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Thursday, 22 April 1971

Senator BUTTFIELD (South Australia) - I rise to oppose the motion. I agree with Senator Gair that this matter should not be regarded as one of urgency but I disagree with him on other aspects of his remarks. Following my visit to China some 7 or 8 years ago I have advocated visits to that country. I have advocated also continuing trade and eventually recognition, but I do not think that recognition is urgent at the present time and 1 do not think that it would be wise for us to rush into it. I have advocated visits to China because it is necessary for us to get to know the people of China probably more than any other country and for them to get to know us. We cannot expect to gain or foster friendship and warmth with a country unless we set out to know its people and to help them to know us.

The propaganda which is put out by the Communist Government of Red China is designed to foster hatred. The Communists have painted pictures of we of the Western world as foreign devils. It does not matter where you go in China - I went by train into the more outlying- areas - there is intense hatred of the people of the West because the Chinese do not know us. They know only that our white skin makes us foreign devils.

Senator Cavanagh - Did they change their views after the honourable senators visit?

Senator BUTTFIELD - I did my best to get some response on a friendly nature from them. I smiled upon the people as I smile upon the honourable senator in the hope of getting a friendly smile in return, but I did not get any friendly response from the Chinese people in mainland China. The position .was- different in Taiwan. The attitude of the people of Red China indicates that the propaganda being put out by the Communist Government is very successful. I believe that the only way to overcome it is to send many visitors into that country in the hope eventually that we may be able to break down the hatred which exists.

Senator Bishop - Was the Premier of China friendly to the honourable senator when she sought permission to visit?

Senator BUTTFIELD - Indeed he was. He gave me a visa but no facilities were made available to me. However, that is another story. I got a visa and I travelled through China. While there I went through the Revolutionary Museum. The Museum is an exercise in intense hatred. The Director showed me all of the articles in the Museum which are designed to build hatred of the Western world. He would not tell me in English what they were but he would reply to my questions in Chinese and have his answers interpreted for me so that every Chinese person in the Museum would look upon me as an instrument of hatred, thus fostering in them a feeling of hatred. I do not wish to go back through the past of the Chinese people, as Senator Gair did, and say that they have a rotten record. I am willing to forget the aggression which they have practised if their personal tendencies, or even appearances, are towards a warmer, friendlier and more peaceful attitude. I think that attitude should be fostered and I would be the first to encourage it. It does not do any good to look to the past.

I deal now with the matter of trade. While in China I sought an interview with the Minister for Trade because I wanted to find out for myself the attitude of the Chinese people towards future trade with Australia. 1 was told by the Minister for Trade that China would continue to buy wheat and other articles from us if our prices were right and if we sought to buy more goods from her. When I asked him what kind of goods he had in mind, he said that there were several things that we could buy, and he mentioned particularly handicrafts. Many more articles are coming into Australia now from mainland China than was the case previously, and I hope that that fact eventually will convince the Chinese people that we are keen to have friendly relations with them and to continue trading together on a friendly, reasonable and properly thought-out basis. I am not sure that the wheat we have sold to China in the past has been a very economical exercise for us. I think that it has been heavily subsidised, but it is a good thing that we have been able to sell wheat to them and I hope that we will continue to do so.

I went through China by train especially so that I could look at agricultural conditions in the country areas. It was evident that in the south they grow rice and in the north they grow wheat. They are subject to the vagaries of the weather perhaps more so than are farmers in most countries. There are huge rivers which flood and they experience extreme droughts and serious fires. Nevertheless they can grow more rice than they consume but they do not grow sufficient wheat because of the difficulties associated wilh the weather, the flooding of rivers and so on. For that reason I think that they will continue to need wheat and I hope that they will resume trading with us in the near future.

One must congratulate the people of China on their efforts to make their country produce. It is a most laborious exercise because they have very few of the farming aids that we have to make agricultural pursuits easy, effective and economic. They work intensely hard, and for that I congratulate them. I praise the people and their Government for the development that they have undertaken in the construction of factories and in the manufacture of goods. They have done a very good job and for that reason I am not attacking the Government of China. I give credit where credit is due. 1 certainly hope that the developing attitude of warmth and friendship will continue.

I was amazed to hear Senator Murphy claim that President Nixon had said that America was recognising the People's Republic of China. I understand that that is completely untrue. The President said that being friendly with China and encouraging people to go there did not involve recognition. On 16th April he said that it was premature to anticipate any change in United States policy of recognition or representation in the United Nations, and that that was very much in the future. I believe that eventually recognition will come. Like Senator Gair, I think that it should come after the entry pf mainland China into the United Nations when it has demonstrated that it intends to recognise the principles of the United Nations in maintaining peace and in settling disputes in peaceful ways.

I heard some amazing statements made by members of the Opposition. Senator Murphy said that we on the Government side claim that Chiang Kai-shek's Government' is the Government df mainland China! That is a distortion of. the truth. However, we do claim that Chiang Kaishek's Government was the last freely elected government in mainland China. He "is now running the Government in Taiwan. If we do recognise Red China I hope that we will never claim that Taiwan is not a country which we should recognise. If Chian Kai-shek's Government is still the freely elected Government in Taiwan I hope that we will continue to recognise it.

Senator Cavanagh - When was the last election in Taiwan?

Senator BUTTFIELD - I do not know what the situation is there.

Senator Cavanagh - Neither does anyone else.

Senator BUTTFIELD - I said if that is the freely elected Government in Taiwan.

Senator Little - Elections have been held there certainly not less often than they have been in mainland China.

Senator BUTTFIELD - That is true. There are no elections in mainland China. We intend to recognise both countries but we will not be bludgeoned into recognising Red China and massacring, if that is the word, the people of Taiwan. I was also amazed to hear Senator Turnbull say that the Chinese people, being Communists, would not want to come to Australia. Certainly people could come as representatives of a great world power. Probably that is right but they would come as representatives of a Communist power and we do not want that. We want to make sure that they have friendly intentions before we recognise them. The honourable senator said that he could not think of any other country which would tolerate the present situation in Hong Kong. That is an amazing statement because' Hong Kong is of great value to mainland China for the entrance of overseas currency and as an outlet for its goods. The situation of Hong Kong certainly suits China very well indeed.

Senator Turnbullwants a parliamentary delegation to visit China. I would hope to see many people go there. My own visit illustrates that that country will admit people of any party, but.. it would be difficult to send a parliamentary delegation to a country which/has no parliamentary institution. It would' 'not' be possible to have an exchange of parliamentarians because Red China does hot have any parliamentarians. I would hot like to see our representatives attempting to enter Red China at the time of the May Day or October celebrations. I Have seen enough of the propaganda exercises carried on in China. I think that the times of such celebrations should be the last times that our representatives seek to go there. At those times the people of China rally in their millions to demonstrate. They are scared not to demonstrate. I hope that that era is passing, but we should not visit Red China at such times.

I would foster friendship with the Chinese people. I do not agree with Senator Cant that we have sent a ping-pong team to Red China. The team , went there of its own will, and jolly good luck to it. I hope many more sporting, professional or other groups will visit China. They will find it an extremely interesting country and no obstacles will be put in their way. However, I do not believe that a parliamentary delegation should undertake such an exercise.

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