Skip to comments.Australia Told It Has Too Many Whites To Be Part Of Asia
Posted on 10/21/2003 5:32:56 PM PDT by blam
Australia told it has too many whites to be part of Asia
By Alex Spillius in Bangkok
Leaders of 21 Pacific Rim nations put on matching jackets of the finest Thai silk yesterday at the end of their summit, but this display of sartorial unity could not hide simmering tensions based on wealth, culture or race.
Presidents, monarchs and prime ministers as diverse as George W Bush and the Sultan of Brunei, representing 2.5 billion people and half the world's trade, announced broad agreements on promoting free trade and counter-terrorism.
It was not the superpower which drew the most flak from vocal Asian members of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Bangkok, but Australia.
Goh Chok Tong, Singapore's prime minister, took the first shot when he told a high-powered business leaders' meeting that Australia would be regarded as Asian only when the population "tips over 50 per cent non-whites and the rest whites".
Seven per cent of the 19.9 million population is Asian and 92 per cent white.
John Howard, the Australian prime minister, bridled at the remarks. "We have a non-discriminatory immigration policy and the idea that we should have our immigration policy determined by the declarations of anybody is ridiculous. We don't seek some kind of rating from anybody as far as our position in the region is concerned."
Hassan Wirayuda, Indonesia's foreign minister, said Australia needed to improve its profile in Asia, despite Mr Howard recently saying he felt relations had never been better between Australia and Indonesia, whose police forces have co-operated closely in pursuing terrorists.
Mr Howard arrived in Thailand both burdened and buoyed by Mr Bush's description of him as Washington's regional sheriff. Mahathir Mohamad, the outspoken Malaysian prime minister, who retires at the end of the month, said: "Whether it is Asian or not, Australia can make more effort to identify with Asia.
"We can't have a partner who is also a policeman. Asian countries don't go around telling other people how to run their countries.
"Australians are always casting aspersions on our judicial system, but [unlike Australia] we have a good history with our aboriginals. We didn't shoot them all dead or commit genocide."
Mr Howard responded curtly: "It is better to let him [Mahathir] recede gently into retirement. I don't intend to give him any kind of political valediction. I don't intend to talk about him, full stop."
The summit's declaration called for the revival of World Trade Organisation talks and agreed measures to increase global security.
Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!
Why, of course not. Membership in the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere was voluntary, and the Japanese Army was there to see that it stayed that way. That was after the Manchuria and Korea tour. And North Korea never told the South how to run itself, they only had a few thousand fellers in tanks make a couple of suggestions. Ditto for the North Vietnamese and their little Blitzkrieg. China and Tibet are best pals. Cambodia was just a vacation spot for all those Vietnamese soldiers. Is it "Burma" or still "Myanmar?" I forget. Oh, and that feller Ghengis Khan was just one big warm, fuzzy puppy...