Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 13:12 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 13:12 | SYDNEY

China still hard to love


Fergus Hanson


5 May 2008 14:47

In the Weekend Australian, Greg Sheridan wrote:

The China obsession of the Rudd Government, and especially of the PM himself, has alarmed leaders in India, Japan and Southeast Asia, who fear Australia is reorienting its foreign policy to an unbalanced stress on China.

There has been a lot of this sort of talk since the Western world’s first Mandarin-speaking PM was elected. While Rudd may be well placed to build Australia’s relationship with China, before getting too carried away, consider three recent Chinese actions which must have driven the PM mad.

Exhibit A: Each time the Rudd Government insisted the thuggish torch relay flame attendants were going to play no part in the security of the torch, the Chinese contradicted it, right up until the relay itself. For a Chinese government supposedly about to benefit from a Mandarin-speaking leader who finally understands them, this was an unusual way to keep on his good side.

Exhibit B: Thanks to the crackdown in Tibet, Rudd’s opportunity to set a new course for the Australia-China relationship during his first official visit was lost. The focus of his trip instead had to be criticising China for its rights abuses. Sure, this stand helped boost Rudd’s image but it scuttled his plans to return with an elevated relationship with China.

Exhibit C: Just as the West readies itself to weigh into the Zimbabwe debacle, news emerges of a Chinese arms shipment on its way to Mugabe. 

All of this just highlights the fact the China isn’t the easiest country to deal with. So it seems a little hasty to assume PM Rudd is about to ditch long-time allies like Japan for a testing China.