Can Softball Diplomacy Unsettle Beijing’s Hardball?

Australia could be committing $600 million to enable Papua New Guinea to form an 18th rugby league team.CommentaryWill the sponsoring of a hardball game, namely rugby league, help to diminish the influence of hardball diplomacy?That is the question on many Australian lips as their government allegedly considers committing $600 million (US$380 million) to bankroll an 18th National Rugby League (NRL) team in Papua New Guinea (PNG).Related Stories10/18/2023Rugby league is the national sport of the PNG that captures the imagination, dreams, and spare time of many in the country. To help formalise such a popular sport and incorporate it into Australia’s national professional league will bind the bonds between the two countries. Of that, there is no doubt.Its effectiveness will depend on how deft-footed the Australian Labor government and its officials are in playing hardball along with this attempt at soft diplomacy.The handing over of money and support without stamping it with “Australia” has been a long-standing foreign aid failure of our country. People in need gratefully receive the aid but don't necessarily know from whence it came.This is a time for the provision of aid to be boldly and blatantly stamped “with love from Australia.” And the administration of the funding will need to be closely monitored to ensure it goes to the players and clubs, and not first-class flights and hotels.Incorporating a PNG team into the NRL will boost the sport in Australia's northern neighbour like never before, especially for young aspirant players who will see a new horizon to which they can strive.The $600 million proposal will be in excess of Australia’s Official Development Assistance provided to PNG last year which totalled $596.2 million. So in the scheme of things, this is a substantial commitment.Any astute analysis may also ask whether this aid package from left field is also designed to counter the ever-hardball foreign policy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictatorship in the region. CCP's Aggressive Expansion The CCP’s relentless pursuit of Pacific Island nations with offers of largesse, as recently witnessed with the Solomon Islands, includes the duchessing of PNG which now owes 23.7 percent of its international debt to the Chinese communist dictatorship.In recent times, PNG Prime Minister James Marape engaged with Chinese communist officialdom in a manner that may have been concerning to some who closely monitor foreign affairs and the ruthless hardball diplomacy engaged by Beijing. Papua New Guiney Prime Minister James Marape at APEC haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on July 28, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)On the morning of Oct. 17, Chinese leader Xi Jinping met at the Great Hall of the People with Prime Minister Marape who was in Beijing to attend the latest Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.It will be recalled that the Australian Morrison government in 2021 rightly used its power to cancel two Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deals signed by the Andrews Labor government with Beijing on well-established security grounds.The BRI is part of the Chinese communist dictatorship’s modus operandi to engage itself economically in the affairs of other countries while silently milking the host economies of substantial sums of money.Nearly a quarter of PNG’s international indebtedness is owed to China. That is hardball engagement with a clear strategic goal in mind, tying up your neighbours into your economy, lavishing them with short-term fixes before they realise they have become addicted and there is no way out.Sri Lanka is a case in point.Analysing Beijing’s approach to BRI and Australia’s soft diplomacy of sponsoring a rugby league team suggests Beijing is the more formidable team, playing hardball on the rugby field of international relations.Australia’s soft response will not see its side of the scoreboard bothered in any contest. And let there be no doubt there is a contest with Beijing scoring again and again.In the face of Beijing's tactics, it appears the Australian government is hoping soft diplomacy can effectively counter the ruthlessness and aggressive play of its opponent.But in international relations, red cards can not be handed out to send off players for unfair tactics, and the CCP knows this and plays accordingly.Australia may need to instead, harden up its approach.Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Can Softball Diplomacy Unsettle Beijing’s Hardball?

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Australia could be committing $600 million to enable Papua New Guinea to form an 18th rugby league team.

Commentary

Will the sponsoring of a hardball game, namely rugby league, help to diminish the influence of hardball diplomacy?

That is the question on many Australian lips as their government allegedly considers committing $600 million (US$380 million) to bankroll an 18th National Rugby League (NRL) team in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Rugby league is the national sport of the PNG that captures the imagination, dreams, and spare time of many in the country. To help formalise such a popular sport and incorporate it into Australia’s national professional league will bind the bonds between the two countries. Of that, there is no doubt.

Its effectiveness will depend on how deft-footed the Australian Labor government and its officials are in playing hardball along with this attempt at soft diplomacy.

The handing over of money and support without stamping it with “Australia” has been a long-standing foreign aid failure of our country. People in need gratefully receive the aid but don't necessarily know from whence it came.

This is a time for the provision of aid to be boldly and blatantly stamped “with love from Australia.” And the administration of the funding will need to be closely monitored to ensure it goes to the players and clubs, and not first-class flights and hotels.

Incorporating a PNG team into the NRL will boost the sport in Australia's northern neighbour like never before, especially for young aspirant players who will see a new horizon to which they can strive.

The $600 million proposal will be in excess of Australia’s Official Development Assistance provided to PNG last year which totalled $596.2 million. So in the scheme of things, this is a substantial commitment.

Any astute analysis may also ask whether this aid package from left field is also designed to counter the ever-hardball foreign policy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictatorship in the region.

.

CCP's Aggressive Expansion

The CCP’s relentless pursuit of Pacific Island nations with offers of largesse, as recently witnessed with the Solomon Islands, includes the duchessing of PNG which now owes 23.7 percent of its international debt to the Chinese communist dictatorship.

In recent times, PNG Prime Minister James Marape engaged with Chinese communist officialdom in a manner that may have been concerning to some who closely monitor foreign affairs and the ruthless hardball diplomacy engaged by Beijing.

.

 Papua New Guiney Prime Minister James Marape at APEC haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on July 28, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)
Papua New Guiney Prime Minister James Marape at APEC haus in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on July 28, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)

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On the morning of Oct. 17, Chinese leader Xi Jinping met at the Great Hall of the People with Prime Minister Marape who was in Beijing to attend the latest Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

It will be recalled that the Australian Morrison government in 2021 rightly used its power to cancel two Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deals signed by the Andrews Labor government with Beijing on well-established security grounds.

The BRI is part of the Chinese communist dictatorship’s modus operandi to engage itself economically in the affairs of other countries while silently milking the host economies of substantial sums of money.

Nearly a quarter of PNG’s international indebtedness is owed to China. That is hardball engagement with a clear strategic goal in mind, tying up your neighbours into your economy, lavishing them with short-term fixes before they realise they have become addicted and there is no way out.

Sri Lanka is a case in point.

Analysing Beijing’s approach to BRI and Australia’s soft diplomacy of sponsoring a rugby league team suggests Beijing is the more formidable team, playing hardball on the rugby field of international relations.

Australia’s soft response will not see its side of the scoreboard bothered in any contest. And let there be no doubt there is a contest with Beijing scoring again and again.

In the face of Beijing's tactics, it appears the Australian government is hoping soft diplomacy can effectively counter the ruthlessness and aggressive play of its opponent.

But in international relations, red cards can not be handed out to send off players for unfair tactics, and the CCP knows this and plays accordingly.

Australia may need to instead, harden up its approach.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.