Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rudd presents a friendly face to China

China is already hugely important to Australia so this can only be good. Being myself Sinophilic, I am delighted that Australia will be so well-represented by our future Prime Minister. My only hope is that Rudd understands economics as well as he understands Mandarin. His Arts degree does not augur terribly well for that but former Labor PM Paul Keating developed a good understanding of economics despite no formal background in it so there is hope

MANDARIN-speaking Kevin Rudd stole the show from John Howard on the day Australia secured a $45 billion gas deal with China. The Labor leader stunned President Hu Jintao with a two-minute recounting of his personal history at an APEC lunch attended by a "who's who" of Australian business. Mr Rudd spoke of his life as a diplomat in China, his love for the booming country, and his family's close ties to the region. Just a day after Mr Howard tied his fortunes to George W. Bush and the US, Mr Rudd made it clear that the rising Asian superpower was the focus of his affection.

Speaking fluently to the Chinese leader in his own language, Mr Rudd upstaged Mr Howard's announcement of Australia's single biggest export contract. A former diplomat with many years' experience in Asia, Mr Rudd gave President Hu a personal history of his links to China, drawing on the experiences of his wife Therese, his daughter Jessica, and sons Nicholas and Marcus.

The speech began in English. Then, breaking into Mandarin, Mr Rudd said: "Together with my wife and little daughter, I went to work in Beijing in the 1980s. "My wife and I have a particular love for Beijing. We love the feeling of Beijing. We love the people of Beijing, and of course, its culture. "Twenty years later, the little girl that we took to Beijing this April married a young man from the Australian Chinese community. "My son has already been to Shanghai's Fundan University to study. I also have a little boy, our youngest, who is in his early years of high school. He is really, really naughty -- he doesn't like doing his homework. But he has already begun his study of Chinese."


US relationship still at core for Australia, says Rudd

AUSTRALIA'S strategic relationship with the US would remain core despite the growing relationship with China, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd said today. Mr Rudd, who met United States President George W. Bush yesterday and is to meet China's President Hu Jintao today, said today the relationships were important in different ways.

He said China was emerging as a key economic partner. "Our core strategic relationship will remain with the US. I am a life-long supporter of our alliance with America and that will continue into the future," he said on Southern Cross radio. "Our defence co-operation with the US is absolutely central to Australia's long-term national security. Intelligence sharing arrangements, defence procurement arrangements, joint exercising, combined with the fact that our respective defence forces have spent so many joint operations together over the years."

Mr Rudd said that at an economic level, China had been emerging over the last decade as a huge partner in Australia's future development. Both relationships could be managed well. "If we are elected to form the next government of Australia, I look forward to developing further not just a strong robust relationship with Washington but also to continue to expand our dealings with Beijing," he said.

Mr Rudd again declined to reveal the substance of his talks with the US president. But he made it clear Labor's policy for a staged withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq would not change and the relationship with the US would survive. "I am confident that our alliance with the US is old enough, broad enough and strong enough to sustain having disagreements from time to time," he said. Mr Rudd said he could work with Mr Bush and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice despite their friendships with John Howard. Mr Howard had been prime minister for 11 years and it would be surprising if he had not developed some personal friendships around the world. "If we are elected to form the next government of Australia then, of course, we would seek to develop relationships around at that personal level as well," he said. "I would look forward very much to working with the US administration, if I am elected, on a whole range of areas where we have common interests to pursue, particularly here in east Asia where there are continued challenges."

Mr Rudd said that included North Korea's nuclear weapons, China and Taiwan, tensions between China and Japan, and militant Islamism in South-East Asia. "These are all of great concern to Australia. They are areas where we would want to work in partnership with our American ally because I believe overwhelmingly that the US is a force for good and stability in the world," he said.


China loves Kyoto -- new climate plan sunk

I wonder why?

CHINA has dashed John Howard's hopes for an APEC deal on climate change, saying any new pact should be based on the Kyoto Protocol. Australia refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol. [Because Kyoto gives China free rein].

Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday rejected John Howard's call for developing nations to shoulder tougher greenhouse emissions targets. "Climate change is an environmental issue. But, ultimately, it is a development issue," Mr Hu said. "We should, within the context of sustainable development, uphold the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol as the core mechanism and main avenue of co-operation." The Kyoto Protocol allowed developing countries greater leeway on emissions targets, placing a higher burden on developed nations.

Australia and the United States - the only major polluters not to ratify Kyoto - want developing nations to shoulder tougher emissions reduction targets. Climate change was the key subject in talks between Mr Howard and Mr Hu. The Prime Minister had hoped to make concrete progress on climate change at the Sydney summit, ahead of a federal election campaign. However Mr Hu said that he supported the differing responsibilities allowed under the Kyoto pact.

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer admitted it would be hard to bring China - one of the biggest polluters in the world - into a new emissions reduction system. "It's one of the great challenges of diplomacy; I'm not too pessimistic about it, I think we can at least make some progress here," he said.

The impasse means any APEC statement on climate change is likely to be a general statement of intent, rather than a detailed action plan. Mr Hu said he hoped the Sydney declaration would "send a clear signal to the international community to show their strong will and common resolve in tackling climate change".


Totally dishonest "protesters" in Sydney

ARE these shouty protesters - and their sock puppets in the media - sure they've got the right guy in their sights? Let me check again what tomorrow's big Stop Bush 2007 rally outside Sydney's APEC meeting is demanding. Hmm. Foreign troops out. Defend workers' rights. Stop global warming.

And, indeed, at the APEC meeting is a president who really does occupy a foreign country, really does trample workers' rights and really does lead a country that now belches more greenhouse gases than any other. What's more, this president also runs a gulag, bans free speech, stacks courts, jails dissidents, executes crooks and leads a government even he admits is too corrupt. That's surely enough to tick the box of every protester in Sydney.

So here's the puzzle: why isn't tomorrow's protest called Stop Hu Jintao 2007 instead? Why do the protesters shout abuse at Bush, the elected president of democratic United States, but not boo Hu, the unelected president of communist China? Why did students this week stage a Walk Out on Bush, but stay at school for Hu? And why is the big-city media so savage against Bush, while writing headlines yesterday declaring "Hu is Australia's main man" and "Big welcome for China's leader"? None of it makes sense. What's Bush done that Hu hasn't done worse?

Under Bush, the US last year actually cut its greenhouse gases. Hu's China, though, is now the world leader, belching out more carbon dioxide every year, with no sign of slowing. Under Bush, US troops have liberated Iraq from a tyranny and are staying temporarily on the invitation of that country's elected government to keep that democracy safe.

Under Hu, China has just tightened its grip on occupied Tibet, this week demanding Beijing now approve all of Tibet's spiritual leaders. It has meanwhile propped up mad Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe and the genocidal one in Sudan and has threatened democratic Taiwan with war.

Bush isn't even a starter in any spot-the-tyrant game that includes Hu, whose country runs as many as 1000 forced labour camps, refuses to let even the Catholic Church operate openly, and last month even sent blogger He Weihua to a mental hospital for criticising local officials. So tough is Hu's regime on even foreign reporters that CNN's Beijing staff were last month stopped from reporting on media freedom in China. You'd think the media, at least, might conclude from this which of the two governments is its better friend.

Yet it's Bush, not Hu, who gets the mockery and open contempt of journalists and who is made out by protesters to be the Hitler of our times. Here's how weird is this cognitive dissonance. The Sydney Morning Herald, in its campaign to make Bush seem the nuisance who on his own whim forced a security shutdown of central Sydney, last week sought out the views even of the Communist Party of Australia. The CPA naturally obliged, huffing: "The APEC security fence that stretches through Sydney's CBD is a 'wall of shame' and undemocratic." That's brazen. You'd think anyone so upset by walls and keen on democracy would actually never have been a communist in the first place.

And you might also wonder why the Herald didn't at least note that this temporary fence to lock out violent protesters was being attacked by a party that once endorsed the Berlin Wall, built by a communist despot to lock up an entire population. But it's unfashionable even to mention "communism" as though it was a bad thing, or to note America was right to resist it then as it is right to resist Islamist fascism today.

That is a history that's erased from polite talk, and rarely taught to the children now wearing the bandannas of the Marxist Resistance group and chanting fierce slogans against capitalism and Bush. ("I pretty much disagree with everything that George Bush, like, represents," babbled one student on the ABC's PM show.)

Instead of holding old communists to account, our institutions honour them. Sydney University last year gave the CPA president, Hannah Middleton, a "community peace award" for working so hard to stop Australia from defending itself. Hu, too, is getting the warmest of welcomes. On his last visit, you'll recall, he got to address our Parliament in respectful silence, while Bush, in his own address the day before, was heckled by Greens leader Bob Brown. This time he has enjoyed a lavish dinner thrown for him by NSW Premier Morris Iemma and attended by every former Labor prime minister still alive. How grateful he was at being so honoured by the Left, saying: "I want to thank in particular Mr Whitlam, Mr Hawke and Mr Keating for attending tonight's dinner."

And how grateful he must be that journalists didn't feel such an aching desire to ridicule him that they inspected even his plate for something they could throw at his head. Contrast that with Bush having to watch his every mouthful at a barbecue held by the Prime Minister. The Sydney Morning Herald not only sent a snarky writer to check how he loaded his plate -- "I'll help you out, he told the reporter, "Here's your first sentence: 'The President takes a spoon. . .' " -- but got a health expert to whack him for eating so much meat. At a barbecue. Of all things.... so much of the rage against Bush is fundamentally insincere -- an affected hatred of much that the protesters actually would hate to go without. Like a teenager's rage against his parents.


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