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.