The Guardian October 29, 2003


The US and China bring two options to Australia:
War and more war or peace and trade

Last week the Australian Parliament and the Australian people 
were presented with two entirely different perspectives and two 
virtually opposite courses of action.

The speech of President George W Bush was almost entirely devoted 
to war and was peppered with references to "murderers", 
"committed killers", "terrorists", "outlaw regimes", "weapons 
programs", and the glory of past wars. "Our nations must confront 
the immediate threat of proliferation. We are preparing to search 
planes, ships, trains and trucks carrying suspect cargo, to seize 
weapons or missiles shipments that raise proliferation concerns", 
said George Bush.

The speech by the President of the People's Republic of 
China(PRC), Hu Jintao, was devoted to peace, the development of 
trade and cultural exchanges.

"I am convinced that China and Australia will shape a 
relationship of all-round co-operation that features a high 
degree of mutual trust, long-term friendship and mutual benefit, 
a relationship that makes our two peoples both winners", said Hu 
Jintao. There was no talk of war.

In welcoming President Bush, John Howard, also drew upon past 
wars. He listed the supposed shared values of the US and 
Australia  the belief that the individual is more important 
than the state, that strong families are a nation's greatest 
asset, that competitive free enterprise is the ultimate 
foundation of national wealth, and that the worth of a person is 
determined by that person's character and hard work, not by their 
religion or race or colour or creed or social background.

Howard said: "Our two nations have fought in defence of those 
values". He listed joint Australia-US military campaigns 
beginning in 1918 up to the present day.

He had nothing to say about the principles which determine the 
Australian Government's foreign relations with other countries, 
no mention of the United Nations.

He welcomed Bush "as a standard-bearer for the values that we 
hold in common."

In welcoming President Hu Jintao the next day, John Howard was 
much more formal. While characterising the Australia-China 
relationship as "mature and practical", he dwelt on the fact that 
"We are different societies, we have different cultures, we have 
different traditions and we have different histories and no 
purpose is served in pretending otherwise".

Howard also attempted to pose as some sort of go-between in 
relations between the US and the People's Republic of China. He 
said, "Our aim is to see calm and constructive dialogue between 
the US and China on those issues which might potentially cause 
tension between them ."

However Howard failed to say that Australia believes that there 
is only one China and that Taiwan is a part of that one China, 
yet this is a main issue of contention between the US and the 
PRC.

Both Howard and Crean, who also had some words of welcome to both 
Bush and Hu, attempted to raise the issue of the alleged North 
Korean nuclear issue when introducing Hu Jintao. They are 
attempting to "line-up" the PRC Government to put pressure on the 
Democratic People's Republic of Korea. President Hu was not drawn 
on the issue and did not mention the DPRK in his statement.

The choices facing Australia could not have been presented more 
starkly than in the immense differences between the two addresses 
to the Australian Parliament. The choice of policy that 
Australian governments make now and in the future will determine 
whether Australia becomes a genuine partner on an equal basis 
with the countries of Asia or whether Australia remains no more 
than a mindless sheriff of the US doing its bidding against Asian 
countries.

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