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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 2108

Senator SIM (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - In directing this question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs I refer once again to the expression used by the Prime Minister, namely, that Australia's new aspiration is symbolised more in our relations with China than with any other country. Does the Minister agree with the Prime Minister's statement? If so, will he make a statement to the Senate as to his interpretation of what is Australia's new aspiration and why it is symbolised more with China than with any other country?

Senator WILLESEE -I think that the remark to which Senator Sim has referred ought to be put into proper context. It was made in Peking on 31 October in response to a toast by Premier Chou En-lai at his welcoming banquet for the Australian party. As I understand it, the criticism that arises is that there seems to be an insinuation that the Prime Minister's remark implies uncritical support and gives undue weight to our relations with the People 's Republic of China. I have been trying to analyse the remark and people have asked me to analyse it. I have been asked questions on what was in the Prime Minister's mind. I am afraid that I still cannot answer that. But I can give the honourable senator some information that has relationship to the matter. I think that the criticisms ignore the context of the Prime Minister's statement. The Prime Minister's preceding remarks included the following observations:

Our concern is no longer exclusively with nations in far removed areas of the globe. Now it is with all nations and particularly those with whom we share a common environment and common interests and with whom we seek relationships of equality. In Peking today we give expression to our new international outlook. With no nation is our new aspiration symbolised more than it is with China, a power not only in our region but in the world.

It is clear from the context of the Prime Minister's remarks that the Government's concern is to seek relationships of equality with all nations rather than to concentrate on relations with just a few. The establishment of diplomatic relations with China was one of the first foreign policy initiatives of the new Government and it is thus a convenient symbol of this new international outlook.

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