Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 8 News List


While the two moves may have been synchronous, and the triggers identical, the motives would appear poles apart. It could well be argued that Taiwan itself has been the political agitator in this instance, as your motives for gaining recognition are not arguably altruistic. Rather than "helping China interfere," it is a statement of fact that Australia has made no conditions on the supply of aid relative to Vanuatu's relationship with Taiwan. Its "interference" is the action of a donor nation ensuring that welfare given in good faith is delivered to those it was intended for, nothing more.

As for Australia "shifting the focus from Europe to Asia," Yang again misleads your readership. Under the Howard government, Australia has in fact turned its focus back toward the US, and to a lesser degree, the UK, shunning the pro-Asia advances made in the early 1990s under former prime minister Paul Keating's labor government. Military support, political support, and the creation of a free-trade agreement are bonds that have been recently forged among the "coalition of the willing" -- the US, the UK and Australia.

Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed told the world this week that we [Australians] are "Europeans... who have nothing to offer the ASEAN pact." Hardly a focus on Asia. It may come as a disappointment to your readers to learn that Australians are relatively uneducated about the Taiwan-China impasse. Right or wrong, our local economy, interest rates, illegal immigrants and homeland security form the nucleus of our immediate concerns. Our big businesses see China as a market for our natural resources -- and hopefully our skilled labor -- but to suggest that we would be either wanting, or needing, to act as a puppet for China in Oceania is to create a specter that simply does not exist.

Wayne Kerr


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