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Wednesday, 7 November 1973
Page: 1585


Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - It is entirely proper that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) should table in the Parliament as soon as he can after his return a statement on the outcome of his visit to Japan and China and the talks which he held there. I think it is all the more significant that the statement should be made to the Parliament because on this occasion a very large Press entourage accompanied the Prime Minister and we have received from the commentators who were there a euphoric and fulsome account of what occurred. It is unfortunate that aspects of those accounts have differed so that it is difficult for the critical observer attempting to assess what really did occur on these trips to get a coherent and consistent statement. But the statement has been made and we are happy to have the opportunity to consider it. The Opposition welcomes, as it welcomed when it was the Government, the willingness of the Chinese Government to extend its associations and relationships with other countries. We welcomed when in Government those initiatives which President Nixon had taken, and we acknowledged also the welcome response of China and the ties which subsequently were created. We welcomed, of course, the opportunities for constructive bilateral contacts and understanding- that which commentators have described as detentewhich have been produced. It is in the same spirit that we acknowledge the association which Mr Whitlam, firstly as Leader of the Australian Labor Party, and secondly as Leader of the Australian Labor Party and Prime Minister of this country, has been able to build up in the contacts which he has with Chinese leaders.

I am quite sure that it gives some pride and satisfaction to all Australians that the Prime Minister of this country can meet with the leaders of other countries and hold his own, and therefore the nation's own, in the discussions which take place. That is said without regard to whether or not the substance of the discussions or the attitudes which are adopted have the approval of the people on whose behalf he travels overseas. On that aspect I desire to say something before I conclude my remarks. The Opposition recognises that there are benefits from maintaining close associations, from seeking to have a frank statement from those countries with which we have the associations, as to their policies and attitudes on matters of common interest and world affairs. We recognise particularly with China that there are benefits in creating trade associations and that there is mutuality in the benefits which can be derived. We acknowledge that in what has been achieved by the Prime Minister on this visit there is a prospect of rationalising the situation of overseas Chinese in this country and of facilitating, what it has not been Australia's part to deny in the past, such visits by Australians and Chinese as the persons travelling desire. These and other things, I believe, can be positive benefits from the visit to China.

The Opposition also acknowledges the potential value of the mission which the Prime Minister undertook with his Ministers to Japan. This was, in a way which cannot be said of the visit to China, a necessary visit. It was a visit of necessity because the relationships which had developed between Japan and Australia over the 10 months of this Government's tenure of office had created a concern which had to be expressed and, if possible, the difficulties which had arisen from that concern resolved. The Prime Minister had a difficult task because we know how dependent we have been on Japan not only in terms of investment which has been provided for the development of Australian potential, but also in the provision of markets for so many of Australia's commodities. The growth of Japan as a major trading partner has been associated with the welfare of Australia for many years, and the developments earlier this year cast doubt in so many minds upon whether that association of the past would continue. It was very highly desirable- 'necessary', I think, was the word I used earlier- that the Prime Minister should seek to clarify the problems which had arisen in relation to Japan. After all, the first trade agreement of post-war years between Australia and Japan had been negotiated by the previous Government in 1956. Since that date there had been long and fruitful associations, trade delegations passing to and from Australia, other contacts of a more particular nature, and of course there had been prior ministerial meetings between Japanese and Australian Ministers.

Whether the results of the visit to Japan have brought that clarification and that certainty into our relations for which we are looking, only time will tell. I think it is regrettable that the statement which has just been read by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) on behalf of the Prime Minister is one in respect of which it is difficult to be constructive. The statement itself says very little. In the manner of previous statements made by the Prime Minister after his overseas tours, we were given relatively full information of the persons he met, of the persons with whom he held short or long discussions and of the places he visited. There is little more in this statement on his visit to Japan and China. It may be said to be noteworthy for its generalities and lack of real information. Much of it is cast in such general expressions as to be singularly uninformative. I indicate by reference to a few pages the type of criticism which I am offering.

It is appropriate, and it is part of the journalese of diplomacy, that the Prime Minister should say that his visits 'were marked by great warmth on both sides'; that the 'visits were characterised by frankness and firmness from both sides'; that both visits notably advanced the interests of Australia and our friendship and understanding of those 2 great neighbours'. But those words do not reveal what was discussed or what decisions have emerged. Likewise, for the Prime Minister to express the judgment coming from himself that 'the visit will prove to be of considerable importance and value to the whole of Australia' and that our relationships with Japan were broadened and more clearly denned ', is likewise uninformative until we are told of the bases upon which it will be of value to Australia and we know in what ways we have broadened and more clearly defined our relationship. Similarly, to state, as the Prime Minister does state, that any misunderstanding that existed in Japan about the nature of the Government's policies on minerals and energy and overseas investment has now been cleared away' requires more than the Prime Minister's assertion that it has been cleared away. Likewise, the statement that 'any uncertainties about the readability of Australia as a long-term supplier of raw materials' have been dispelled requires something more than the Prime Minister's assertion.

I say this simply because one reads comments from the newspaper commentators who accompanied the Prime Minister and from their statements one learns that they did not find the position as the Prime Minister now states it to the Parliament. Similarly, when the Prime Minister states that the 'close and important relations between Japan and Australia are to be expressed in a broad bilateral treaty', one then gains the impression that the details of the treaty are to be worked out in the future. One doubts whether it is appropriate at this stage to say that we have anything more than a willingness to allow Ministers and officers of both countries to get together to see whether some agreement can be reached. If that be the position, how correct is it to say that we have reached a new understanding? The Prime Minister has said he believes his visit 'will give new direction and increased momentum to our existing relationship with Japan and will lead to the development of a more meaningful relationship and a continuing dialogue with China'.

I say with respect that this is the language in which you cover up failure to get anything more specific or positive in terms of discussions. If in fact what the Prime Minister did achieve was a relationship with the leaders of Japan and China which enables him to contact them more readily and more easily, and to talk on a basis on which his views will be listened to and the views of others will be equally listened to by him so that they know where each other stands, then that is of value, and I do not question that it is of value. But let it be stated for what it is. I believe that the Parliament is entitled to something better, a great deal more in the way of information from the Prime Minister as to what actually happened on the visits to Japan and China, and what the prospects arising from those visits may be.

The questions, the doubts, the uncertainties which arise from a consideration of these trips, and particularly from the statement which has been made today following those trips, are far more numerous than the achievements to which the statement lays claim. I ask for example, in connection with Japan: What is the position with regard to Japanese investment in Australia? Will it be welcomed in Australia, and, if so, on what conditions? Is Japanese investment in Australia only to occur through the Australian Industry Development Corporation or may the Japanese buyers negotiate directly with prospective suppliers in Australia? These are matters, looking closely as one does at the communiques which have been issued in Japan, which are quite unanswered.

It is hard to believe that Japanese businessmen, who have a reputation world-wide of seeking to be precise and to know the details of negotiations, would be satisfied with generalities of the character which the Prime Minister gave in the statement on foreign investment which is one of the tabled documents. What, for example, is the position in regard to Japan and its reputed solid investment in the importation of iron ore from Brazil? What prospects does that offer for the Australian exporters in the future? Is there to be a drying up of the Australian market or is Australia to be placed in the position that it lives on an ad hoc basis from year to year as to its export requirements?

What is the position with regard to natural gas and uranium? May I simply take a few of the Press headlines which appeared in the Australian Press when the Prime Minister was in Japan. For example, on 27 October 3 headlines which appeared in 3 reputable papers indicated differing points of view. The Melboure 'Age' stated: 'Gas, Uranium for Japan, says the PM\ indicating quite clearly, as the major text to the article under the headline indicates, that we have a market for our gas and uranium in Japan. The Melbourne 'Sun' of the same day says: 'Japan says 'yes' to a New Mines Deal '. That deal is that minerals should be processed in Australia before being shipped to Japan. But these are not matters which appear in the communiques which have been issued by the Prime Minister. The 'Australian' of the same date states: 'Japan in Resources Plan- PM'. The statement underneath that headline indicates that Japan will be allowed to take part in Australian resource projects. It also states that this contradicted assertions to the contrary made by the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor. Other headlines at the same time indicate the difficulty of getting any precise evaluation of what was the result of the Prime Minister's visit to Japan.

The 'Canberra Times' correspondent- one can say that here in Canberra we know that he always has a very fulsome appreciation of the Government in what he writes- wrote articles which carried the head lines: 'New policies on investment. More substantial than hoped. Tokyo talks a triumph for Whitlam'. That indicates a subjective view point from the writer. But we have to contrast that against a headline which appeared in the 'Australian Financial Review' of the same date which reads: 'Confusion Still Simmers in Tokyo'. When we look at the 'Age' we find: 'Whitlam clears the air in Japan'. I have used newspaper headlines to reveal what must be the impact in Australia of what occurred in Japan. That impact is one of uncertainty. What precisely have the arrangements been? Regrettably the statement which is offered to the Parliament is singularly silent in regard to any of those matters. I repeat that the Australian Parliament is entitled to something better from the Prime Minister than the generalities in which he has chosen to dress up the results of his visit to Japan. But, as I said, if there has been clarification, if there is certainty, even if on balance we would not think this is something that will work out to Australia's benefit in the future, at least the Japanese know and will adjust their attitudes accordingly. We will be able to take our stand accordingly. Ultimately the choice, which is a choice for the Australian people, will become a choice made on better information than would otherwise be the case.

I refer specifically to the visit to China. In the House of Representatives Mr Andrew Peacock, as the Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, has stressed the number of questions, the doubts and the uncertainties which are raised by the

Prime Minister's statement today. For example, we have in the statement a reference to the fact that the Prime Minister raised or reaffirmed the Australian Government's determined opposition to nuclear testing in the atmosphere. Again, reading the comments of commentators who associated with the Prime Minister on his trip, one can accept that the Prime Minister did not initiate the discussion on nuclear testing. He did not even discuss the matter in his negotiations with Chou En-lai. It was a matter raised by Chairman Mao Tse-tung. It was thus provided as an opportunity for the Prime Minister to express his views. What I would be interested to know is what the Prime Minister was told by the Chairman in response to the opposition which was expressed.

The Senate will recall that I was a member of a parliamentary delegation which visited China for a period of some 14 days this year. In the course of that visit we did not meet Premier Chow En-lai but we met the Vice-Premier, Li Hsien-nien. At that interview the question of nuclear testing was raised and the Australian Government's view- and I state advisedly the Government's view, because it was a view with which the Opposition was completely identified -was expressed to the Chinese Vice-Premier. Concern was expressed at what China was doing. We were given a reply by the Vice-Premier which was emphatic, clear and totally uncomprising. It was a view that China believed it had a right to have a nuclear capability, that China was to continue with its nuclear testing until it had that nuclear capability and that while America, Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had a nuclear capability it was China's right and entitlement to have the same capability. The sincerity of Australia was questioned because we were taking an attitude on this occasion which was different from the attitude which Australia had taken on earlier occasions with respect to Britain and America. I do not know and I think that the Prime Minister at least ought to say whether that was the attitude which China has since adopted, because if China has adopted that attitude it is to me surprising that the Prime Minister has adopted a different type of style and approach to that which he has adopted to France. We know that France has made quite clear in similarity uncomprising terms its intention to continue with nuclear testing in the atmosphere until it has perfected its nuclear capability. The Prime Minister has made clear throughout the world in quite blunt, and I would imagine to France quite offensive terms, Australia's objection. If China has adopted the same attitude as France, and certainly in my experience it is the attitude of the Chinese Government, then one raises the question: Why is it that the Prime Minister is not prepared to speak in the same language to China as he is prepared to speak to France?

It is equally clear that it is not mentioned in the Prime Minister's statement that the Prime Minister is prepared to meet with other countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations area and explain to them China's policies. I think there is no question that this was an indication made at a Press conference according to reports which have come to me and which I believe requires the Prime Minister to make some explanation of what he proposes to say. It is not a matter which is taken up by his statement today. I certainly believe that it is not in Australia's interest to be the spokesman for any other country unless there is a request to which Australia believes it can accede and in respect of which there can be no subordination of Australia's interests.

I wonder what the Prime Minister will tell these ASEAN countries. Will he take up the question of those Chinese activities which are of real concern to the many countries of the region of which we are part? What will he say of the fears which these countries have of Chinese motivated, supported and financed insurgency because this is one of the vital questions which, as we all know, concerns the countries to our immediate north? As far as I can read, this matter was not referred to in any of the commentaries of the journalists who accompanied the Prime Minister. It is certainly not referred to in the Prime Minister's statement. Yet it must be one of the most vital factors in the whole of the South-East Asian region. I have in my hand an article from the Canberra 'Times' of 7 July this year. It sets out in short form the insurgency movements in South-East Asian countries such as Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and the Phillipines. It sets out the position in Indonesia. The article proceeds to indicate the extent of China's support for these insurgency movements. I refer specifically to an article in Newsweek' of 17 September of this year by Loren Jenkins. I shall read part of the report to illustrate what writers other than those, apparently, who wrote for Australian newspapers are prepared to set down. He states: the Chinese have done little to reassure their SouthEast Asian neighbours. While pledging to desist from 'interfering' in their internal affairs, Peking has pointedly refused to dissociate itself publicly from any of the communist insurgencies in the area. In fact, intelligence sources argue that the Chinese are giving as much aid as ever to the guerillas in the hills of

Thailand and Malaysia. 'I think we have to start realising that China can never turn its back on these insurgencies,' a Malaysian Foreign Office official glumly conceded last week. We can 't really hope that simply by establishing friendly relations with China our problems will go away. '

I again refer to my experience in China with the parliamentary delegation this year. In the space of 14 days I travelled constantly with officers of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Department. Interpreters and other senior officials were engaged in conversations as we travelled on the long plane trips between the centres of population. Honourable senators can imagine that there would be plenty of time for discussion. We did have discussion. We were constantly told, as the Prime Minister was told, that China seeks to maintain friendly relations with all countries on the basis of the 5 principles of peaceful coexistence. These 5 principles of peaceful co-existence are principles of unexceptional acceptibility and integrity. Naturally we want to maintain the sovereignty of every other country and we want them to agree not to interfere with other countries. But in the course of these conversations to which I am referring one sought to find out how this squared with the Chinese Communist Party's support of insurgency movements.

It was a very interesting period of discussion because at first it was simply acknowledged that the Chinese Communist Party would give moral support, that it would give printing support, that it would give radio support, and that it would enable broadcasts to be made from Chinese bases to the various countries in Asia in which these insurgencies were occurring. Then, as we developed further the arguments about the finance for these movements and about the arms which are found and which are made in China, the claims I made were conceded point by point. Ultimately, we received acknowledgment from the Chinese officials with whom we were travelling that we ought to understand that China's support for insurgency movements or liberation movements was a complete exception to the principles of peaceful co-existence. To us it just seems incredible that this position can be maintained as the official stance of the Government; that in a public view through the Foreign Office, China can maintain friendly relations with other countries but through the international secretariat which is the foreign branch of the Chinese Communist Party it is seeking to undermine governments in these countries. Why should we be deaf to what the Chinese representatives themselves are saying? On 2 October of this year at the Twenty-eighth United Nations General Assembly the Chairman of the Chinese delegation, Chiao Kuan-hua, gave a speech in which he indicated quite clearly the policies to which China is committed. For example, he stated:

A small nation can defeat a big one and a weak nation can defeat a strong one, so long as they dare to struggle, are good at struggle and persevere in struggle. It is not the people who fear imperialism; it is imperialism which fears the people. Revolution is the main trend in the world today. Now that the war in Vietnam has ended, can it be assumed that the world will henceforth be tranquil? Obviously not.

Then further on in the same speech he stated, speaking for the Chinese Government:

.   . we hold one should not forget how harmful the absurd theory of so-called 'peaceful transition' is to the anti-imperialist revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American people . . .

Obviously the Chinese Government in its philosophy, in its statements and in the support which it gives to insurgency movements in Asia and right through the African countries is as committed to the concept of revolution as Marx and Lenin were in their original doctrines. It is no mischance that the Chinese supported Communist Parties throughout the world are called Marxist-Leninist because they still hold to the doctrine of Marx and Lenin. The quotation which I have read today is not from some ancient cold war period. It is the report of a speech delivered less than a month ago in the United Nations General Assembly. These are matters which ought to be recognised as some of the factors of which we must take account in our relationships with China. The Prime Minister in his speeches in China and in the statement which he has made to this Parliament has not adverted in any way to those matters. He has not indicated how he explains away these matters to countries in our neighbouring area who are concerned about them. I refer again to the article by Mr Jenkins to which I referred earlier. He stated: . . Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew declared recently . . . with unabashed concern ... 'A collapse in Indo-China will bring advanced threat of guerrilla insurgency to our doorsteps by way of Thailand and West Malaysia.'

It is a fact of life that we cannot blind our eyes to the situation simply by believing that because we have friendly relations with the People's Republic of China these things can be discarded and forgotten. They will still remain. I remember that a gentleman with an umbrella went to Berchtesgaden in 1938 and came back with the cry: 'Peace with honour. I have met the man, I believe him'. But the problems which he desired to solve were still there and they erupted within the space of 1 8 months. There are so many other matters which we could raise and which are unresolved in terms of what the Prime Minister has said. What is involved in this concept of a meaningful relationship? What is the position with regard to the Middle East? In the same speech to the United Nations in October the People 's Republic of China made it abundantly clear that it supported the Arab nations in what is called 'their just struggle against Israeli Zionism'. While we have the situation which currently exists in the Middle East aided and abetted and to a degree fomented by the Chinese Communist Government, we can never be satisfied that all that is said about peace is in fact meaningful. But where does Australia stand in relation to these attitudes to China? In terms of what America, Singapore and the United Kingdom does, we have a Prime Minister who has not hesitated to say what he thinks. He says that as between friends you can be frank and open. But if he has the same sort of friendship with China, why did he adopt a different stance- if he does adopt a different stance with China. These are the uncertainties which are not answered by what the Prime Minister has said. I think that for all the satisfaction which Australian people can take from the way in which the Prime Minister personally conducts himself, they will have a very real apprehension as to these unanswered questions in our relationship.







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