Australia's choice
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-19 07:56

The cancellation of a visit to Australia by Chinese vice-foreign minister is a restrained and reasonable response on the part of Beijing when that country has challenged China's core national interests.

There is no need for Canberra to feel "regret" over this incident, because a little soul-searching would point to the self-evident fact that it has no one other than itself to blame for the souring of Sino-Australian relations.

For reasons that only some of its sinophobic politicians could explain, Australia has made itself the champion leader of an anti-China chorus after the July 5 riots in Urumqi, in which nearly 200 innocent Chinese men, women and children were slaughtered by rioters.

Regardless of strong protests from China, Canberra insisted on granting a visa to Rebiya Kadeer, the mastermind behind the violent outrage in Urumqi, touting her "innocence" despite ample evidence given by China's national security authorities suggesting otherwise.

Canberra could cite its own "immigration procedures" and "national circumstance" to justify granting the visa. It might want to pamper those who are determined to "defy" and "embarrass" China out of domestic political concerns. But it had no reason to turn a blind eye to the simple truth that Kadeer is a criminal.

The World Uygur Congress (WUC), which Kadeer heads, instigated, masterminded and directed the deadly unrest in Urumqi. The organization has close connections with UN-designated terrorist group - the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), which has long sought to separate Xinjiang from China. For example, Dolqun Isa, WUC secretary general, is also ETLO vice-president.

By providing Kadeer a platform for anti-Chinese separatist activities, Canberra chose to side with a terrorist and severely hurt China's national interests. Such an act will definitely draw strong opposition and resentment from the Chinese government and people.

As if this one single issue was not enough to derail bilateral relations, Australian officials have also tried to interfere in China's judicial sovereignty by blatantly pressing China to be "fair" in handling the spy case involving four employees of Rio Tinto, one of whom is an Australian citizen. In doing so, they show contempt for the rule of law and go against international norms that underscore mutual respect.

The Australian government has said it wants deeper engagement with Asia, especially China. It has also claimed that the development of Sino-Australian relations serves the fundamental interests of both.

But the recent events and developments suggest that forces seeking to keep the two sides apart are thriving, and Canberra is responsible for that.

(China Daily 08/19/2009 page8)