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AUSTRALIA: Keating condemns 'elitist' coverage

August 28, 2008

Former prime minister Keating says Western media covered the Beijing
Olympics "with condescension and concessional tolerance"
By Stephanie Peatling
The Age (Australia)
August 25, 2008

THE former prime minister Paul Keating has attacked the Western
media's coverage of the Beijing Olympics as condescending, elitist
and typical of the developed world's general disdain for China.

Most of the coverage was seen through the prism of Tibet, Mr Keating
told the Melbourne Writers' Festival at the weekend, and disregarded
the "massive leaps" forward in areas such as poverty alleviation and
declining infant mortality.

"In a Western and elitist way, we have viewed China's right to its
Olympic Games, to its 'coming out', its moment of glory, with
condescension and concessional tolerance," Mr Keating said.

"The Western critic, feeling the epicentre of the world changing but
not at all liking it, seeks to put down these vast societies on the
basis that their political and value systems don't match up to theirs."

In a wide-ranging speech on foreign policy, Mr Keating was critical
of the lack of action taken by the world in getting rid of nuclear
weapons, saying proliferation was the "single most immediate threat
hanging over the world today".

Mr Keating joined those critical of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, saying it was "perhaps the most egregious example of
international double dealing of any international regime".

"The plain fact is, there can be no non-proliferation without
de-proliferation," he said.

"If the weapon states are not prepared to rid themselves of nuclear
weapons, why would other states continue to deny themselves the kind
of leverage that these weapons bring?"

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was also critical of the treaty
earlier this year.

On a visit to Japan in June, he announced his plans to stimulate
efforts to curb the growth of nuclear weapons and push for eventual
nuclear disarmament through the establishment of a new international
commission to be led by Japan and Australia.

The new commission will be co-chaired by the former Labor foreign
affairs minister Gareth Evans.

It will examine ways to strengthen the provisions of the 40-year-old
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty before it undergoes its next
five-yearly review, in 2010.

The commission is modelled on the Canberra Commission, which was
established in the dying days of Mr Keating's government.

Although the "bipolar" period of the Cold War was over, Mr Keating
said the world would continue to be dominated by the United States
and China, with Russia playing a big but not equal part.

Mr Keating was critical of the US President, George Bush, and his
predecessor, Bill Clinton, saying the past 16 years had been wasted.
He also said the former British prime minister Tony Blair and the
former French president Jacques Chirac had stood by and allowed the
US to dictate international foreign policy.

"We are now sitting through, witnessing, the eclipse of American
power," Mr Keating said.
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