The tiny coterie of regular readers of this blog will know I'm no fan of the ruling regime in China. I am a strident critic of China's human rights record and its colonial repression of Tibet. However, the recent foray of senior Opposition politicians into the realms of fear and smear is an egregious throwback to 'White Australia' thinking, much like Howard demonized Muslims to build populist support for his border control regime.
The Howard govt routinely avoided raising human rights issues with China in any meaningful way on its watch, treading the well-worn diplomatic path of annual bilateral dialogue on human rights that did not advance any of the key areas of concern one iota.
So, concerns over human rights have nothing to do with this attack on the Rudd government's links with China. Rudd has been labeled the 'Manchurian Candidate' and representing China's interests in the context of the G20. This is pretty low stuff; in fact, it is plumbing a barrel well scraped by Howard et al.
The psephology blog, Pollytics, had a piece on this yesterday.
Our engagement with China on the economic front provides opportunities to progress a human rights agenda. It is beholden on the Rudd Government to utilize its access to good affect and to not let China off the hook on human rights. However, the Opposition must be condemned for tapping into race politics in a tacky attempt to restore its political fortunes. Ugggh!