"Australian attitudes and reactions to the People's Republic of China 1949-1972"

Birgan, Michael (1973). "Australian attitudes and reactions to the People's Republic of China 1949-1972" Honours Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Birgan, Michael
Thesis Title "Australian attitudes and reactions to the People's Republic of China 1949-1972"
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1973
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Glen Barclay
Total pages 109
Language eng
Subjects 160601 Australian Government and Politics
160607 International Relations
Formatted abstract


Lord Casey once said: "You've got to live in Australia and be an Australian to have a proper realization of the enormous change that has come over the continent of Asia by reason of China having gone Communist. Australians had a ‘special’ realization of the significance of the Communist revolution in China. Whether or not it was a 'proper realisation' as Casey claimed did not matter, most Australians have been fearful of China since 1949. For Australians, Chinese communism had something to do with the Bank Nationalization Act, Communists in the Australian Labour Party, industrial strikes, peace conferences, disagreement between Britain and the United States and the struggle between good and evil in the world. Australians have always had little knowledge of China, yet the perception of China has been all pervading. China has been at the core of Australian foreign policy thinking since 1949 and has infiltrated our domestic policies as well.

The coming to power of the Communists in China coincided with a growing awareness of the unfortunate break-up of the Western Imperial system. With Asia firmly in European hands the important events in the world took place far away. The Japanese ended all that in 1942, though it took several years for Australians to realize that it had happened. The Imperialist powers tried after the war to reassert their control in Asia. By 1949 it was fast becoming obvious that this was not possible. Not all Australians were unsympathetic to Asian Nationalism. The Australian Labour Party Government, at the insistence of Dr. Evatt, supported Indonesian Independence and welcomed India into the Commonwealth. But the concept of Asia freed from European control caused some anxieties and awakened the not very dormant 'yellow peril' fears that had become part of the Australian way of life since the Goldrushes. Japan had been spared European domination, and in 1942 she smashed through a multitude of European dominions to the shores of Australia. Now, nothing could be the same again in Australia's part of the world. Australians at once became conscious that they were different from Asia yet part of it. Generations of European domination had made it more difficult for Australians to comprehend the historic national rivalries on the Asian continent and Australians tended to regard Asia as a monolith. The Menzies government came to power in 1949 on a wave of controversy about Communism in Australia and Communism in Asia. Against Evatt's proposition of independent small and middle powers, the people had chosen alignment in the Cold War – the struggle between the ‘good', and the 'bad'. Part of the 'good' was the Western Imperialist tradition which had made Australia safe for so long.   ……………………………

Keyword Australia -- Foreign relations -- China

Document type: Thesis
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