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Thursday, 31 March 1966


Mr CROSS (Brisbane) .- 1 do not propose to address myself to the question raised by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) although I believe we would all be impressed with the sincerity with which he expressed his opinions, not all of which do I agree with. 1 propose to talk about one aspect raised by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), and that is the question of China. The Minister for External Affairs said -

We do not imagine that a lasting arrangement can emerge in Asia which does not take account of what exists on the Chinese mainland.

He went on to say that this is not the same thing as immediate recognition of Communist China or its admission to the United Nations. He said -

Those are simply parts of the whole question of China. 1 propose to address myself for a few moments to the question of China because 1 believe that it is time that we in Australia had a more honest look at our China policy and developed a policy which is more realistic in terms of what is going on in the world around us.

The Australian Labour Party, to which 1 am proud to belong, has a foreign affairs platform in which it supports, firstly, the Commonwealth of Nations and says that Australia should always remain an integral part of it. lt supports the United Nations to which Australia must give its unswerving and paramount loyalty, and which the Labour Party hopes eventually will develop into some wider form of world government. The next proposition is co-operation with the United States in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian oceans and elsewhere, subject to the understanding that Australia must remain free to order its policies in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Paragraphs (d) and (e) refer to our association with the nations of South East Asia for the development of common interests, the setting up of treaties and the like. Paragraph (f) deals with the necessity to review defence treaties and alliances from time to time to meet new circumstances as they arise.

Attention was given yesterday in the Parliament to just what this last sentence means. What it means, of course, is that in any alliance set up at a point in time circumstances change. Today's enemies may be the friends of tomorrow, and yesterday's allies may be the enemies of today. We know of the changed circumstances with regard to France and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, for example, and the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. We know of the changed circumstances whereby Pakistan, which is a S.E.A.T.O. power, has recently developed firm and friendly relations with China. It is necessary to have some degree of flexibility and all of these relations between Australia and the world have to be kept under constant review.

My proposition is that Australia, because of the very sound and satisfactory relationship - one might say initimate relationship - which it has built up with the United States of America, ought to use its powers of persuasion and its influence with that country to normalise Communist China's relations with the world. I should like to emphasise that I would not compare the two relationships. Our relationship with the United States of America quite obviously is the most important relationship that Australia has at this point of time, but if we are to turn China away from her rather bellicose statements and warlike tendencies then we have to provide China with an alternative, namely to give her her rightful place in the councils of the world and the diplomatic recognition which Australia normally accords to nations with which it trades and with which it carries out normal international functions.


Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - What about the consequences of that action?


Mr CROSS - I propose to deal with some of those things. This has become even more urgent because of the fact that last year on 17th November in the United Nations the vote in favour of admitting China to that organisation was even - 47 in favour and 47 against, with 20 nations abstaining. You will recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that there were two resolutions. The first was that the question was an important one requiring a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly. That resolution was carried by 56 votes for and 49 against. If honorable members consider the facts surrounding this resolution they will see that many of the nations which voted in favour of China's admission were neighbours of China, Asian powers and European nations with which Australia is associated in defence agreements. The Asian nations which voted for China's admission to the United Nations were: Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Singapore. I shall not mention all of the European nations but merely those with which we have a special relationship. They were: France, which is a S.E.A.T.O. and N.A.TO. power, and the United Kingdom, with which, of course, we are closely associated in the Commonwealth of Nations and in numerous defence arrangements. 1 believe that over a number of years the attitude of the United States and of this country, in support of the United States, towards China has been completely unrealistic. We have not accorded China the normal rights that any government in effective control of a country should be given, whether we agree or disagree with many of that government's attitudes. We are now brought to the situation, because this has been made a prestige issue, that if China is admitted to the United Nations at the next session, as it well may be, there will be an enormous loss of prestige by the United States, ourselves and all of those nations which have supported the United States in its attitude. I believe that the time has come when Australia and its allies ought to be prepared to put forward some positive resolution in the United Nations in order to resolve this question. I believe that such a resolution could revolve around the two - China policy that has has been expounded, that is; to admit China to the United Nations without at the same time expelling the Nationalist Chinese Government on Formosa.

The question may well be asked: Is this acceptable to China? I believe that if we submitted a positive resolution of this kind and it was carried, it would be up to the Government of the People's Republic of China to determine whether it would enter the United Nations on those terms. So, instead of locking the door on China, we would be opening the door with what would be a reasonable proposition and one from which some negotiation could take place with a view to the eventual admission of China to the United Nations. I believe that we have to consider this matter, not only because it is an urgent and important question, but also because the attitude of this Government is a hypocritical one indeed.

We trade with China. From the latest figures that I have been able to obtain, in 1964-65 China was the fifth largest purchaser of Australian exports. In that year we exported 2,239,909 tons of wheat to China for a total of $116 million. We exported wool to China to the value of $15 million. The most important nation with which we traded in that year was the United Kingdom. Japan was next, then the United States of America, New Zealand and China. I believe that if we want to trade with China, if we are willing to take money from China, and if we value China as a client, we ought to explore the question of recognising China and normalising our relationship with her.

I know that the question of trade is controversial. I know that some honorable members opposite are opposed to trading with China, to recognising China and to accepting China's admission to the United Nations. The position of the Labour Party on this matter is quite clear. We are in favour of trading with any nation in the world. We are not in favour of exporting strategic materials to China because we have defence commitments and we cannot break them. We are in favour of the admission of China to the United Nations without prejudicing the membership of the nationalist Chinese Government in Formosa. I have said that we are in favour of normalising the relationship between our nation and China. This would be a rather slow procedure, but the important thing is that we have to take the first few steps along the road.


Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - Which road?


Mr CROSS - The road towards normalising China's position in the world and bringing about, in relation to China, these changes which have taken place in the Soviet Union over a long period whereby the Soviet Union is able to take its place as a respected member of the councils of the world today. To illustrate this point, one needs only to refer to the recent meeting at Tashkent where the Soviet Union was able to bring about an agreement between the two Commonwealth countries,

India and Pakistan. That was something that a lot of people had been trying to do for a long time and the Soviet Union should be commended.

The Government has told the Parliament on numerous occasions when questions have been asked concerning the export of wheat and 0,her commodities to China, that after "ali this is not done by the Government; it is done by private organisations such as the Austraiian Wheat Board and the Australian Wool Board. But the Commonwealth Government is not without its official role in the development of trade. Because Great Britain recognises China and has a diplomatic representative in Peking, we are able to enjoy facilities that are normally accorded by one Commonwealth nation to another. But a number of people, including public servants, have gone to China to foster and develop trade with that country, either with the encouragement of the Government or certainly without any discouragement. None or very few of them could go if the Government said that they could not go.

In 1956 Mr. H. C. Menzies was the Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong. I do not know whether he had a famous relative, but he went to Hong Kong and made a report on China and its trade potential. His report was considered and evaluated by the Government. In 1958 an Australian trade mission visited the South East Asian area in the vessel " Delos ". It called at Shanghai. The arrangements in relation to its call were made by the Australian Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong with the representative of mainland China in Hong Kong. In 1961 Mr. R. B. Patterson, the Australian Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong, visited the Canton Trade Fair. He had negotiations with the trade department of the Government of China with a view to expanding Australia's trade. In 1961, Dr. H. C. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, went to China to establish between the Reserve Bank of Australia and the People's Bank of China the relations which would normally exist between the Governments of two nations which were trading together.

It has been said that the Reserve Bank is a quasi-autonomous body. That is true, but at that point of time the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, was Acting Minister for External Affairs. The present

Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) was Treasurer of this country. I venture to say that there is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Coombs' visit to China would have required the approval of both those gentlemen. Another matter of interest is that in 1962 there was a reciprocal visit by three delegates from the People's Bank of China. They came to Australia to negotiate with the Reserve Bank. While they were here they met not only the representatives of private organisations but also officials of the Department of Trade and Industry.

One could go on giving similar examples. In addition to public servants and people associated with Government instrumentalities, a great number of Australian people have visited China. In 1963 five trading bank delegations went to China on behalf of the Wool Board. Of course, members of the Wheat Board are regular customers on the airlines which operate between this part of the world and China. I have tried to put the point of view that we ought to be honest about this situation. We cannot have a little bit each way, as the Government is trying to do at the present time. If we are to trade with China, if we are to develop the trade which has been of a great advantage to our wheatgrowers, woolgrowers and the people of Australia generally, we ought to recognise our obligations.

I have one interesting point to make in relation to wheat. Because the price of wheat has fallen since 1959-60, the Government has honoured its legal obligations to the Wheat Board. It has subsidised wheat on the cost of production level. In the year 1962-63, the export of wheat to China was subsidised to the extent of £11 million.


Mr Armstrong - That is untrue.


Mr CROSS - I have my references here. If we are to continue this trade, we ought to be honest and consistent and take the other steps that I have suggested. A number of reasons have been given why we should not trade with China and normalise our relations with China. The Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) dealt with this matter when he said -

There was the Chinese intervention in the Korean War. There was the successful Chinese rape of Little Tibet. There was the ruthless and unprovoked attack on democratic India.

He went on to refer to Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaya, South Vietnam and the nations of Africa and Latin America. I do not necessarily subscribe to a lot of the views about China that are expressed by honorable members opposite. I think that China is entitled, as all great powers are entitled, to be surrounded by friendly or neutral nations. That is something that we demand for ourselves. Our presence in New Guinea was brought about by strategic considerations in Australia. We regret the circumstances in which the Soviet Government occupied the eastern European countries. But the fact is that the existence of those countries between Russia and the N.A.T.O. powers has been a great factor in the moderation of Russia's attitude - it has a feeling of security. The United States insists that it should not have an unfriendly power in Cuba or in those areas of Latin America which are so close to her. I believe that the same situation should apply to China. 1 do not condone everything that the Government of China has done. Far from it. But its admission to the United Nations should not be determined by a test of whether we agree with what it does or says at all times. We are told that clause 4 of the United Nations Charter requires member States to renounce war. We must be consistent. Does this mean that Australia went into the United Nations after the rape of Hungary and demanded the expulsion of the Soviet Union? Does this mean that we took action when India and Pakistan elected not to settle their disputes within the United Nations or by conference but went to war? Does this mean we took action to expel them?


Mr Bryant - There is Suez, too.


Mr CROSS - That is right. These are principles that cannot be applied, but I believe that we should work towards facilitating China's development along peaceful lines. I think that the trade that Australia has encouraged and is developing with China is a useful step, but we ought to take it a little further by being honest, by recognising China and agreeing to its admission to the United Nations. I close by reiterating what I said earlier. I do not suggest that Australia do this unilaterally. Australia has treaties and defence associations with the United States of America^ Great Britain and other great powers. I merely suggest that

Australia use its influence with the United States and come forward at the next session of the United Nations with some positive policy on the admission of China to that body. The point that this may not be acceptable to China is not one that we ought to determine. It is a point that ought to be determined by the United Nations when China has the opportunity to decide whether it will seek admission on a reasonable basis or whether it will decline admission. China has a population of 750 million. It is the largest nation in the world. It has a strong Government that came into office by a revolution. I do not condone many of the acts of that Government, but there is no doubt that it is a Government in effective control of China and a Government that has done much for the Chinese people. One of its principal propaganda points is that it is treated like a pariah dog in the world. If it is good enough for us to trade with China, we ought to be honest and extend the hand of friendship to China in an effort to have it moderate its policies and take its place on the councils of the world.







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