Thoughts on Keating

A voice of wisdom on China, from elder statesman Paul Keating

15 September 2021 | CCCA (Image: Wheeler Centre)

Paul Keating, the successor to Labor’s longest-serving prime minister Bob Hawke, is a known for his vision, colourful and flamboyant statements made as Treasurer and later PM of Australia.

Paul Keating – 60 Minutes profile (1992) 

Since 1972, four prime ministers—Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating—have shown themselves to be progressive leaders whose statesmanship helps make Australia great. 

Having had the privilege to meet with them and inspire by them in our younger days, we admire their combined intellect and political wisdom which have laid the good foundation for our most successful modern multicultural Australia which is now the envy of the world.

Great to see the surviving PM Keating still has his unique sharp opinion published earlier this month in an Australian Financial Review feature article Morrison leading Australia into a dead end on China: Keating.

In our previous commentaries, we discussed how the relation between China soured after a long honeymoon period between 1972-2016.  We also discussed how the marriage between Australia and China ended in divorce and presented some scenarios how the relations could be patched up and how difficult it is to repair the relations.  

Keating has emerged in the front line, and without mincing words, he has been busy “pulling the levers” in public. and was critical of both the government and opposition on Australia-China relations.  

Highlights of Keating statements may be summarized: 

  • The public discourse about China had markedly degenerated based on the perception that the rise of China was illegitimate and explicitly to disquiet about the fact that China is not a democracy. Pax Americana is not the natural order of things,”  
  • Being “starry-eyed” about democracies at the expense of a holistic view of national interests would have “lost us the Second World War”, and refuted the “mistaken view” that Chinese innovation was the product of intellectual property theft. 
  • Australia is a continent sharing a border with no other state. It has no territorial disputes with China. Indeed, China is 12 flying hours away from the Australian coast, yet the government, both through its foreign policy incompetence and fawning compulsion to please America, effectively has us in a cold war with China,”  
  • The United States, with its insistence on a “democratic formula”, remains the “most ideological” superpower, and that China instead sees its legitimacy rooted in ethnic and geopolitical terms. 
  • This (China) is not the Soviet Union and the media for trafficking in “hysteria” and focusing on “side-plays, dressed up in the cosmetics of sedition and risk 

The last point about the effect of the western media is further illustrated by John Menadue in his article “White Man’s Media: Legacy media in the US and UK frames and conditions our thinking and actions”, where he wrote: 

Most political colonies have come to an end. But a colonial mind set continues in the media. That colonial media mind set in turn promotes a ‘colonisation of the mind’. 

The US Department of Defence maintains, in its own words ‘full spectrum dominance’ throughout the world.  Legacy media in the US and the UK has the same dominance . It frames and influences how we think and particularly how governments act. 

The reader is recommended to read the full text of Paul Keating’s statements on China for a better appreciation. 

 A comprehensive commentary in Paul Keating’s opinion piece & analysis can be found in article Dungeons and dragons: The China threat fiction by Marcus Reubenstein Sep 8, 2021. He writes, China is an increasingly authoritarian state, actively asserting its will regionally and within its own borders giving rise to a dangerous fiction. It is sensible policy for Australia to be wary of Chinas rise and were appropriate, hold China to account for its actions.  However, there is no evidence that China’s endgame is to pose a military threat to Australia. 

Australia has followed blindly the US in every war for last 70 years Since 2016, Australia has used the Cold War strategy to discredit China by the right-wing politicians, academics, think tanks and journalists – who are remunerated for personal gain. The sad consequence is the destruction of Australia’s most important relation with China trade and all. If war erupts between US and China, Australia will not only lose exports and imports from China but potentially other Asian countries as they all are tied to China, economy and all.

The whole country will sink straight away into deep depression and despair. The whole world will not be spared either.

Two years ago, Keating gave his Labor party a tongue lashing in another feature article published in the Australian Financial Review.  

Hopefully, ordinary Australians would heed the advice of an elderly statesman and stand up to protect our national interests at heart, and convince the government of the day to uphold constructive diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations with mutual respect and understanding; agree to disagree on differences and seek common cooperation for win-win peaceful coexistence. Be a peace maker and has some independent role for Australia in the Asia Pacific and not war monger.

We are very pleased to see US President Biden has taken the initiative to have a dialogue with China President Xi on 10 September 2021. Wise words to remember are: “competition yes, conflict no” and “peaceful co-existence yes, war no”.

Principal authors, Tony Pun and Dr Ka Sing Chua. This commentary is supplied by the Chinese Community Council of Australia Incorporated: Founding President, Dr Anthony Pun OAM, President, Mr Kingsley Liu. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.

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