Chinese Diplomacy – A Beginner’s Guide

Last week, a Chinese diplomat issued a list of grievances. Ostensibly, it was a catalogue of things we’re doing that are said to be ticking off the People’s Republic of China.  Some might consider the issuance of such a list to be disappointing, if not a little juvenile. I, on the other hand, find it refreshing.  It’s the kind of candor should be welcomed, if not celebrated.  That it has arrived in list form rather than say, for example, arising in direct dialogue, is little more than nitpicking.  

Whilst I expected them to take issue with foreign investment decisions, I was surprised to find ‘Pre-game entertainment at the 2020 AFL Grand Final’ made the list.  Granted, it was a little on the dour side and, with the benefit of hindsight, should have been a more upbeat.  Really, the AFL have only themselves to blame for ignoring my suggestion to bring back Angry Anderson and have him do some serious circle work at the Gabba in the Batmobile whilst blaring out ‘Bound for Glory’.  

Perhaps more surprising still was the position of ‘Pre-game entertainment’ in the list, coming in at number seven. Granted, I don’t think the Embassy stated that the grievances were in order of significance, but I think it can be implied.  If we haven’t already booked them, I strongly suggest we lock in ‘The Killers’ for next year and for every year after that, if possible.  Problem solved.

Hook turns’.  Sure, they’re pretty confusing for the uninitiated, if not a little intimidating, but if they’re that upsetting to the people of China then I, personally, would be happy to have another look at them.  Again, I’m a little surprised that hook turns should be given the kind of diplomatic pre-eminence usually reserved for territorial incursions, but I’m sure they are plenty of Melbournians who would probably agree with China. 

Item number twelve is as simple as it is understandable. It simply reads ‘MAFS’.  Whilst it would be easy to take offence at the fact that China regards one of our most significant cultural exports to be a catastrophic hot mess, I see it as an opportunity.  As with any list of complaints, what you’re really looking for is any common ground you can find.  And, I feel, most people will be ready to sacrifice the cesspool of human misery that is ‘Married at First Sight’.

Active wear outside a gym setting’.   Honestly, this feels like they’re being too sensitive.  I can recall back in 1979, when the Chinese President Deng Xiaoping said he found Faberge jeans to be an affront to human dignity. I, of course, have similar feelings about the re-education camps in Xinjiang, but each to their own. Apparently, there was something about Fabber-grabbers that really got up the collective nose of the powers that be in China.  Now it seems that disaffection has found a new home in the form of opposing gym clothes when not actually exercising.  Frankly, this historical prejudice against skin-tight apparel has me baffled.  In this instance, I think we should stand firm and suggest they build a bridge and get over it which, as luck would have it, is what the whole ‘Belt and Road’ initiative is all about.

The use of the term ‘Chinese whispers’ comes in at number ten, sandwiched between foreign interference laws and this country’s stubborn insistence on preferring VHS over Betamax.  I think we can all agree that, in this day and age, we probably shouldn’t be using a term as loaded as ‘Chinese whispers’ any more than we should refer to ‘Dutch ovens’. I, for one, would be happy to replace it with ‘careless whispers’.  Not only does it avoid insulting a nation of over one billion people, it has the added advantage of making you think of that wonderful saxophone riff from the George Michael song every time the phrase is uttered.  

Gratuitous Use of the Word “Girt” in our National Anthem’.  They’ve got a point.  Other than when singing our national anthem, under what heightened circumstances does anyone ever use the term ‘girt’?  Lucky for us, the list isn’t just a series of gripes. It also includes constructive suggestions; the adoption of which will resolve China’s issues.  It’s not what you think.  Rather than propose a slight tweak to ‘Advance Australia Fair’ to remove the offending term, the Embassy has proposed it’s wholesale replacement.  Apparently, the proposal to substitute our current anthem with ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ comes directly from no less than Xi Jinping himself, who is a massive Acca Dacca fan.  

Most disappointingly, is number two, which reads ‘Nuisance phone calls’.  If I may be so bold, they’re only nuisance phone calls if you don’t call back.  Treating Ministers of the Crown as if they’re telemarketers trying to flog rooftop solar should, perhaps, be on a list of our own.

I’m feeling inspired.  To all the members of my immediate family who may be reading this and are expecting a present this Christmas; think again.  This year, you’ll be getting a list of grievances. I promise that my complaints will be both many and varied, stuffed deep into a stocking.  Or, alternatively, perhaps we could have a conversation.  Wouldn’t that be something?