BETWEEN FOUR WORLDS: CHINA, RUSSIA, JAPAN AND AUSTRALIA;

BETWEEN FOUR CAREERS: DIPLOMAT, ECONOMIST, JOURNALIST AND JAPANOLOGIST;

BETWEEN FOUR LANGUAGES: ENGLISH, CHINESE, RUSSIAN AND JAPANESE

Chapter 7a

CHINA, AUSTRALIA AND THE PING-PONG DIPLOMACY – 1971-74
(Chinese Translation)

1. Organising a Ping-pong Team to China

2. Taking a Ping-pong Team into China

3. China and Australia


Accidentally Joining the Ping-pong Diplomacy


1971. The moderates in China led by Premier Zhou Enlai have been able to stage something of a comeback against the Cultural Revolution fanatics.

Zhou was searching for a way to open ties to the outside world without inviting reprisals from the still active Gang of Four radicals.

Inviting ping-pong players from around the world to visit China was his solution, and it succeeded.

One result was to put an end to the decades of harmful isolation policies imposed on China by the US, Japan, Australia and a host of other Cold War worthies.

Another was that I would suddenly be propelled into China - a China that was still struggling to overcome the harm caused by decades of insane domestic policies.


1. Organising a Ping-pong Team to China

The story begins with me in Tokyo in the cold, wet spring of 1971.

We have already had wind that something involving China will happen at the world table tennis championships being held in Nagoya in April of that year.

The championships get underway and we soon discover that all the participating teams will be invited to visit China after the championships have ended.

Even the Americans have been invited.

But for some reason there is no word of an Australian team being invited.

No Ping-pong Diplomacy for Australia?

I, and presumably the other Australian journalists in Tokyo, set out urgently to contact a Dr (medical) Jackson, the manager for the Australian team to the championships.

My secretary locates him eventually, and by complete chance. He is visiting a factory on the outskirts of Nagoya.

Over a shaky phone connection I ask him the all-important question - has the Australian team also been invited to go to China?

After all, if even a US team has been invited, and has accepted, and Washington has given approval, then an Australian team should also be going.

Jackson simply says that for some reason there was no invite for the Australian team.

In any case, he and his team had already planned to do some travel and training in Japan, and to visit Taiwan after that.

China is not on their itinerary.

I have to assume he is telling the truth (why would any self-respecting team want to pass up the chance to go to China?)

Maybe Australia has been ignored because its anti-Beijing policies are even more strident and virulent than Washington’s.

Even so, it is a mystery.

The Mystery Unravels

But I am reluctant to give up on the story.

After all, it involves China and China is still very much on my mind.

I suggest he call me if and when his travels bring him to Tokyo.

Sure enough, a week later he rings. He is at Tokyo Station and needs to find a place to stay, and it has to be cheap.

I give him the address of a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) and suggest he check it out.

An hour later he is back on the phone.

He is at the ryokan and they are insisting that he has to sleep on straw mats. He wants a hotel, not a horse stable.

By this time it is early evening. Finding somewhere else cheap to stay in Tokyo on a rainy night will not be easy. Reluctantly I say he can stay at my place instead.

He shows up accompanied by the Number One Australian lady player in his team - a 16 year old.

A menage a trois gets underway.

He and the 16 year old are camped in a Western-style bedroom at one end of my Waseda condo.

I am sleeping on straw mats at the other end.

We meet occasionally over breakfast.


Jackson discovers Ping-pong Diplomacy


Sometime, around about day four, I tell him what a pity it was they did not get the invitation to go to China like everyone else did at Nagoya.

He asks why the pity.

I pass across that morning's Japan Times. It has a large front-page photo of the US team in Beijing, shaking hands with premier Zhou Enlai in the Great Hall of the People.

The paper says the whole world is being shaken by the event.

I tell him how if he had got an invitation, he and his team could have been part of the global sensation.

Jackson’s eyes narrow.

To this date he has known nothing about what has been happening to the other teams visiting China. He has not even heard about the onset of something being called ping-pong diplomacy.

He did not even know there were English language newspapers in Japan which could tell him about such things.

A conversation gets underway.

He (pointing to the photo): "That’s the manager of the US team. I know him well.”

Me: “Well, you could be there with him, on the front page too, if you had been invited to go to China.”

His eyes narrow again.

He: “But to tell the truth, Greg, I was invited to go to China."

Me: "What! You were invited to China and you did not go? Why?"

He: "Because the Australian government had insisted that we visit Taiwan after Nagoya."

(It turns out that Canberra, like Washington, had had advance notice that the Chinese would be handing out invitations at Nagoya.)

( But unlike Washington, Canberra was determined to avoid any contact whatsoever with the evil Chinese communists. So it had arranged, through the Taiwan Embassy in Canberra, for the team to go to Taiwan immediately after the championships.)

Me: "But you didn’t go to Taiwan."

He: "Right. The team broke up after Nagoya. Some were invited to go to Tokyo to practice with top Japanese players. The rest went back to Australia."

Me: "You mean, you turned down this Chinese invitation just because you were supposed to go to Taiwan, and you have not gone to Taiwan anyway?"

He, sheepishly: "Well, yes. When we got the invite to go to China I had no choice but to say no. The Canberra people had arranged everything for us, including visas, to go to Taiwan"

Me: "Would you like to go to China now that you are not going to Taiwan?"

He: "Well yes. But I have no idea where the other team members are now - except her, of course (the 16 year-old). In any case, surely it is too late now to go to China?"

Me: "No matter. China is very serious about this ping-pong diplomacy. It wants as many teams to visit as possible.

I will check for you whether the Beijing invitation is still alive. You can decide what to do later."

He: "Fair enough"

I get from him the name of the Chinese sports organisation that had invited him, and head straight to the local telegraph office.

(I also contact the Australian embassy in Tokyo to find out whether Canberra would move to prevent a China visit. They come back to me studiously neutral.)

I send a telegram to Beijing in his name, saying he now wants to accept the invitation, that he will get his team together, and that he wants one Gregory Clark to cover the visit.

That very evening a message comes back from Beijing inviting him to bring his team as soon as possible, all expenses paid, and for one Gregory Clark to go with the team.

For me, who has spent years trying to get to China, the euphoria is boundless.

No Team, And No Money

But there are two major problems.

One: Dr Jackson has no team to take to China.

No team, and I lose my long awaited chance to go to China.

I also lose the scoop I am planning to send Sydney about the team going to China (the other Australian journalists in Tokyo have no idea of what is going on).

Two: But even if he had a team they have no money.

The only route into China in those primitive days was across the Lo Wu border post outside Hongkong. Beijing is only paying expenses from Hongkong and around China.

If the team wants to go to China they will have to pay the Tokyo to Hongkong leg of the trip from their own pockets, which are already bare from the expense of traveling around Japan.

I have to find solutions, quickly.

First, find your Ping-pong Team

The next day my secretary makes a frantic telephone search of Tokyo's dark, dingy ping-pong halls.

She is asking whether there are any Australian team members there.

We locate three of them.

The 16 year old is sent out to tell them to pack their bags for a trip to Hongkong, and China.

Meanwhile in deep secrecy I have told Deamer at The Australian head-office in Sydney what I am doing.

Can the paper come up with the fares to Hongkong? If they do, I can give them a world-shattering scoop.

Deamer comes back very quickly saying yes.

But the 16 year old comes back saying no. The team members do not want to go to China (where's China, one was reported to have asked?).

They much prefer to stay hitting ping-pong balls all day with Japanese players in those dark, sweaty table-tennis halls.

Jackson into Hongkong

What to do?

I have already promised Sydney a scoop.

So I tell Jackson to go to Hongkong, talk to the Chinese there, and get permission for himself to go into China as advance guard to arrange a future table tennis tour for Australian players, hopefully brought up from Australia.

That way I will at least get the basis of a mini-scoop reporting the ‘Jackson initiative.’.

But my mini-scoop, run fairly low key in The Australian the next morning, has alerted the world to the fact that the good Dr Jackson is in Hongkong.

The ping-pong diplomacy excitement has gathered even greater momentum. The world is beating a path to China’s door.

A visit by any team, even a hastily assembled Australian team, is going to be big news.

Even the Ecuadorians are in the headlines for sending a team!

And sure enough, in just a few hours the Hongkong press have tracked Dr Jackson down to his Hongkong hotel (the Hongkong media get hold of hotel guest name lists as easily and you and I get names from a telephone directory.)

They are beating a path to
his door.

Jackson rings me in panic.

Not only has his room been discovered (I can actually hear the journalists banging on his door). Even worse is the fact that Beijing’s office in Hongkong have told him they are not interested in any advance guard nonsense.

He has to have a team ready to go to China, and immediately.

And, Jackson adds, since his trip to Hongkong was my brilliant idea, I have to get that team together, and get it down to Hongkong, immediately.

The Ogimura Connection

At this point I recall that the man who gave the Australian team members the invite to play in Tokyo after Nagoya is none other than Japan's table tennis association chief, Ogimura Ichiro.

Ogimura is famous for all he has done in the past to promote sporting ties with China.

I tell myself that if Ogimura knew about my problem, he will agree to tell the Australian players how important it is that they stop their training in Japan, and go to China.

The scheme works.

24 hours later I have a team.

Or rather, a sort of a team — the buxom 16 year old and two more (one other has decided he does not want to go to China anyway).

As we clamber aboard the last plane to Hongkong that day, I am handing down to my secretary on the gangplank the last page of my second, and this time hopefully more accurate, scoop.

Four hours later we are landing at Hongkong's Kai Tak airport.

Officials from Beijing’s Hongkong office are there to meet us.

I spend the evening with a bunch of excited journalists at the Hongkong press club, all trying to grab details of the scoop I have already sent for tomorrow’s paper.

The next morning Dr Jackson, three bleary eyed Australian table tennis players, and two Australian journalists (myself included), are standing at the Lo Wu crossing, waiting to get into China.

(The other journalist, Vince, is from the very conservative and anti-communist Melbourne Herald.)

(He, rather than a journalist from the less rightwing Fairfax group, has probably been invited because Melbourne hosts the miniscule pro-Beijing faction of the miniscule Australian Communist Party, and Beijing no doubt sees Melbourne as a center of keen pro-Beijing sentiment.)

2. Taking a Ping-pong Team Into China

But my problems are still not over.

We have handed over our passports. But for some reason we are all left standing in the hot sun at the Lo Wu frontier for some hours. Why?

Eventually a stern-faced guard emerges to tell us that we cannot go to China.

The players all have unused Taiwan visas in their passports. And I have a used visa.

Taiwan is the enemy of the Chinese people. People with visas to visit the territory of that enemy regime cannot be allowed into China.

Only Vince can be allowed in. He does not have the offending Taiwan visa.

I invent some excuse for the visas, and emphasise the importance of our mission.

Eventually after calls to and from the Beijing office back in Hongkong, we are allowed in. As we board the train for Canton (as it used to called in English in those politically non-correct days; today it has its proper name of Guangzhou) I can barely contain the excitment.

True, as we are waiting to board the train we meet some dazed Latin Americans coming out of China.

Their impression of China? ‘Six weeks, one song’ one of them says unhappily.

But even this does not worry me.

After a decade of flitting around the periphery of China - the nation whose language I have studied with such difficulty, and whose policies I have researched and have defended to some extent - I am finally being allowed to board a slow train headed for the Middle Kingdom.

The emotion is something large.

Into Canton

At Canton we are met by a small delegation of boiler-plate communist officials.

Fortunately, it includes a Mr Yu (the ‘Yu’ means ‘fish’) - a youngish, sophisticated official sent down from Peking especially by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to look after us.

We are taken to the famous Dongfang Hotel - the main hotel in Canton for welcoming foreign guests.

The hotel lodges most of the thousands of foreigners who pour into the town each year for the Canton Fair, China’s one point of commercial contact with the outside world.

Being put in such a prestigous hotel means the Chinese realise the political importance of our visit, I tell myself.



But the self-satisfaction will not last long.

At the hotel post office we find that Beijing has not yet organized press accreditation for myself and Vince.

So if I want to cable the story my newspaper wants so badly — “First Australian Journalist into China since 1949” - it will cost one US dollar a word, and I will have to pay before midnight.

I don’t have much money on me and it is too late to go to the bank. So I can do no more than file a brief story saying that we are all in China, that we are part of the historic ping-pong diplomacy, and that the first breach in the wall of traditional Australian hostility to China has been made.

But Vince is much more aggressive.

He has little interest in things like the global significance of ping-pong diplomacy.

Instead, his first story out of China is a 3,000 word opus on the welcome we have been receiving, and saying that the girls look nice beneath their Mao costumes, that the food is splendid, and that the beer tastes good.

Unfortunately, he does not have the 3,000 dollars needed to send this opus back to Melbourne.

He tells the cable office he will pay later, and heads for the bedroom I have to share with him.

We are both exhausted. I have hardly slept for the past three days.

Radical Students

As we lie prostrate in the sticky south China heat, I hear a frantic knocking on the door.

It is exactly midnight.

A group of angry young radicals (descendants of the Red Guards perhaps) pours in through the unlocked door. Vince still has not paid his bill, and they want to know why.

Needless to say, the youths are speaking in Chinese, and very rapid Chinese at that. It all passes over Vince's Chinese-illiterate head.

The radical youths get even angrier, and try to pull him out of bed. I have to intervene.

I say that it is not Vince's fault he cannot pay his bills since Beijing has still not arranged the Press cards that guarantee our newspapers will pay bills. Besides, Chairman Mao has instructed the young radicals to serve the people, and they clearly are not doing anything to serve Vince.

The radicals are not impressed, especially by my attempt to drag Chairman Mao into the argument.

But they realize there is nothing they can do about the semi-comatose, Vince. They leave, swearing vengeance.

Expulsion from Canton?

The next morning when I go down to breakfast I can sense that the meet-and-greet friendliness of the night before has evaporated.

Indeed, the officials of the night before are now viewing me with intense loathing and silence.

With them is Mr Fish, and he is looking very worried.

Yu takes me aside.

In a low and serious voice he says that he and the officials have been up all night dealing with those young radicals.

They have been demanding my immediate expulsion from China for unacceptable behavior – the defamation of Chairman Mao especially (no mention of the true culprit, Vince).

Only after six hours of intense all-night debate was Yu, the diplomat as ever, able finally to persuade the fanatics to allow me to stay.

But only if I make an apology.




I try to take stock for a moment.

I have spent much of my adult life learning Chinese, writing a book explaining Chinese foreign policies, thinking about China, defending China from insults.

What’s more I have defied my own government and single-handedly organized the ping-pong team China wants so badly to visit.

And then when I finally get to China, I discover there are some people there who want me expelled on my first evening.

Just brilliant.

But I stomach my pride and do what Mr Yu says.

I am allowed to stay in China.

Watching Ping-pong, Around China.

After an exhibition table tennis match in Canton we set out for Shanghai.

On the plane is a delegation of American women led by Shirley MacLaine.

They have come to learn about the liberation of Chinese women.

The first Chinese woman they meet is a timid stewardess on the plane. They beg her to tell them about her liberation.

She does not have much to say. In fact, she does not want to say anything.

She is clearly terrified by these large, dominating, liberated American females




Shanghai is not much better than Canton - disheveled crowds, slogans everywhere, somber hotels.

One evening I am watching yet another boring ping-pong marathon when Mr Yu comes up and says he has some good news for me.

A fellow Australian journalist will be joining us from Tokyo.

It is a Mr Ssu, a Mr Ssu... He repeats the name often, trying to get the right pronunciation. His Shanghai accent does not help.

But he needs say no more. I have already guessed. Mr Ssu can be no other than Max Suich.

Suich is the Fairfax representative in Tokyo, and he has been badly scooped.

Not only did I nobble the Australian team from under his nose in Tokyo, but I also managed to get it out of Tokyo and into Hongkong without him or any other Australian journalist realising that something was afoot.

It was a classic, old-fashioned scoop, executed in a manner that the old-timers especially would appreciate.

But Suich’s Sydney bosses are not impressed. He has to do something to match me, or else.

They need not have worried. The highly-competitive Suich is already on the move.

From the moment my story has hit the news stands, he has been on the phone to Beijing daily, demanding a visa for the Fairfax group of papers.

After a week of constant calls, Beijing relents.

And when he does get the visa, he not only flies direct to Beijing a day or two before we arrive. He even tries to scoop me.

He sends off a story telling the world that he is the first legitimate Australian journalist to arrive in the Chinese capital since the 1949 revolution.

(Wilfred Burchett, of course, has been there before him, but Burchett is not ‘legitimate.’)

Dateline Beijing

Arriving in Beijing, we are given the welcome usually reserved for potentates from African countries seen friendly to China.

There is a large official banquet, with Dr Jackson as the chief guest. The next day we are taken to the Great Hall of the People to meet none other than Premier Zhou Enlai.

I still have a photo of the little-known doctor from South Australia being welcomed by the prime minister of the world’s largest nation.

I also have a very faded photo of myself meeting Zhou.

He is looking straight at me. I am bowing slightly, Japanese style.


April 1971 - Beijing


I come away from the meeting with two lasting impressions.

One is the cracks in the wall of the hastily built Great Hall.

The other is something others have written about - Zhou's extraordinarily magnetic presence.

You have the feeling that this is a man of depth and intelligence, who has known power, and suffering, and has had to come to terms with both.

More Problems

Meeting Zhou is one thing. Dealing with his citizens in those frantic Cultural Revolution days is another.

I move quickly from the sublime to the ridiculous.

It begins the next day, when our little band of news-people (by now some Australian TV people have also arrived) head for the main Peking table tennis stadium to see a match with the Chinese national team.

It is an important match, and we assume we do not need tickets to see it – that our journalist credentials are enough.

But a guard says no tickets, no entry. And he is very determined.

Once again it is left to me as the sole Chinese speaker to sort things out.

I ask the guard his name - it is Zhang.

I tell him that we have come all the way from Australia to see this match, and now we will all have to go all the way back, empty handed.

And when we get back we will all write stories about how a Mr Zhang stopped us from reporting on this great and historic match.

Does he realise the terrible damage that will be done to good relations between the great Chinese people and the great Australian people? Does he realize he will be directly responsible for that damage?

Mr Zhang lets us in, reluctantly. But there will soon be repercussions.

The match over (I forget who won, but the Chinese are usually doing all they can to make sure the Australians win sometimes), I am in a taxi with Suich heading for the Chinese Foreign Ministry where we are supposed to make a formal visit to present our credentials.

Suich stops the car to photograph some Chinese slum children (the Fairfax papers love that kind of photo).

In those days photographing slum scenes was tantamount to slandering the great Chinese people. An angry policeman emerges to demand that Suich hand over the camera and that he go to a nearby police station for questioning.

Once again it is left to me to do the explaining.

I rehash much of the same indignation I had given Mr. Zhang earlier.

Eventually we are allowed to go, but again there will be repercussions, and soon.

team
The Australian table tennis team in Beijing. Raised hand is Dr John Jackson

At the Chinese Foreign Ministry

Arriving at the Ministry we are ushered into an impressive room and told to wait. The official handling Australian affairs will greet us.

Meanwhile I am imagining how the official will soon enter the room, and single me out for a special greeting as the one Australian in the group who has learned the Chinese language, who has defended China in the past, who has done so much to get the team to China, and who has defied a virulently anti-Beijing Canberra in the process.

The Chinese authorities must know about all that, and be grateful.

How wrong can you be.

Eventually a very stern-faced official does enter the room and he does single me out.

But it is not to offer me praise or thanks.

He says the Ministry has just received reports from a Mr Zhang and an unnamed policeman claiming that a Chinese-speaking Australian journalist has been behaving in ways insulting to the great Chinese people.

Is that person you, Mr Clark?

I mumble something about being misunderstood, and watch on as the official turns to welcome all the other journalists, warmly.

He congratulates them on having opened the door between China and Australia.

I am left standing in a corner.

It was my first lesson in how narrow and self-centered Chinese attitudes to the outside world can be.

3: China and Australia

As it turns out, our ping-pong visit does help to open the doors between China and Australia.

But some rather unpleasant people will do all they can to make sure I do not pass through those doors.

Wheat Diplomacy

On the last day of our Beijing visit, Suich, Vince and myself are invited to a farewell banquet organized by the Foreign Ministry.

It is to give us something myself and Suich have been asking for - a formal briefing on the state of Australia-China relations.

In careful, measured tones we are told how China might find it very hard to continue to buy wheat from Australia if Canberra persists in its hostile, anti-Beijing policies.

Indeed, and in future, China might be inclined to buy much more of its wheat from Canada, which is much friendlier to China.

Suich and myself have no problem realizing the importance of the message we were receiving. Vince is more cynical.

“Typical communist propaganda,” he sniffs as we all go off to file our stories.




But later Vince is to give me a quote I have used often in connection with news writing.

Early on the morning after the banquet, Yu calls on us to make sure we had got the message from the night before, and to give us some extra material on Beijing’s determination to exclude Australia from future wheat purchases.

Suich and I have already filed our stories from the night before. But delayed deadlines mean we have the chance to re-file.

(Vince was still in bed and missed the Yu briefing as I recall.)

On the way to the airport that morning, myself and Suich are frantically trying to rewrite our earlier stories. Vince looks on with mild contempt.

“ The first rule of good journalism,” he says sagely, “is to get your stories right from the beginning. That way you won’t have to re-write.”

It is good rule (in circumstances other than that morning) , and I admire people who can keep to it.

Sadly, I am a chronic re-writer.

The Australian Reaction

Needless to say, our ‘Peking Threatens Wheat Ban’ stories ran prominently in the Australian newspapers the next day (though Vince’s story, predictably, had been more about the food at the banquet).

Equally predictably, Canberra’s conservative Liberal-Country Party government was greatly upset.

No wheat sales and the Country Party coalition partner would have to face some very angry supporters.

Up till then it had been trying to claim that the wheat deals were quite separate from, and unharmed by, its anti-Beijing stance.

Our reports would have been a major embarrassment for them.

Indeed, the very fact of our visit had already embarrassed them, thanks to the enormous publicity it was getting in the media.

On May 11, even as our ping-pong visit was underway, Foreign Affairs announced it was making a review of relations with China.

Foreign Affairs had long been at the head of Canberra’s anti-Beijing offensive. Its volte-face was significant, especially since it had also been the prime mover in trying to get the ping-pong team to go to Taiwan rather than to China.

The Whitlam Connection

Realising that big things were happening, the senior Labor party official, Mick Young, decided to set about organising a visit to Beijing for the ALP leader, Gough Whitlam.

That would make life even more difficult for the ruling anti-Beijing conservatives in Canberra, he hoped.

One of his first moves was to ring me when I got back to Tokyo to confirm the wheat ban story and to find out what kind of reception Whitlam would receive.

He added that Whitlam was very hesitant about making this visit into hostile territory, and needed all the assurance he could get.

(Mick's links with China went back to his years as a very leftwing trade union representative very welcome in China as a result. I had got to know him quite well through Walsh and Menadue in Canberra, and in Tokyo on his trips in and out of China.)

(As someone who had worked his way up from the sheep shearing sheds of South Australia, he had a great sensitivity to the way human beings behaved. His deep popularity within the ALP and across a broad spectrum of Australian society was no accident.)

(He once gave me an insight which I have often used to great effect in my writing about Japan.)

(This was the fact that in Japan, despite its alleged feudalistic class distinctions, he sensed little hint of class difference between company drivers and their elite passengers. But in China, despite its claimed egalitarianism, drivers behaved with inferiority.)

Thanks to Mick's efforts, the Whitlam visit went ahead in July of that year, three months after our ping-pong visit. It was clearly aimed to cash in on the publicity being given to China in Australia as a result of our visit.

Another aim of the Whitlam visit was to follow up on our wheat story, to prove that Canberra's anti-Beijing policies were indeed likely to do great harm to Australia's rural industries.

It culminated in an historic meeting with Zhou Enlai, whom we had met a few months earlier, and also in the Great Hall of the People.

The Whitlam visit got good publicity back in Australia, though the usual gaggle of rightwing journalists from Fairfax and the Melbourne Herald tried to make something of the fact that Whitlam had been unduly deferential in his meeting with Zhou Enlai (by their logic he should have used the meeting to lecture the Chinese on the evils of their communist ways, it seems).

Back in Canberra, the LCP government of the very forgettable Billie McMahon tried to score anti-China points by saying that Zhou had played Whitlam 'like a trout.'

Bad move, Billie.

Just a day or two later the world discovers that at almost the same moment the 'trout' had visited Beijing, Henry Kissinger was making his own very secret and momentous visit to Beijing - to organize a visit by Richard Nixon in February the next year.

The ‘Trout’ Turns

Whitlam had decided to return to Australia via Tokyo.

I was able to meet him in his Tokyo hotel room and give him that day’s news about the secret Kissinger visit.

Whitlam erupted with that special Whitlam mix of sarcastic joy.

As strode back and forward around the small hotel room he kept rubbing his hands together: “So I was played like a trout, was I? Well when I get back to Canberra I will show them just who is the trout, and who is doing the playing."

Washington had told its allegedly close Canberra ally nothing about the Kissinger visit in advance. Back in Canberra, Whitlam ‘played’ McMahon to the hilt.

The Liberal Party leader never recovered from the setback. His government went to crashing defeat in the November elections the next year.

(May I immodestly suggest that none of this might have taken place but for my extraordinary luck in having that telephone call get through Jackson and that Nagoya factory in April 1971, and for Jackson not wanting to sleep on tatami mats.)