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Tuesday, 6 June 1989
Page: 3488


Senator TEAGUE(10.36) —As an Australian senator I visited China in 1985, 1986 and 1987. My optimistic observations from these three visits were summarised in a speech that I gave in the Senate in December a year and a half ago. This speech was widely circulated in China and Australia and it marked a special high point in the excellent relations between our two countries over the past very positive decade. However, the events this week in China have cast a totally unwelcome dark shadow across all that has been developed during the past decade. In response to the terrible slaughter in Beijing by government decision during the weekend of 3 and 4 June, yesterday I wrote a letter to my friends in many parts of China. Sadly, I now read my letter to China so that my views are clearly recorded here in the Australian Parliament and understood by the Australian people. The letter reads:

The horror and tragedy of the madness in Tien An Men causes me to write this letter. After a decade of enlightenment what an evil reversal this represents. I appeal to you on the basis of all that is good and sound.

I write to you in the spirit of international understanding. I am a friend of the Chinese people.

I do not address this letter to named individuals in China-those who welcomed me in China, those who travelled with me and those who visited me in my home and Parliament in Australia-because I do not wish to embarrass you any more than the events of the past week in Beijing surely have done already.

Until this past weekend, we in Australia were prepared not to interfere, but to leave Chinese internal decisions to China. But the most recent government decisions and their effects reach far beyond China and they touch us all and we must respond.

For six weeks we have read the newspapers and watched the television reports day by day. We watched for the statements and the actions of Zhao Ziyang and we took note of the statements of Li Peng and Deng Hsiaoping. All along, I hoped there would be rational dialogue and a sensible outcome based on an open accountability to the people.

I supported Zhao Ziyang's dialogue with the people in Tien An Men. I hoped this kind of dialogue would openly and publicly sift the rice from the husks and lead to truth and justice acceptable to the people being implemented by government and students alike. On the basis of this agreed truth and justice I could see the eventual peaceful dispersion of the students and a return to normal life.

The grievances of the students were directed against:

(1) corruption currently covered from sight by the inadequate accountability of government agencies to the people, and

(2) `emperor' lifestyles of a privileged elite inconsistent with equity principles, and the immoral reliance on secrecy to protect these privileges.

To gain a solution, the students justly saw

(3) the need for a free press to expose these errors and hypocrisies and to assist the people's representatives to find a constant stream of solutions to them; and

(4) the need for freedom of speech and freedom of association to allow corruption, hypocrisy and privilege to be factually exposed and justly eliminated; and

(5) the need for a guarantee of freedom for the people to enable them to ensure the government was making decisions in the best short-term and long-term interests of the ordinary people and not lost in inertia nor serving the interests of the tiny minority with government power.

In my opinion, it is correct that this movement is genuinely about freedom and democracy. I use these two terms in a contemporary Chinese sense, as concepts appealed to by Sun Yat Sen and by people's parties in China ever since.

It is insulting to the people of China for any autocrat in Beijing to twist these terms as if they had only foreign meanings or as if `freedom' and `democracy' as used by the students somehow exposed them to be `traitors' pursuing non-Chinese and foreign goals.

I should add, however, that it appears that some of the students failed to recognise the element of anarchy in some of their actions and some students were disrespectful to the government leaders of China. But how can this provide any excuse for the government killing students! Would any father or mother seeing indiscipline or disrespect in their child resort to bloody slaughter whether to punish the child or to deter the other children. No, never!

It is with great horror that we have now in these past few days witnessed the government's decision to order elements of the People's Liberation Army with tanks and with armed infantry to fire on and kill the people whom they should be dedicated to serve. What a perversion!

In Australia, amongst the people across the whole nation, there is a wave of revulsion from this event in Beijing and an angry contempt for those in power who have made this decision autocratically, secretly and with ruthlessness and barbarity.

For the first time since the late 1970s, the exciting and positive decade or so since the arrest of the Gang of Four we have seen, at one stroke, the optimism and openness and affection for China and China's development put under the dark shadow of this deadly tragedy in Tien An Men.

This evening the Australian Prime Minister spoke, I believe, for all of us in Parliament (of all parties) and for the Australian people when he said:

``I'd consistently hoped that the more moderate and intelligent line of my very good friend Zhao Ziyang, would have prevailed . . .

It is only the line of Zhao Ziyang and those who think like him that can provide a lasting resolution of these issues, because Deng and Li Peng may believe that what they have done has brought this issue to an end. It hasn't, and it can't, and it won't.

The nonsense that's been spoken now by the authorities, about them putting down a minority section of renegades is patently false . . . It's not the dregs of society, and it's very hard to talk about your students-not only in Beijing, but around the country-as the ``dregs of society''.

I mean this is patently a nonsense. And there is also evidence available to us of a degree of hesitancy and, indeed, revulsion, in sections of the People's Liberation Army, and which is not surprising. I mean, you imagine the feelings of these young men in uniform being asked now and required to shoot down their fellow citizens, citizens who have been acting peaceably and not making unreasonable demands; students and people who are not questioning, in a sense, certain fundamentals of Chinese society, but expressing simply a fundamental human desire for the freedom of expression and the opportunity to participate. Now, those things are not going to be able to be put down in any permanent sense, so it will be a combination, in my judgment, of the pressure of international opinion and the intrinsic impossibility within China of holding this position.''

Our pain in Australia at this event must be only a small reflection of the pain of the Chinese people. Theirs is a pain mixed with fear; a pain which saps confidence for the present and hope for the future. We weep alongside those in China who weep. Our resolve together is for justice and truth and the truth will set us free.

Unfortunately, a country without confidence for the present and without hope for the future will achieve much less than its actual potential.

That is why the present situation must be remedied. It must be reversed. We are concerned that this week's events have put in jeopardy the admirable goals outlined for China in Zhao Ziyang's Report to the thirteenth Party Congress in October, 1987. I remember well that Report-that five-year and 50-year plan for China-because at that time I was in Beijing, indeed I was in Tien An Men.

The remedy for the Cultural Revolution's ten lost years required the trial of the Gang of Four and their open, public and just dismissal. The recompense now required against the autocratic decision to kill the students who loved China and who asked for freedom and accountability to the people, this recompense will eventually be no less exacting.''

My letter, written yesterday, ends at that point. In conclusion, I can only urge the Chinese authorities to stop the present madness which, if it continues, may consume China in the disaster of civil war. As the days go by we in Australia will watch for the safety of Zhao Ziyang, Hu Qili, Wan Li and their families and all those who, like them, love China and serve the people. We will hope for their reinstatement to the senior positions of authority they had until these recent events and which they held securely and capably as they served the people.