Paul Keating ‘delusional’ and ‘out of line’ on China

Nov 12, 2021
Paul Keating under fire for latest China comments. Source: Getty Images

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has come under fire for his outdated views on China, with his comments being labelled “entirely wrong” and a throwback to the 70s, on the ABC’s influential Q+A program.

Keating told the National Press Club on Wednesday, November 10, that Australia should stay out of China’s ongoing dispute with Taiwan and that “China does not represent a contiguous threat to Australia,” as reported by the ABC.

“Taiwan is not a vital Australian interest. We have no alliance with Taipei, none,” he said.

“China doesn’t want American (and Australian) naval forces influencing. It wants access out of its coast into the deeper waters of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific.

“That’s what it’s about fundamentally.”

Keating also criticised the current Morrison government for failing to establish its position in the region and that the nation’s foreign policy appeared uncertain.

“China is simply too big and too central to be ostracised,” he said.

“We are still trying to find our security from Asia rather than in Asia.”

Nine’s political editor Chris Uhlmann told Q+A that Keating was “entirely wrong” with his comments on China.

“He said China was not a threat,” he said.

“I have a list in front of me that was handed to my colleague last year of 14 demands of Australia that was handed to him by a Chinese official and it was backed in by the foreign ministry and by the Chinese media.

“It complains about the fact Chinese companies have been stopped from foreign investment, that we banned Huawei from the rolling out of 5G, called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 and things our MPs and papers say.

“If you don’t believe there’s a clear and present danger, there is a threat from China, you’re either delusional or wilfully blind.”

International relations expert Lavina Lee said Keating’s views on China and foreign policy were outdated.

“When you listen to Paul Keating, he’s got a very benign view of China that’s based on a 1970s assessment of its foreign policy objectives,” she said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison hit back at Keating’s comments, telling the Today Show that his views were “out of line”.

“We’ve taken a very strong position here in the Indo-Pacific and we’ve taken a very strong stance standing up for Australia’s interests. And we’ve worked closely with our allies and our partners right across the region, not just the United States, but of course, Japan and India and the many nations of ASEAN who we work closely with, to make sure that we aren’t pushed around in this part of the world,” he said.

What do you think of Keating's latest comments on foreign affairs?

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up