The Organising Committee of Year 2002 Australia-China Festival
6 December 2002
Rule of Law and Culture
Michael C. H. Jones,
Former Australian Prime Minister
It gives me great pleasure to be with you this afternoon – especially in my hometown of Sydney where the Chamber was founded on the 16th of September 1976.
As you probably know ACCCI operates throughout Australia and New Zealand and throughout all the provinces of China including Chinese Taipei. We are strictly a non-government, non-profit and voluntary association of business organisations dedicated to the strengthening and deepening of economic relations between Australia and China.
Indeed this year – 2002 – I have visited China officially on four (4) occasions and specifically to about 20 provinces where I have addressed meetings in over forty (40) cities and towns.
The themes of these four visits were as follows:
In January/February on Australian Education and
In April on Investment in Australia and New Zealand
and Rural Industries
In June on Vocational Training, Technology and
· In October/November on Law, Tourism and Culture
All of these visits were programmed to facilitate the ACCCI Key Cities Strategy that is directed to about 200 Chinese cities and 100 Australian and New Zealand cities, which can be found, or soon will be placed, on the ACCCI Website at www.accci.com.au
Now I think you will all agree with me when I say that we citizens of the world live during the first years of the 21st century in very unsettled times. For example the uncertainties of aircraft travel, hotel choice and attendance at large gatherings of people, are playing on all our minds. Terrorism is terrorism whether or not it is in a just cause or an unjust cause.
This global instability brought on by planned random acts of terrorism as well as threats of pre-emptive military strikes in defence, is placing almost unbearable strains on previously accepted international norms of behaviour by recognised governmental agencies.
RULE OF LAW AND THE CULTURAL VALUES THAT UNDERPIN THIS UNVERSAL ASPIRATION OF ALL CIVILISED SOCIETIES IS UNDER SERIOUS THREAT NOT ONLY FROM THE TERRORISTS BUT ALSO FROM SOME OF THOSE WHO WOULD HOLD THEMSELVES OUT AS FIGHTING TERRORISM.
Even more then ever we must all be aware that “the last refuge of the scoundrel is patriotism”.
What do I mean by ‘rule of law’ and ‘culture’ and how do these concepts relate to trade and economic relations and especially between Australia and China?
Australia is a trading nation – our history since 1788 has been about the sea and air communications and transportation of people and goods – or migration/tourism and imports/exports. World wars, Depressions, ideological struggles and all the other regional and global dislocations of the past 200 years have threaten the security of a small in population country that still has less than 25 million throughout Australasia.
On the other hand China historically over 5000 years looked North and West to Continental Asia for its security. Only since the 1840s has China gradually moved its focus to the East and South, and only since December 1978 has the official government policy been to open up and particularly in the area of trade and economic relations with its Pacific regional and later global partners.
The continued economic development of China in part depends on global stability. And therefore this relates directly to the policies of the Chinese government and its wholehearted participation in the affairs of the world. What is in the best interest of China and the Chinese people? The answer was membership of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and is both the signature and ratification of the two United Nation’s Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Human Rights and Civil and Political Human Rights.
In the words of President Jiang Zemin, the best interest of China lies in his philosophy of the ‘Three Represents’ that includes the rooting out of corruption in public life throughout China and the admission of business people to the Chinese Communist Party.
All of these issues are ‘rule of law’ matters with Chinese characteristics – not the same as Australia or in the US or UK with their Anglo-Saxon common law heritages, but moving in a parallel direction from vastly different cultural backgrounds.
It is vital that when we come together today in Sydney Australia we recognise this bigger picture – of two great cultural streams of East and West moving in parallel towards a new global society based on the stability of ‘rule of law’ as the only way to guaranteed our global economic future.
Australia can only play a small but unique role in this process. But our traditions of adherence to the universal norms and procedures of the United Nations are unchallengeable. Our love of freedom and liberty and constitutional government are second to none. We will never allow those who preach war on one evil – terrorism – to introduce another evil – abrogation of human rights and rule of international law.
The Chamber of which I have had the great privilege and honour to lead since June 1989 will continue to enunciate these values. And I know China will do the same.
It is mandatory for all international business people such as ourselves to work strenuously for global peace with human rights, otherwise the economic stability and certainty necessary for trade and investment will be in jeopardy. Despite our vast cultural differences, the rule of international law is the only way to achieve this objective.
you for your attention.