Thursday, April 12, 2007

Australia's anti-China pact

Australia does some strange things in its foreign policies. The latest "security" (read "military") tieup with Japan is no exception.
Canberra insists that the tieup has no anti-China implication. But a tieup with a Tokyo beset by anti-Beijing dislikes and fears, and which seeks to recruit even such unlikely candidates as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and India into a chain of potential anti-China alliances, cannot be otherwise.
Besides, if China is not the target then which country is? North Korea? That bogey is now fast disappearing as Washington comes to realize that the key problem all along was its refusal to live up to its 1994 promise of normalized relations with Pyongyang.
So why is Canberra so seemingly willing to risk its valuable trade relationship with Beijing by linking up with an anti-Beijing Tokyo? China already buys more iron ore from Australia than Japan did in its heyday. Its continued purchases of resource goods are crucial to Australia's economic future.
One answer is U.S. pressure. Australians still see themselves beholden to the nation that saved them from Japanese invasion more than 60 years ago. Washington makes no secret of its desire to have Australia join its former enemy as the southern prong in a western Pacific anti-China grouping.
But it is not just U.S. pressure. Canberra really does seem to believe it can say one thing and do another -- that it can be both pro- and anti-China at the same time. Just a month ago its prime minister, John Howard, was using the current Tokyo cliche "shared democratic values" to justify the tieup with Japan. He was followed by his foreign minister, Alexander Downer, on a recent visit to China insisting that Sino-Australian ties were at their warmest ever.
The departing Chinese ambassador from Australia, Fu Ying, summed it up well when she suggested a certain "lack of transparency" in Canberra's policies to China. One moment Canberra is hinting that its ANZUS treaty obligations would require it to join with the U.S. side in any conflict with China over Taiwan. The next moment it is insisting it would remain neutral. "Murky confusion" would be a better term.
Or lack of maturity. Canberra likes to insist that, thanks to proximity, it is involved more deeply with Asia than any other Western nation. Yet it was left to the distant Scandinavians to try to broker solutions to two of Asia's uglier disputes -- Finland in Indonesia's Aceh province insurgency and Norway in Sri Lanka's Tamil insurgency. Canberra was too busy siding with the government in both disputes. Its determination to keep on side with the corrupt and oppressive former Suharto regime in Indonesia led directly to its toleration for and later open support for Indonesia's 1975 brutal occupation of East Timor. Once again it was left to distant peoples -- the Portuguese and the Latin Americans -- to try to put an end to that atrocity.
During the Vietnam hostilities of the 1960s, Canberra both encouraged and joined in the U.S. intervention, claiming that the insurgency there was fomented by China using Hanoi as its puppet to sweep southward into Asia and threaten Australia. In the 1959 Singapore independence elections it sought actively to prevent Lee Kwan Yew's success, on the grounds that he was a crypto-communist also seeking to expand China's influence in Asia.
This strongly military-centered, anti-China, anti-insurgency bias in Canberra's attitudes to Asia underlies the ease with which it seems to have slipped into its risky tieup with an increasingly military-minded, anti-China Japan. Military and intelligence contacts between the two governments have a long and prolific history, well-chronicled by Australia's leading defense researcher, Desmond Ball*. Sadly the same emphasis is lacking from diplomatic and cultural contacts; Canberra has long been unable to fill its top Tokyo Embassy positions with Japanese speakers, for example.
Indeed, the bias goes back even further, sometimes to the point of contradiction. It began with the ANZUS agreement in 1951, ironically aimed at cooperation with the United States and New Zealand to prevent a revival of Japanese aggression in Asia.
ANZUS is still in force, even as Canberra seeks a "security" tieup with that former enemy against the main victim of Japan's former aggression -- China.
It was followed by Canberra's active role in the ill-fated South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) of the '60s, which provided the rationale for the Vietnam intervention. Anticommunist military tieups with Malaysia and Singapore were also negotiated then. Perhaps the most egregious was the secretly negotiated 1995 "security" agreement with the Suharto regime during Jakarta's vicious suppressions in East Timor and Irian Jaya. That infamous agreement now seems to have been replaced with yet another "security" tieup with Jakarta signed in November, just a few months before the tieup with Japan. Canberra, it seems, has yet to see a military alliance in Asia it does not like.
I served in Canberra during what many see as the one genuinely progressive period in recent Australian postwar history -- the Whitlam regime of 1972-75. But even then the hawks and military continued to dominate foreign policy, for example in Canberra's support for U.S. policies in Cambodia. Today the anti-China bias continues as Canberra tries to prevent Beijing from having influence in East Timor and the south Pacific.
To date, Beijing has remained fairly silent about the Tokyo-Canberra tieup. But things could change. The Chinese seem finally to have realized their mistake in seeing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as possibly pro-China simply because he seems to have promised to end former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's penchant for visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Beijing needed only to read Abe's 2006 book, "Toward a Beautiful Nation," to discover his enthusiasm for an Indian and Australian anti-China alliance, and his strong dislike of Japanese diplomats who speak Chinese and know China -- the "China School" despised by Japan's rightwing agitators.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the opinion polls say that following elections likely later this year, the next prime minister could well be a former diplomat who speaks Chinese fluently and knows China well -- Kevin Rudd, the 48-year-old leader of the Australian Labor Party. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say to Abe about China.
Gregory Clark is a former Australian diplomat specializing in Chinese and Soviet affairs, and a longtime resident in Japan. *Desmond Ball's defense research:

Discuss this Article

 それに、中国がターゲットでないとすれば、ほかにどこがあるか? 北朝鮮? 北朝鮮悪玉のイメージは、アメリカ政府が、これまで続いてきた問題の核心が北朝鮮との
 だがアメリカのプレッシャーだけではない。オーストラリア政府は、言うことと為すことが違っていいと、本気で信じているらしい─ つまり、親中国であると同時に反中国であってもいいと。ほんの一月前オーストラリア首相ジョン・ハワードは、目下の日本政府の決まり文句
 あるいは成熟度に欠けるともいえる。オーストラリア政府は、地理的な近さのおかげでオーストラリアはどの西側諸国よりもより深くアジアに関わっていると強調したがる。ところが、アジアにおけるより醜い二つの紛争において、解決のための仲介の労を遠く離れたスカンジナビアの国々に─ インドネシアのアチュ地方の内乱はフィンランド、スリランカのタミール内乱はノルウェーに─ 任せている。
1975年のインドネシアによる残酷な東チモール占領を黙認し後には公然と支持することにつながった。その場合もまた、その暴虐を止めさせる努力は遠方─ ポルトガルと南米─ の人々の手に委ねられた。
1972-75年ウイットラム政権時代─ にキャンベラで政府の仕事をした。だがその当時でさえ、カンボジアにおける米政策を支持したことに見るように、外交政策を牛耳っていたのはタカ派と軍部だった。今日でも、東チモールや南太平洋において中国が影響力を持つのを阻止する努力が示すように、反中国的偏向は続いている。
2006年出版の安倍の著書「美しい日本へ」を一読するだけで、インドとオーストラリアの反中国同盟への彼の傾倒ぶりを発見しただろうし、彼が、中国語を話し中国に詳しい日本の外交官─ 日本の右派扇動家たちに軽蔑されているいわゆるチャイナスクール─ を強く嫌っていることを知ったはずだ。

* デズモンド・ボールの防衛研究:
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