Paul Keating 2007

Is Paul Keating Stuck in a Time Warp?

21 August 2023

4.1 MINS

Former prime minister Paul Keating has launched another extraordinary spray at the Australian government’s foreign policies.

In an apparently unsolicited written statement, Mr Keating lambasted the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and its Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, while supporting Emmanuel Macron’s opposition to the organisation expanding into Asia. President Macron is incapable of delivering peace and security to his own country, but that is another story.

Condemning the “militarism of Europe”, Mr Keating stated that “exporting that malicious poison to Asia would be akin to Asia welcoming the plague upon itself.”

“Of all the people on the international stage, the supreme fool among them is Jens Stoltenberg, the current Secretary-General of NATO”, added Keating. “Stoltenberg, by instinct and by policy, is simply an accident on its way to happen.”

Mr Stoltenberg, the former Labour prime minister of Norway, has served in his current role since 2014.

His crime, in the eyes of Mr Keating, is to draw parallels between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s behaviour in Asia.

Coinciding with the visit by prime minister Anthony Albanese to Europe for a meeting of NATO in Lithuania, Keating’s statement was a direct assault on NATO and the foreign policies of the Australian government.

This is not the first outburst by Mr Keating about relations with China. It is no wonder that the CCP mouthpiece The Global Times praised Keating.

Last year, he proposed that Australia ditch its involvement in the QUAD and AUKUS arrangements.

Chip on His Shoulder

Mr Keating nurses a deep grievance towards the United States, which he attacked again in his recent statement. The US had not been ‘grateful’ enough for Australia’s contributions to global affairs, including the creation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group (APEC), he claimed last year.

“This (APEC) came out of the Australian foreign policy – this is my personal gift to the United States. They will give you no thanks and gratitude,” Mr ­Keating said. “The US is exceptionally ­ungrateful for people who have (supported it) for a lifetime. I am one of them. For two decades within the Labor Party… I supported the United States against what was then the pro-communist left.”

Indeed, the idea of APEC was first publicly broached by Prime Minister Hawke during a speech in Seoul, Korea, on 31 January 1989. Ten months later, twelve Asia-Pacific nations met in Canberra to establish the organisation.

Mr Keating has a misguided view of the Chinese communist regime. “The Chinese are not trying to overturn the existing system. Let’s get this clear: China is not the old Soviet Union. It’s not exporting ideology,” he said. This view stands in stark contrast to most observers of China, including another former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who claims that Xi Jinping has brought communist ideology back to the core of the country’s decision-making.

“The West ignores Xi’s ideological messaging at its own peril. No matter how abstract and unfamiliar his ideas might be, they are having profound effects on the real-world content of Chinese politics and foreign policy — and thus, as China’s rise continues, on the rest of the world,” Mr Rudd wrote in an essay published last year.

“Xi’s ideological beliefs have committed China to the goal of building what Xi describes as a ‘fairer and more just’ international system — one anchored in Chinese power rather than American power and one that reflects norms more consistent with Marxist-Leninist values.”

It would appear that Mr Keating is blind to what Mr Rudd describes as “the truth about China that is hiding in plain sight.”

Paul Keating was a member of parliament and prime minister of Australia until 1996. Much of his 27 years in political life coincided with the reign of Deng Xiaoping and his successors, such as Jiang Zemin, as leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. It was the period of Deng’s opening-up of the Chinese economy, of which Australia was a beneficiary.

Mr Keating’s views of China were formed during that era, and in his subsequent involvement with the Chinese Development Bank. It is a quarter of a century since Mr Keating sat in the National Security Committee, let alone received a briefing from the national security agencies. His political involvement was nearly 30 years ago, and during a far different era to the one of Xi Jinping. Mr Keating’s views about China seem to be stuck in a time warp.

Rose-Tinted Glasses

Mr Keating would have China dominate the Indo-Pacific. “The US could run the world co-operatively with China. In other words, the US consolidates the Atlantic, which includes bringing Russia into Europe, and in the east, the stability is provided by the Chinese,” he said.

According to Keating, the world would acquiesce to a Chinese take-over of Taiwan. “Taiwan, I repeat, is not of vital Australian interest,” he said last year. “If I’ve got any advice for them (the US), it’s to stick to strategic ambiguity like glue.”

The idea that Taiwan is not vital to Australia is misguided. A successful Chinese invasion of Taiwan would have one of two economic consequences; either the destruction of the island’s semi-conductor production; or the domination of the industry, if it survived invasion, by China. Either way, Australia — along with most of the world — would face disastrous economic consequences running to hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

Mr Keating envisages a benevolent Chinese Communist Party ruling the Indo-Pacific. He is particularly sensitive to any challenge to this utopian dream, including by NATO setting up an office in Japan.

Sensibly, the Australian government has ignored his advice. Prime Minister Albanese encouraged the Germans, for example, to have a greater naval presence in the Pacific.

Contrary to Mr Keating’s naivety, an emboldened China would not stop at Taiwan. China’s so-called first island line — its projected primary line of defence — extends to South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. It is already seeking to extend its influence throughout the Indo-Pacific, including to islands on our doorstep. Just this week, China and the Solomon Islands entered a comprehensive partnership that extends the CCP’s influence over the Pacific nation.

Under Keating’s scenario, the Indo-Pacific would become a vassal for Xi’s regime. A resource-rich Australia would be at the mercy of the CCP if Mr Keating’s scenario ever became a reality.


Originally published in the Epoch Times Australia. Photo: LD Percy/Wikimedia Commons

We need your help. The continued existence of the Daily Declaration depends on the generosity of readers like you. Donate now. The Daily Declaration is committed to keeping our site free of advertising so we can stay independent and continue to stand for the truth.

Fake news and censorship make the work of the Canberra Declaration and our Christian news site the Daily Declaration more important than ever. Take a stand for family, faith, freedom, life, and truth. Support us as we shine a light in the darkness. Donate now.


  1. Peter Pearce 21 August 2023 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Response to “Is Paul Keating Stuck in a Time Warp?” by Kevin Andrews

    While Kevin Andrews takes issue with Paul Keating’s stance on NATO’s activities in Asia, it’s imperative to question the former’s almost biased admiration for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). NATO’s expansion into Asia isn’t as transparent or benign as Andrews paints it. This expansion could lead to further destabilisation and unintentionally intensify the geopolitical tug-of-war that’s already underway. Although I don’t align with Keating’s position on China, I must acknowledge his critique on NATO is valid.

    Andrews attempts to discredit Keating’s position on China, seemingly as a smokescreen to divert attention from Keating’s criticisms of NATO’s expansion into Asia. Such tactics dilute the substance of the discourse. While Andrews may have reservations about Keating’s stance on China, using it to undermine valid concerns about NATO only reveals a lack of depth in the former’s arguments.

    It’s noteworthy that despite highlighting the aggressive behaviour of China in the Indo-Pacific region, Andrews doesn’t thoroughly interrogate the strategic motivations of NATO’s expansion into Asia. The assumption that Western or NATO influence in Asia is inherently stabilising might be overly simplistic. In fact, one might argue that such a move could be perceived as an act of aggression by regional powers, potentially exacerbating tensions rather than alleviating them.

    Although I disagree with Keating’s stance on China, I do resonate with Kevin Rudd’s position. As Rudd rightly points out, China under Xi Jinping has re-embraced communist ideology at its core, and the West would be ill-advised to ignore this significant shift. The ideological leanings of a country do, after all, have profound implications on its foreign policy.

    It’s also essential to recognise that while Andrews rightly highlights the potential threats posed by an emboldened China, there’s no consideration given to the consequences of a more aggressive NATO presence in Asia. Just as Keating’s views on China may seem dated to some, Andrews’s unwavering confidence in NATO’s intentions and the effects of its actions might be equally anachronistic.

    In closing, while I agree with Andrews that Keating’s rose-tinted view of China might be overly optimistic, it’s equally crucial to approach NATO’s moves with a degree of scepticism and critical examination. Engaging with both sides of this debate is paramount for a nuanced understanding of Australia’s position in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.

    • Kim Beazley 21 August 2023 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      So, on the sole basis that NATO is was planning to open a liaison office in Japan (a plan now seemingly shelved), obviously with no objections from the Japanese Government, or any other Western aligned Asian nation, you imagine that NATO has become something other than what it has always been: a DEFENCE treaty?

      How is opening such an office anywhere outside of Europe in any way contradictory to the original purpose? And how is it in any way expansionist? That fanciful beyond fantasy, especially when you consider the already existing interconnecting web of strategic alliances in place between the US, European and Asia-Pacific nations.

      Do you somehow imagine that the global aspirations of China in the Asia-Pacific region have no implications for The US and its NATO allies?

      • Peter Pearce 27 August 2023 at 11:08 am - Reply

        Mr. Beazley,

        Thank you for your perspective on the matter. The contention isn’t whether NATO has always been a defence treaty or whether Japan and other Western-aligned Asian nations approve of NATO’s presence. It’s more about the underlying implications and perceptions these moves might create in an already tense geopolitical environment.

        While opening a liaison office might seem benign on the surface, the broader picture is about how such moves are perceived, especially by nations who might see it as an encroachment on their sphere of influence. It’s not about the act itself, but the symbolic and strategic message it sends.

        Your point about the interconnected web of alliances is valid. However, the introduction of NATO into this web could be seen as a shift in the power dynamic, potentially complicating matters. As you know, in geopolitics, perception often holds as much weight as reality.

        Your mention of China’s global aspirations in the Asia-Pacific region is indeed a concern for the West, and it’s understood that NATO allies would want to keep a close eye. But the question is, does NATO’s more visible presence help or hinder the goal of a stable and balanced power distribution in the region?

Leave A Comment

Recent Articles:

Use your voice today to protect

Faith · Family · Freedom · Life



The Daily Declaration is an Australian Christian news site dedicated to providing a voice for Christian values in the public square. Our vision is to see the revitalisation of our Judeo-Christian values for the common good. We are non-profit, independent, crowdfunded, and provide Christian news for a growing audience across Australia, Asia, and the South Pacific. The opinions of our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of The Daily Declaration. Read More.