Is China a bully?

Is China a bully? If you stopped the average person in the street and asked this question, the answer would probably be a resounding ‘YES’.


A bully is defined as: Someone who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable.

So how could China be a bully? ‘China’ is the name of a country, a landmass in Asia, even a collection of people, mainly Chinese in ethnicity. How could any of these entities be a bully?

Yet the perception that China is a bully is widespread. Why?

The average person would recall that very recently China threatened Australia with retaliation over its public push to have an inquiry into the origin, progress and management of the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, which China’s leaders interpreted as Australia pointing the finger of blame at China for this disaster and how it handled it. Now that there is world wide consensus about the need for such an inquiry, the threats have quietened, and China’s ruling class have endorsed it.

Some would quote the words of representatives of China: ambassadors and trade officials, who have made angry threats of trade retaliation against our government because it had sought an inquiry. China’s ambassador to Australia was particularly strident and nasty in his condemnation and his unconcealed threats of retaliation.

Others would quote the savage threats of trade sanctions against Australian barley growers, based on the spurious accusation that they were guilty of ‘dumping’ into China’s markets. This is seen for what it is: retaliation for our government’s uncompromising stand on an enquiry, indeed its leading role.

Now China is threatening to limit coal imports from Australian coal exporters. Government authorities in Beijing have directed state-owned power plants to purchase domestic product instead. Analysts fear this could also lead China to delay cargoes of Australia's most lucrative export, iron ore.

Even as this piece was being written China’s National People’s Congress approved a controversial ‘security’ law that will override Hong Kong’s laws. Pro-democracy activists fear that pushing through the law will mean ‘the end of Hong Kong’ - that is, the effective end of its autonomy and its freedoms. If this is not bullying, what is it?

So there is bullying going on, no matter how you care to define it.

But as we’ve hinted that China as defined above could hardly be labelled a bully, who is it that has created this widely-held perception?

It comes down to the people who control the governing body: ‘The People's Republic of China’, which operates in a framework of a socialist republic run by a single party.

The top man is the President, Xi Jinping. Elected by the National People’s Congress, he is simultaneously the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, and thereby the top leader in the one party system. He has held this position for seven years. So he is the one who controls the Party and the government of China. His subordinates follow his lead unquestionably.

If anyone is guilty of bullying, it is he, not the Chinese people.

If other evidence of his bullying propensity is needed, take his attitude to the Spratly Islands, located off the coast of the Philippines and Malaysia, claimed by both of these nations as well as Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan. Xi insists that China has sovereignty over these islands and has aggressively taken control of them to build military bases.

To highlight his military capability, Xi has ordered his navy to patrol the South China Sea, which encompass an area of around 3,500,000 square kilometres from the Karimata Strait, situated between Sumatra and Java to the west and Kalimantan to the east and the Strait of Malacca separating Indonesia and Malaysia, to the Strait of Taiwan, and in doing so China’s control over the strategic Zhongsha Islands. It claims all the islands, reefs, and shoals within the South China Sea.

The South China Sea is of great strategic importance; one-third of the world's shipping passes through it, carrying over $3 trillion in trade each year. It contains lucrative fisheries in Scarborough Shoal, which are crucial for the food security of millions in Southeast Asia. Huge oil and gas reserves are believed to lie beneath its seabed.

The ‘demarcation line’ used by the People’s Republic of China to define its sovereignty over this area is named: ‘the nine-dash line, or the ten-dash line or even the eleven-dash line’. It refers an undefined, vaguely located, but not internationally recognised, inverted U-shaped line that China itself has drawn in the South China Sea, shown as green in this image..

So whichever way you care to spin China’s attitude and approach to sovereignty, it is hard to escape the conclusion that China is indeed a bully, headed by the bully-in-chief, Xi Jinping.

But there is matching bully across the Atlantic. You know who he is. Writing in in The Age, George Megalogenis says: The bully that is supposed to have our back, Washington, is often indistinguishable from the bully who now threatens our economy, Beijing. If the Chinese continue to pick off our second-tier exports to teach us a lesson for speaking out, perhaps Trump might want to open up his economy to Australia to compensate us for our losses? But this is not how Trump sees the world. He'd like Americans to buy local, and to sell their surpluses to the rest of the world. A world where China cuts out Australia, and leaves us to bargain with a protectionist US, is not one that serves our interests. This cartoon says it all.

Make up you own mind who the bullies are.

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Phil Pryor


There was a time when the powerful could charge and be aggressive to maintain momentum, or they might relax and use position to be diplomatic, even civilised. Today, a naked irritablity and fear of being lapped threatens us all as the drives are blind and  rhino-. Elections reflect corrupt and perverted popularity, re-inforce stupidity, magnify  failure. Fear this. The nations of egotistical idiots, e g, Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro, Putin, Modi are world leaders in cases and deaths of the virus plague, covid-19. Egotistical overconfident stupidity has led to inadequate and late action. People die of this low politics.

Ad Astra



Do take a look at the Featured Video near the top of the page for more details of the rise to power of Xi Jinping.



To my mind, 'Australia' is unto a Chihuahua yapping at the feet of a Sumo wrestler.

A flick of his toe has already left it winded and yelping. 'China' could kick it over the neighbour's roof if he wanted ..

? Why the quote marks? - Because of course it's not landmasses nor nations nor The People who make the decisions, it's those in power.                 

But who owns that little dog anyway? ..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh look at its collar, all red white and blue with stars and stripes!

The Australian Government in its wisdom decided to suck up to Trump by blaming China for the "China Virus" and demanding an inquiry skewed to achieve condemnation of it. Chinese people are intensely sensitive to slights and insults, they hate losing face, and their diplomatic responses are generally nuanced and proportionate. Furthermore they are consummate businesspeople. It is now convenient for China to use Australia as its proxy for the US. We are a soft target, China can smack our economy almost without raising a sweat, and given our yapping, it is no wonder that they have taken action to express their attitude. Given the disparity in size between Us and Them, it may be seen as bullying I suppose, but I tend to view it as deserved and appropriate. China has now agreed to a full but less biased investigation of all matters Covid, but that too is unsurprising given their generally rational attitude to the pandemic. - eg they ALL wore masks for weeks, and got on top of it fast once they had identified the problem. Australia's agenda was to blame China for the very existence of the virus - which all virologists have dismissed as ridiculous and near-impossible - just to please Trump. The rest of the world, China included, just want to learn all they can about pandemics.

I think back to the way the West has treated Asians over most of history, and I don't find it hard to understand that deep-seated resentment may be part of the motivation for China's present actions against the Australian Government. I think those actions are pretty normal as a means of expressing disapproval. In 1973 Australia under Gough Whitlam was first nation in the West to have formally opened diplomatic relations with "Red" China, and while Labor Governments have been in power, relations between our countries has been excellent. But these bumbling bent RW bastards have soured those relations, to our loss.  

Ad Astra


Talk Turkey

I take your points.

You last paragraph reminds me of the "100 years of humiliation" that the Chinese administration talks of over and again.

Desmond Maddalena


A bully is defined as someone who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those who they perceive as vulnerable. So is China a bully you ask, then use some examples. The barley sales incident. The Covid-19 incident. You might well have used the Huawei incident as well. If we look closely we notice that China was responding to aggressive statements from Australia's PM who is well known as a Trumpite sycophant. Asians are sensitive to loss of face and will generally react negatively when abused. China has done this after being goaded by Trump Pacific Ocean terrier, our PM. To call China a bully after it has been verbally assaulted by our PM is quite ridiculous. Let's be honest, the USA is in a trade war with China. While this is happening Australia sits on a political fence. One third of our national trade is with China and about one twentieth with USA. From a trade perspective we should be backing China all the way. However, we feel very vulnerable in Australia since WW2 when the Japanese bombed Darwin. We cling onto the ANZUS treaty with the delusion that the USA will defend us from all the evil Asians. Would they? Could they? Remember our previous protectors the UK during WW2 deserted us while our armies were in their country defending them. Do you know a large part of our wartime debt was the pay the UK for accommodation of our troops defending them? The real world bully is the USA. It puts unilateral sanctions not only on a wide variety of countries but on corporations and even citizens when they do anything that the USA considers a threat to their world-looting economy. The USA has also put sanctions on Australia. These sanctions sound the work of a bully. Australia needs to seriously resist rubbing our biggest trading partner the wrong way to show how brave we are to Trump's psychotic empire as Aussie jobs and our whole economy is on the line by our PM's rash behavior.

How many umbrellas are there if I have two in my hand but the wind then blows them away?