But China is refusing to even condemn the Burmese regime's crackdown. So where does that leave Australia? Well, if we cannot exert pressure on the Burmese regime, at least we can pressure our Chinese friends to pressure Burma - right?
Not bloody likely! We've already made it abundantly clear to China that we will happily turn a blind eye to all their human rights violations, and keep buying all their cheap slave-trade goods, as long as the trade dollars keep flowing. That's the Howard-Costello "economic miracle" at work, right there.
Are we going to impose trade sanctions on China, until they loudly condemn the Burmese atrocity? No way! Heck, we are busy committing our own human rights violations in places like Iraq, Nauru and Gitmo. And Downer is busy helping Cheney agitate for war with Iran!
Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland says Burma should be referred to the International Criminal Court. Yeah, like that's gonna happen too. If Howard is serious about the ICC, the first thing he should do is hand himself in. And if Rudd is serious about it, he should announce a full enquiry into how we ended up in Iraq.
This TV talk of Burma is really all just political posturing by people who basically don't give a fuck. Now Howard says he is going to tighten sanctions even though Downer previously admitted that such action was a complete waste of time. And Bush is also strutting his stuff before the cameras, as if he has any real influence. What a farce!
Meanwhile, on the streets of Rangoon, thousand of monks and students keep putting their lives at risk, day after day. We ordinary Australians should be ashamed that we cannot do more to help them, but we have already made our choices, haven't we?
UPDATE: This 2005 story comes via Andrew Bartlett:
The first Howard Government refused to follow the American lead in 1997 in imposing economic sanctions against the ruling military junta, which had rejected a decisive popular vote on May 27, 1990, for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in Burma's only election since 1960. The 1990 election was free and fair, as the result showed. The shocked generals had to eat their words that they would transfer power to an elected parliament. They took refuge in the subterfuge that the election was only for an assembly to discuss a constitution, which remains a mirage.
Instead of joining the US and, later, European countries, Australia went off on a frolic of its own. It introduced a Human Rights Training program, which pandered to the military establishment, and was roundly condemned by the democracy movement. Although it promised parliament a full accounting, HRT seems to have been quietly terminated...