A test of Kevin Rudd’s “metal”

Darrin Hodges analyses the impact of Prime Minister Rudd’s pro-China sympathies upon the issues of human rights and mining interests, discussing the intent of the PM that some regard as “China’s man in Canberra”.

By the time this article is published Kevin Rudd will have already met with Chinese president Hu Jintao (9th of May 2008). Rudd will be having to balance his Sinophilia against the interests of the Australian mining interests and also against the human rights issues in Tibet.

Chinese Authorities have been denying port permits and instructing Chinese steel producers not to accept the “spot” ore shipments from either BHP or Rio Tinto, because under current contract, both companies are allowed to move up to 10% of ore from longterm price markets on to the spot market price which can fetch up to $100 a tonne more. Since it’s contractual and it is the responsibility of the companies to return maximum profit to the share-holders, these companies are doing nothing illegal. They are both looking for a geographic shipping premium as well, due to the fact that Australia is closer to China than the Brazilian ore producers.

China of course resents paying the extra prices (even though it is contractual) and has previously attempted to prevent the BHP/Rio Tinito duopoloy from becoming a monopoly by buying shares in Rio Tinto (through Chinalco) in an attempt to block the BHP bid for Rio. Who said communists wouldn’t make good capitalists? Why shouldn’t China pay a premium for Australian ore? It is after all our children’s capital we are virtually giving away so the Chinese can turn it into cheap junk, Australia is not a Chinese quarry.

Will Kevin Rudd be able to use his “China expertise” to end an embargo that has cost over $300,000,000 so far? Or will he utter some platitudes in order to assure his friends the Chinese? Will he do what is in the interests of Australia or what is in the interests of the China-Australia relationship? Not only is Rudd a Sinophile, he has surrounded himself with a coterie of Sinophiles, chief amongst them is Rudd’s economics advisor Professor Ross Garnaut, who is famous for stating that bilateral trade agreements are a form of “protectionism by stealth” and he believes that FTA’s outside of the WTO standards run the danger of reversing globalism.

It’s also no surprise to find that not only was Kevin Rudd the head of the “China department” of KPMG during the 1980s and was forever reminding us that he was an “underemployed diplomat” (in China) during the last federal election campaign, Prof. Garnaut was also an ambassador to China at the time Kevin Rudd was a junior diplomat. Given that sort of environment, it would seem that Chinese-Australian relations will have a higher priority than purely Australian interests as far as Rudd is concerned. It would of course be super convenient if this current Chinese blockade against Australian ore were solved before Rudd’s Chinese visit.

The other point of interest surrounding Rudd’s visit to China will be how he balances Tibet against his Sinophillia. I have little doubt that his meeting with the Chinese government will be little more than them telling him what he should say in respect to Tibet.

So it’s fairly certain we’ll hear more platitudes calling for the Chinese government to show “restraint”, which is much different to his response to the Burmese Junta’s crack down on protesters while Rudd was in opposition, as pointed out by Greens leader Bob Brown and it’s not often that I’d admit to agreeing with what he says –

“I can’t believe that this prime minister has been so effectively silent, except for calling for restraint, whatever that is,” Senator Brown said.

“When the Burmese crisis was on last year. …. this prime minister called on the then (Howard) government for targeted sanctions against the Burmese regime and for coordinated worldwide condemnation of Burma.

Now, we’ve got the same thing happening in Tibet and the prime minister, who’s made such a feature of his understanding and relationship with China, is effectively saying nothing.”

Once again the strong China-centered Labor party policy comes to the fore when Rudd’s foreign minister Stephen Smith says that Labor has recognized China’s sovereignty over Tibet for the last 35 years. He said,

whilst we have … accepted Chinese territorial sovereignty over Tibet, we do believe the people of Lhasa and the people of Tibet are entitled to the sorts of civil liberties we regard as fairly standard”.

If the Rudd government had been in power during the 1930s, the above quote could be easily rewritten as

whilst we have … accepted German territorial sovereignty over Poland, we do believe the people of Poland are entitled to the sorts of civil liberties we regard as fairly standard”.

Rudd lives and breathes China; as opposition foreign minister he made a trip to China (and other countries) financed by a Mr. Tang. Mr Tang also reportedly escorted Mr Rudd and Mr Swan during a (separate) trip to China in 2004. Mr Tang is involved at some level or another with a Mr Ho. Mr Ho is one of the wealthiest men in Asia due to his previous control of the gambling industry in Macao. Mr Ho also donated at least $109,000 to the Labor party prior to last year’s federal election so the Rudd Labor government will be dancing to the tune of the Pipa or perhaps Rudd is the “Manchurian candidate” of Australian politics.

It’s clear though that the Rudd government represents one of the most dangerous governments in this country since Whitlam and given the fact that every state and territory is controlled by Labor, Australia has effectively become a defacto socialist state – little wonder then that the Chinese government approved of and congratulated the election of the Rudd Labor government.

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