Author: charles koon
Date: 08-06-12 19:27
There are countries which, due to different reasons, like to be led by their nose. At least some past leader dares to speak out on truth.
AUSTRALIA is circling too close in America's orbit and must take a more independent approach to the growing Chinese powerhouse in Asia, former prime minister Paul Keating has warned.
As the Gillard government prepares to launch its new strategic blueprint on the ''Asian century'', Mr Keating has also directly confronted criticism of China's human rights record, saying the West too easily discounts the Communist rulers' success in alleviating poverty.
''A 10th of humanity lifted to a way better life in a single generation, yet the seemingly perpetual invocation of this human rights mantra attributes no moral value to the scale and quality of the Chinese achievement,'' he said in Sydney yesterday at the launch of a new book by the Australian National University strategic studies expert Hugh White on US ties with China, a relationship Mr Keating said was central for Australia's peace and prosperity.
Dismissing the notion the US could hope to dominate Asia militarily, Mr Keating said peace in the region lay in accommodating China as a ''great power''.
He criticised both Coalition and Labor governments over the past decade for surrendering Australia's foreign policy to Washington and a drift towards confrontation with Beijing.
''The presumption has been that the foreign policy of Australia is somehow synonymous with the foreign policy of the United States,'' he said.
''This, of course, could never have been broadly true, notwithstanding the points of coincidence from time to time in our respective national interests.''
Mr Keating, who chairs an international advisory council of the China Development Bank, said the relatively rapid rise of China would demand ''points of differentiation'' for Australia.
Professor White, argues in his new book, The China Choice, that the US and China should forge a consensus over shared influence in the region to avoid a dangerous confrontation spiralling into warfare.
The book has sparked fierce debate in foreign policy circles over its diagnosis of America's ills.
University of Sydney China specialist John Lee said it was too early for Australia to call for the US to treat China as an equal.
''No one in the region wants that right now,'' he said, adding it would only cause friction with Washington without much evidence it would achieve much with Beijing.
''Even if we keep quiet about human rights, the problems we have with China will persist.''
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