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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

So much for Rudd's rapport with China

August 24, 2009

The Sunday Telegraph
August 23, 2009

THERE is no denying that the Rudd government has
exposed itself as a diplomatic dunce in its
dealings with China - and it has only itself to blame.

Long before Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was
elevated to his current status, he was
proclaiming his expertise in understanding the most populous nation on Earth.

It was not just his mastery of Mandarin that he
touted, but also his intellectual grasp of the
light and shade that plays through the internal
politics of the Communist Party leadership.

He committed himself and Australia to an
unrealistic and unworkable relationship.

In the beginning, it seemed that China's leaders
were prepared to play along with Rudd and the ALP.

The Chinese Consul-General in Sydney was active
in Maxine McKew's campaign in Bennelong and the
ALP raised no objections to the involvement of a
foreign government in Australia's domestic politics.

The Rudd family has built strong ties to China.
Rudd's elder brother, Greg, has moved his
business consultancy to Beijing, where he lives
with his son, Lachlan, who is part of the business.

Rudd's daughter Jessica and her Hong Kong-born
husband, Albert Tse - who also assisted on the
McKew campaign - are also working in Beijing.

All well and good; but, according to defenders of
the Rudd government, to raise any questions at
all about China is to play "dog-whistle'' politics.

Indeed, Indira Naidoo, an environmental disciple
of former US Vice-President Al Gore, went further
recently and claimed that it was "racist'' to
talk about China's broken record of human rights.

Interestingly, indications from Beijing are that
Rudd's claims and actions have confused the
Chinese. They don't know where he stands - unlike
the relationship the Chinese leadership had with former Prime Minister John

Howard, in which the Chinese were never in doubt about their role.

Part of the problem is Rudd's insistence that he
run the Foreign Affairs Department from his
office, leaving Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to
hover on the fringes, waiting to know what he should be saying.

Another part of the problem is that the Rudd
government has sent contrary signals to the
Chinese about how far they can extend their influence in Australia.

Whether it is its diplomats or members of the
Chinese diaspora, China is not unwilling to use
them as its agents and spies abroad and it is not
averse to applying pressure on family members who
remain at home, to ensure that overseas Chinese comply with its wishes.

Most Western governments would have rejected
foreign diplomats playing a part in a domestic
election campaign, but as the Chinese were
supporting a Labor candidate, nothing was said.

Most Western nations might have told the Chinese
Government that itsembassy's involvement in
ensuring counter-demonstrations to human rights
protesters during the running of the Olympic
torch relay through the streets of the nation's capital would not be permitted.

The Rudd Labor government and the ACT's Labor
government under Chief Minister Jon Stanhope let
Chinese thugs largely have their way.

So, when the Rudd government actually said
something about the Chinese handling of Tibet or
permitted a Uighur leader to enter the country
for a speaking engagement at the National Press Club, the Chinese got confused.

China wants to be treated as a modern nation, but
it remains a feudal totalitarian fiefdom that is
no closer to democracy now than it was when Mao
died; and, as much as former Labor Prime Minister
Gough Whitlam and his adoring acolytes may have
worshipped Mao, he remains one of the most brutal figures in modern politics.

That China is a customer for our iron ore and
uranium is neither here nor there. That the Rudd
Labor government prefers to sell China uranium,
while withholding it from India, is a concern,
though, and indicates discrimination against a
democratic nation with which Australia shares a
common language, sporting ties and a tradition of common law.

Nothing, including the legal system in China,
operates without deference to the Communist
Party, no matter how much the Rudd government
attempts to claim that business and politics are separate.

There is no separation of powers in China: those
who hold significant influence in government also
hold senior positions in business enterprises.

China is an authoritarian state, not a democracy,
and that simple fact should not be forgotten.

Of course, Australia wants to dobusiness with
China, as we want to do business with everyone;
but the reality is that sometimes we will have to
hold our noses while we conduct that business with some regimes.

China's repeated violations of its citizens'
basic human rights don't go unnoticed and nor
should they; but it is up to our government to
tiptoe through the pitfalls of diplomacy as it
handles the contradictions between sound business
relations and principled foreign relations.

Rudd, the former junior diplomat, doesn't know the difference.

He's just so excited to be invited to meetings of
national leaders that hecan't differentiate
between China's frightening dragon face and China's cuddly panda image.

It's not necessary to confuse China: we have
different values, but a shared interest in trade.

We should not let the Chinese force us to sell
out our principles as a precondition to our business.
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