PAUL KEATING. Australia’s security agencies and ‘pious’ media lead the anti-China rhetoric

Former PM Paul Keating has accused institutions of failing to grasp the magnitude of shifting power in the Asia Pacific and has warned Australia’s approach to China has been supplanted by the phobias of security agencies and the hysteria of “pious” and “do-gooder” journalists.

In a typically excoriating speech, the former prime minister lambasted Australian security agencies and the media for their anti-China rhetoric, saying they failed to grasp the magnitude of shifting power in the Asia Pacific.

Keating accused the Australian media of “hysteria” and security agencies of undermining the nuance and flexibility of Australian diplomacy.

“My concern is that what passes for the foreign policy of Australia lacks any sense of strategic purpose,” he said in a speech to the Australian’s Strategic Forum event in Sydney.

“The whispered word of ‘communism’ of old is now being replaced by the word ‘China’.

“The reason that we have ministries and cabinets is that a greater and eclectic wisdom can be brought to bear on complex topics… this process is not working in Australia. The subtleties of foreign policy and the elasticity of diplomacy are being supplanted by the phobias of a group of security agencies which are now effectively running the foreign policy of the country.”

Keating said the Australian media had been “up to its ears” in drumming up anti-China hysteria. He singled out the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, but also criticised the Australian, which was hosting the event Keating spoke at on Monday. He said the media wrongly equated the actions of individual businessmen or universities with the acts of the entire Chinese state. The long-term national interest should guide Australia’s approach to China, Keating said, not “pious”, “do-gooder” journalists who were “fed on leaks” from security agencies and failed to appreciate the magnitude of the shifting dynamics in the region.

“The Australian media has been recreant in its duty to the public in failing to present a balanced picture of the rise and legitimacy and importance of China, preferring instead to traffic in side plays dressed up with the cosmetics of sedition and risk.”

Keating, who championed Australian engagement in the Asia Pacific as prime minister, said the United States had ceded influence and withdrawn from the region as it returned to an “America-first” posture. That was unlikely to change, regardless of who wins the next US presidential election, Keating said. That left Australia in the “deep blue sea” between two great powers.

Keating said Australia must adopt strategic realism in its approach to China and not force upon itself a choice of one great power over the other.

Keating said the prevailing attitude in Australia assumed China’s growth was somehow illegitimate. He countered that China had lifted 20% of humanity out of poverty through its vast economic growth, a feat unprecedented in human history. He argued Australia frequently dealt with states that were not democracies to advance its own national interest, pointing to the west’s alliance with the Soviet Union in the second world war which prevented a German victory.

Keating said no other state, including India, would catch up to China in terms of economic growth, while Donald Trump’s America was retreating within itself, with no appetite for military conflict with China.

( Comment.. But why did Paul Keating let the ABC off the hook? It is a leader in the anti China panic. John Menadue)

Extract from The Guardian, 18 November 2019 and written by Christopher Knaus


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11 Responses to PAUL KEATING. Australia’s security agencies and ‘pious’ media lead the anti-China rhetoric

  1. Avatar Luca Biason says:

    Paul Keating arrogance is breathtaking, and so are the abstractions everyone appears to cling to, to further this ‘good-China, bad-China’ circus. It’s Xi’s China that has to be resisted. I never see any mentions here of the China Dream as per Xi’s interpretation, and its ramifications, the AI Development Plan, the MCF, the National Intelligence legal framework. As one reads these trends, they would be excused believing that we could save money and sack everyone in the intelligence agencies, as the bloggers here have clearly access to much greater insights and details.
    I am looking forward to the same degree of self-scrutiny once the full picture of China’s infiltration comes finally out, and the same keenness to identify those who furthered apologist stances under clear conflicts of interest.

  2. Mike Scrafton Mike Scrafton says:

    There can be no ignoring, tolerance, or acceptance of what is happening to the Uighurs without abandoning all claims to justice. That said, foreign and defence policy must be based on realistic assessments of the interests of Australians.

    While not avoiding criticism of China, or any state where force is employed (India in Kashmir, Israel in Gaza, Brazil in the Amazon..etc) to rob people of their dignity, rights and freedoms, it is not in the interests of Australians to be in the vanguard of a Crusade against China. The military and economic power imbalance is enormous and Australia could not prevail in a contest in either domain.

    The debate on China is shrill and generally not very informative in Australia. From Europe the Australian government and much of the commentariat seem lost in a fog of paranoia. The Europeans are taking a mature, balanced, flexible but still principled approach to China. There is a bit to be learned from them.

  3. Avatar Anthony Pun says:

    Story: Paul Keating says Australia is failing to adapt to China’s rise
    Former PM Paul Keating’s statements about the acceptance of a rising China and how to deal with it, must heeded by our current leaders in the government. The containment of China’s rise by weaponizing human rights, trade, political ideology only serves to a self-fulfilling prophesy of having a war with China, and yet China has not shown evidence of being a threat or enemy and our No.1 trading partner. Keating’s statesman-like wisdom should be applauded and listened to. (comment appeared in SMH 18Nov2019).

  4. Avatar Rex Williams says:

    ………journalists who were “fed on leaks” from security agencies and failed to appreciate the magnitude of the shifting dynamics in the region.

    Security agencies, yes ……but also the US / Israel owned media and News Agencies. Ex-Australian Murdoch being a example. Been that way for decades. Nothing new here. But getting our feeble politicians to face such reality is an impossibility. They soak up the details that flow from Canberra’s secret little buildings. However, the most notable success and benefit for Australia from those directions is now a respected and valued federal member for Tasmania. As well, we have witness “K”, a courageous whistleblower of Timor Leste fame, still being persecuted by this government for the crimes of a Minister and his security team in one of those secret little buildings. What a humiliating act for Australia, that was in 2004. Still on the go.

    One feels that in reading a rational comment from Paul Keating there is still a chance that this country, existing as it does ‘off the coast of Asia’, may eventually construct a parliament of like-minded and intelligent members. This is a sad country, known by the rest of the world as a totally controlled US lapdog. However, nothing will change while we continue to listen to the ramblings and distortions from the likes of Marise Payne, an even worse example of a US stooge than was Julie Bishop, if that is at all possible.

    Yes. For those of us around at the end of WWII, it is well remembered the almost impossible status of China, which as Paul Keating stated has now lifted 20% of humanity out of abject poverty through its vast economic growth, never such an achievement before in history. But all we can hear from Marise Payne is the questioning of the fate of the Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang and the directives from Xi Jinping to “show absolutely no mercy” in the “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism”.

    What have we ever heard from this political charlatan about the 50 years of hateful and illegal military rule by Israel? Nothing. Fifty long years of murder, land theft and apartheid by a military occupier, the most disliked state in modern history. Are Palestinians shown any mercy as they struggle against Israeli ‘terrorism’, and blatant ‘separatism’?
    Such hypocrisy fills the corridors in Canberra every day.

    Payne, like her predecessor, will continue to direct Australia’s vote at the toothless United Nations, not as the people of Australia would want it, but as directed by the USA and the LNP political sponsors, the Melbourne-based Australian Israel Jewish Affairs Council, AIJAC.

    Thanks, Paul Keating. We have one rational and realistic Australian left from a lost period when we had a right to be really proud of Australia, as it was then. Our total foolish disparaging of China, the disregard for their magnificent achievements, the basis of this report of the Keating talk, is already seen by so many realists as a slowly tightening noose around our neck.

  5. Avatar jim kable says:

    Largely agree with Paul – and with your added question, John!

  6. Avatar steve johnson says:

    I was just reading through Keating’s best barbs and I realised Paul Keating is only 75. All those dudes in the US (or most) are older then him and his old recalcitrant sparring partner Mahathir Mohamad is 94. Surely we could slip him back into Labor to take over from Albanese, Shorten and the like. He should never have been kicked out – what a succession of wet lettuce leaves we have had since his demise. We could then have a leader who knows how to lead and provide a spontaneous comedic script at the same time. e.g. “Oh, look, it’s just Howard being Howard, isn’t it, you know? The little desiccated coconut’s under pressure and he’s attacking anything he can get his hands on”. If we canna get him back to parliament, at least give him a TV show.

  7. Avatar steve johnson says:

    ASIS was working in Chile in 1973 and disobeyed Whitlam’s order to leave. He then sacked the head of ASIS as the ASIS operatives were working with the CIA in the overthrow of the Allende government. The security agencies are more subtle these days but in effect push the US State Department’s point of view under the guise of ‘protecting Australia’ from the new bogeyman, China. In the old days that game of dominos was played out by the US with the Dulles brothers using the old bogeyman ‘communism’ to bash their ‘allies’ around the head. America always needs an ongoing enemy, mythical or otherwise, to justify their military/industrial machine and cover up their human rights transgressions.

  8. Avatar Hal Duell says:

    As huge as it is, the failure to appreciate the magnitude of the shifting dynamics in the Asia Pacific is only part of the problem.
    The problem is world wide.
    So far I have heard no criticism from either the Coalition or from Labor of the recent coup in Bolivia, the ongoing attempt to usurp the legitimate government in Venezuela, the demonisation of Putin and all things Russian and the patently absurd and doomed-to-fail attempt to undermine POTUS thru first Russiagate and now Ukrainegate.
    And heaven forbid that we should hear any criticism of Israel.
    We are in thrall to a government of robber barons. From the Coalition I expect nothing else, but why is Labor so spineless? Ms Penny Wong is using her well modulated voice to say exactly nothing.

  9. Avatar Barney Swartz says:

    John, I rather resent being told I am panicking about China because I take a different line from the China apologists. Bob Carr was certainly funded at one stage by China; I’m not sure about Keating, but I may have heard that. As former federal MPs, their responsibility is to Australia.
    Of course we have to accommodate ourselves and build a workable relationship with China and accept that we differ on all sorts of important thing, especially the desirable form of government. But we do not have to have the sort of sycophantic relationship we have with the US, from which we are just starting to distance ourselves because of their squalid, erratic, untrustworthy President.
    As a middle-ranking power, provided we act with similar powers, such as Japan and South Korea, we can exercise some small check on Chinese bad behaviour, while applauding and encouraging Chinese good behaviour.

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