C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Turning a blind eye

More nonsense in today's Australian, where political editor Dennis Shanahan has written an article lambasting Kevin Rudd for his perceived 'closeness' to China. Shanahan begins by praising Rudd for his ability to speak Mandarin, and for his foreign policy credentials. He waxes lyrical about Rudd's forthcoming visit to China having a 'Whitlamesque frisson' to it. Then the article takes a bizarre turn:

Yet for all of these positives there is a real policy and political problem for Rudd in being able to order duck pancakes and fried flounder at Portia's Chinese restaurant in Canberra, where he indulges in his linguistic and culinary pastimes.

Simply put, Rudd is seen as being too close to China for Australia's comfort.



By whom is Rudd seen as being 'too close' to China? And for what? Is it because at Chinese eateries, he 'indulges in his linguistic and culinary pastimes', as Shanahan puts it, with the sneering anti-intellectualism that one exepcts from The Australian? Is it because, as Shanahan (rather ludicrously) supposes, that 'Rudd may have batted from the "Long live Leninism, Stalinism and Mao Zedong" end of the Beijing cricket ground against the Poms'?

So why should we be concerned if Rudd is 'too close' to China? Is Shanahan trying to remind readers that, irrespective of China's economic growth, and development into a world 'superpower', the world still has not forgotten the events of the not-so-distant past? Is it to remind us that China's economic strength is, at least in part, predicated upon significant levels of exploitation, or that Australia is in an awkward position in relation to asylum seekers, whom the regime allegedly persecutes?

Shanahan never bothers to give the reader a clear answer, preferring instead, in his waffling sort of way, to suggest that Japan might (and this 'might' is important) be critical or Rudd for 'obscurely supporting Beijing in academic speeches'.

That's it folks - it's a bad idea for an Australian politician to learn Chinese, visit China, or been seen as 'too close' to the dictatorial regime, not because of its clear record of (recent) human rights abuses, but because it might offend the Japanese.

Again, it goes without saying that, whilst both the Coalition and ALP leaders are uncritically pro-American, this position is beyond scrutiny. Even if human rights in the US are looking increasingly shonky, (even to the Chinese, ironically), Shanahan's boss thinks it essential that an American-Australian alliance continues without question. The opinions of Australia's neighbours, or even Australians themselves, apparently do not matter. When it comes to criticism, the US is off-limits; not so China. Of course, Shanahan's selective silence on these matters says far more than his vacuous criticisms of Rudd.

Incidentally, on the topic of our neighbours' perceptions of Australia, the support shown to embattled and allegedly racist fuckwit Alan Jones by our leaders will do nothing to enhance Australia's image, especially when some neighbours already associate Australia with 'white supremacy'.