Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating was seen in conversation with Laura Tingle on Australia’s strategic framework at the National Press Club.
In his talk, Keating said Taiwan is not a vital Australian interest, mocked and denounced the AUKUS security pact, accused Australian political parties of losing their way on foreign policy and asked to give it respect to China, and believed that the Australian public was being led astray on China by a debate dominated by intelligence services.
When asked how Australia could resurrect its relationship with China he said Beijing was keen for more respect from Australia
“What the Chinese want, I think, is respect for what they have created.”
On being pointed to human rights abuse in China, Keating diverted and instead pointed finger at India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We should always speak out human rights, we should always reserve the right to speak out on human rights, whether it’s the Uyghurs in China, but can I also say, it’s the Muslims in Kashmir. Here is Prime Minister Modi, our new friend, who has suspended, repudiated the autonomy of Kashmir, which is 94% Muslim. No wave of indignation in the Sydney Morning Herald or the Age about that.
I mean, India is an ally. We don’t talk about allies, we only talk about notional enemies.”
In his conversation, he mentioned India’s Kashmir twice and abolishing Article 370 in 2019.
The criticism of India’s actions, as Jahnavi Sodhi points in her article, came from some Muslim nations and known anti-India politicians in the West who were part of Pakistan-sponsored committees and think-tanks.
Most regional organisations didn’t oppose India thus pointing to the nation’s logical steps in bringing peace and also pointing to India’s global standing as an economic, strategic, and geopolitical power.
Keating didn’t point to China’s actions in Hong Kong or its military and economic support to Pakistan who is creating problems through Islamist jihadi terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir.
Also at no point, he feel it ideal to use this stage to highlight the recent macabre genocidal-level events and destitute conditions of Hindus, Sikhs, and other minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
In 2015, Keating was in Delhi and met with Modi – a meeting that was soon forgotten given the fact that Keating’s views didn’t matter for either Australia or India.
In September 2019, Keating in his opinion piece denounced India.
Keating said that he cannot imagine India coming to help Australia in case of a war with China.
“The moment a loud shot was fired, the Indians would lock themselves in their peninsula and the Japanese would do what they always do, negotiate from under the table.
That would leave the United States and mugs like us carrying a military fight to the Chinese all by our righteous selves.”
Dr. Lavina Lee, an expert in international relations at Macquarie University, in her opinion piece pointed to India’s strengthened defence cooperation and countered Keating’s argument.
“Keating sets up and takes down a strawman in dismissing India, and therefore the Quad, on the basis that India is not a formal ally and is unlikely to commit its blood to common cause.
If that were the standard, one might as well dismiss the importance of Australia’s relationships with regional countries such as Indonesia.”
While recent events have clearly proven that China is openly threatening anyone who doesn’t follow its dictate, Keating argued at NPC that Beijing’s threat to the existing world order had been wildly overstated.
“China does not represent a contiguous threat to Australia.”
Liberal party senator James Paterson told the Guardian that Keating’s assessment is “out of date”.
“…he does not even reflect the views of the Labor party he once led. His views on China are out of date and out of touch.”
On Keating’s strange preference and support for China, Sky News host Rita Panahi said it seemed he “kowtow to China.”
In fact, he even cited a recent speech by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, for the Australian public to believe that Beijing would try to resolve the matter harmoniously.
He did not bother to touch upon Chinese political influence through ‘debt trap’ diplomacy and coercion over India’s neighbours Bangladesh, Nepal, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
As a seasoned politician, Keating is knowledgeable of India’s bilateral and trilateral alliances and collaborations from security to COVID-19 vaccines that make India a preferred peaceful partner. He is also well aware that the international community accepts India’s preference for its strategic autonomy and internal matters that would deter both China and Pakistan from using military force against India and its allies in the region.
Paul John Keating was elected to the House of Representatives in 1969 as the Member for Blaxland and in 1975 he became the youngest ever federal Minister. In 1991, Keating became Prime Minister in December 1991 and led the ALP again in March 1993. However, following the defeat of the ALP in March 1996, Mr. Keating resigned from Parliament.
WATCH VIDEO: Paul Keating addresses the National Press Club on Australia’s strategic framework