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In an escalating dispute, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is taking his nation’s quarrel with China to the World Trade Organization for its tariffs on Australian products. As quoted in an article in The Guardian, Birmingham explains:

We have been a long-standing defender of the international rules-based system, of the importance of multilateral cooperation and engagement. In doing so it is appropriate that, when we argue for there to be international rules and an independent international umpire to resolve disputes, that when we find ourselves in the case of having such disputes we call in the umpire.

This is only the latest salvo in a spiraling series in the Asia-Pacific sphere, with China converting a rarely used island off Australia’s coast to a fish processing unit, which has raised fears of the potential for a military installation. The move led the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance — comprised of five Anglosphere countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States — to begin planning sanctions on China.

Something else started it all. China, an imperial power throughout nearly its entire history, has finally realized that Australia is fit to be an outpost. The stubborn Aussie refusal to cave to China on all regional concerns eventually led to a crushing tariff over Australian wines.

Of course, Australia and China’s issues didn’t just start with wine. Indeed, rising tensions between Australia and China are close to inevitable.

As reported by the BBC, the growing list of Chinese grievances includes “a 2018 decision to ban Huawei from its 5G tender, not recognizing China’s claim in the contested South China Sea, and supposed ‘wanton interference’ in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Taiwan.” Australia’s complaints about Chinese human rights abuses, as well as the fact it has openly aligned itself with India, Japan, and the United States in the “Quad” naval group, have also drawn ire from Beijing.

The relationship hit rock bottom with China announcing tariffs of Aussie barley as retaliation to Australia’s call for a global investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus. Recently, Chinese diplomats tweeted a repugnant doctored photo of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan kid, which was globally condemned.

Before the wine tariffs in question, China consumed around 40 percent of Australian wines. In 2019, for example, China bought more Australian bottles than it did from France. But a few weeks ago, Australia realized

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what trading with an antagonistic imperial power looks like as China instigated a crippling 212 percent tariff on Australian bottles.

It was a blow designed to expose the pitfalls of economic dependence on one power, something Europeans became quite familiar with regarding Chinese-manufactured PPE when COVID-19 started to ramp up its spread back in March. Currently, more than 60 ships are stuck in Chinese ports, unable to dock. As the Daily Mail reported, “Australian exporters have already felt the brunt of harsh tariffs, with one winemaker losing $240,000 ‘overnight’ due to canceled orders.”

In this scenario, every one of us has a duty, in the spirit of Christmas, to stick it to the Chicoms by buying Australian wine. Before one can argue about the economic potential of this, consider the fact that the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance has already made an official appeal to do this, in a way to show solidarity.

A group of over 200 members of parliament as well as politicians from 19 different countries, are standing up against what one Australian senator called “authoritarian bullying.” Over time, that call morphed into public defiance against China.

So, consider it in a sort of seasonal “lend-lease” spirit, that wherever you are located, for whatever reason you ideologically prefer — be it the queen, the Commonwealth, the Anglosphere, or democracy and freedom — this Christmas season, pour a glass of good Australian shiraz. If you’re serving lighter fare, go for a fine Australian sauvignon blanc.

It’s the least one can do, facing the coming days of a binary world divided once again between the two sides, of shires and meadows, and jackboots and tyranny.

Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK, and a senior contributor to The Federalist. His research is in great power-politics and neorealism. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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