of negotiating their bad debts with the Chinese government, handed over one of its ports, next to one of the most vital shipping lanes in the world (and 15,000 acres of land around it) for 99 years.
The hapless Victorian Labor government gave the Chinese dictatorship worldwide propaganda ...
The hapless Victorian Labor government gave the Chinese dictatorship worldwide propaganda pointing to the embrace of BRI by one of Australia's states. Brutal dictatorships crave legitimacy and acceptance. That's why they grasp to host the Olympics. Similarly, they grasp to sign deals with nations, the reputations of which (such as Australia) are seen as of high quality in the world community and domestically amongst their own population.
There is no doubt that is why the dictatorship sought an extradition treaty with Australia some six years ago.
It would have been of high propaganda value to have Australia acknowledge that China's dictatorship's legal system was on par with ours in Australia. This was at the height of our engagement with China, where we shamefully cast a blind eye to the dictatorship's ever-growing list of human rights abuses.
As the sole voice in the Coalition Party Room to express opposition to the proposed treaty, it's gratifying to see that despite the personal criticism levelled by some at the time, the Dictatorship was denied this extra claim to legitimacy. The idea of an extradition treaty with the Dictatorship is now thankfully completely off the agenda.
Victorian Labor was caught with its pants down and exposed by its BRI flirtation. It is good to see the belt and braces legislation enacted by the federal Liberal government come to the rescue to terminate the cynical and exploitative Belt and Road Initiative.
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