On Monday, ABC’s panel programme The Drum discussed Australia’s complicated relationship with China, and the Chinese Communist Party’s government decision to deny MPs Andrew Hastie and James Paterson visas for a study tour.
Former foreign minister Bob Carr was invited, no doubt to show his insight and erudition as a global statesman. But all he showed was his pompous ignorance.
Taking aim at Hastie, who in August likened Australia’s faith in economic liberalism as a bulwark against Chinese to France’s faith in the Maginot Line as a bulwark against Nazi Germany, Carr agreed that the Chinese authorities should invited Hastie instead of rejecting him, adding that his first stop should be Nanking, where in 1938 the Japanese occupiers murdered and raped on a horrifying scale.
Carr went on to argue that millions of Chinese sacrificed their lives in the Second World War, tying down Japanese armies that otherwise could have been let loose invading Australia.
When host Julia Baird suggested that Hastie was actually protesting Chinese authoritarianism, Carr grandiloquently swept her aside, reminding her “the Chinese were on our side”.
Besides missing the point in his haste to harry Hastie as showing unwarranted disrespect to China, Carr humped history as well.
Yes, China was on our side in World War II. But it was not Red China, the international bully of today.
It was Nationalist China, led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. Mao Tse Tung and his communists contributed to the fight against the Japanese, but wherever they were a guerilla presence they did all they could to undermine the Nationalist regime and build support for Mao’s insurgency. They also used arms and ammunition captured from the Japanese in the 1946-49 civil war, instigated by the communists and culminating in their ultimate snaring power from a war-weakened Chiang in October 1949.
During the war the CCP, therefore, was on the CCP’s side, not Australia’s or even China’s.
So, using Carr’s logic, it was the Chiang regime and not Mao’s CCP on which on Monday he was lavishing lugubrious praise and rightly pointing out our wartime debt to it and China’s sacrifice.
Ergo, it is the Nationalist regime that still controls Taiwan that is the legitimate government of China, a government that over the decades has evolved into a liberal democratic counterpoint to the authoritarian, thuggish regime that holds sway over the Chinese mainland and its billion and a half people.
If Carr is indeed urging that Australia re-recognise the Taipei government as representing the true China, let’s listen to him. But he wasn’t: he was merely showing his abject, blindly pro-CCP, ignorance.
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