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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 4075

Mr KILLEN (MORETON, QUEENSLAND) - I address a question to the Prime Minister and I refer to the honourable gentleman's observations yesterday concerning China. Does he agree with me that it is the essence of futility to imagine that you can temper or moderate the attitude of a man by pretending that he does not exist and, a fortiori, that the attitude and politics of a country can ever be moderated by pretending that it does not exist? Does the honourable gentleman accept that as a sound principle in the conduct of international affairs? If he does, will he ensure that his Government gives every encouragement to the councils of the world to accept that principle?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - I did not hear the last word in the first sentence of the question. What was the country?

Mr Killen - China.

Mr WHITLAM - The Government seeks to have, within the limits of its resources, diplomatic relations with all countries, irrespective of their ideology. It is essential in the view of the Government, and it was essential in the view of preceding governments, that there should be diplomatic relations between Australia and China. This has been the situation since those relations were established, I would think, more than 30 years ago by an earlier Labor government. There has been no dispute between the political parties in the Australian Parliament that there ought to be recognition by the Australian Government of a government of China. Except for an interval between 1949 or 1950 and 1966, when there was an ambassador from the Republic of China in Australia but not an ambassador from Australia in Taipeh, the capital of ti Republic of China, there has been diplomatic representation by each country. That has been the position for 30 years, except for that gap.

The dispute between the political parties in the Australian Parliament has been about which was the government of China. There were 2 rival governments. Our predecessors took the attitude, from 1949 to the end of their period in office, that they should recognise as the government of China the government headed by Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek and resident in Taipeh, the capital of the province of Taiwan. My Party had taken the attitude since 1955 - I myself had expressed the attitude since 1954 - that Australia should recognise the government in Peking as the government of China, lt has not been possible for any country to have diplomatic relations with or to extend recognition to both the government in Taipeh and the government in Peking. Every other government in the world has had to make a choice as to which of those rival governments it would recognise as the government of China. Both rival governments asserted that their writ ran or should run over the whole of China. Both rival governments asserted, and still assert, that Taiwan is a province of one country - China. Both also have asserted that Tibet is part of one country - China. There are some minor border differences between them concerning Mongolia, North Vietnam or some other countries, but on matters such as Taiwan and Tibet and their position in the country of China there has never been any dispute between the 2 rival governments.

The dispute between the political parties in the Australian Parliament, of course, took practical effect just before Christmas last year when the present Government changed its recognition from Taipeh to Peking and withdrew its representative from Taipeh and sent one to Peking. Whatever other countries may think or whatever people in Australia or successive governments in Australia may think about the geographical or political realitities of the situation, the fact is that one can have recognition of a government of China or have diplomatic relations with a government of China only on the basis of there being one government of China. Every country has to make a choice. The Australian Government had told the people, and for years past as leader of the Australian Labor Party at the last 2' House of Representatives elections I made it quite plain, that we would change our diplomatic representation from Taipeh to Peking. That being so, we promptly carried out what we had always told the public we would do, what the rest of the world knew we would do, and we took the earliest opportunity of telling the countries most closely associated with us that we would do it.

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