FitzGerald, Stephen : Managing Australian foreign policy in a Chinese world

Stephen FitzGerald

Managing Australian foreign policy in a Chinese world‘, The Conversation, 17 March 2017

An edited extract of the 2017 Whitlam Oration, delivered by Stephen FitzGerald, Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China (1973-76), at the Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University, on 16 March 2017. It looks at the ambitions that Prime Minister Whitlam had for the Australia-China relationship, ambitions, FitzGerald says, that have not been realised. We need to have such a relationship now. ‘Why? Because we are living in a Chinese world.’

As for the implications of Trump, FitzGerald says this:

For Australia, if you didn’t already think we should have a more hard-headed, more independent relationship within the alliance, Trump’s ascension has laid bare the danger of our dependence, our unquestioning involvement with America’s foreign contests and wars, and the delusion that our interests and America’s are the same, or that the US cares about ours.

And if you didn’t already question aspects of the indiscriminate claim to shared values with the US – for example, America’s gun culture, religion in politics, or plutocratic government – the values Trump brings to the presidency, including his assault on the values we do share, and the idea of truth, facts and integrity in public life, are an affront to ours and should be called out for what they are.

FitzGerald goes on discuss issues in detail and then sets out principles for a durable Australian foreign policy: priority for the relationship with China; a sharper focus on Asia; ensuring independence within a continuing relationship with the United States; leadership by the prime minister, supported by strong advisory mechanisms.

Full transcript and video of the speech. Similar issues are canvassed in Alison Broinowski’s chapter in The Honest History Book and have been a focus of Honest History in recent months (see items tagged ‘Getting on with the world‘).

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