Gough Whitlam, then-leader of Australia’s opposition Labor party, departs Hong Kong for mainland China at the head of a delegation in 1971. Photo: SCMP Gough Whitlam, then-leader of Australia’s opposition Labor party, departs Hong Kong for mainland China at the head of a delegation in 1971. Photo: SCMP
Gough Whitlam, then-leader of Australia’s opposition Labor party, departs Hong Kong for mainland China at the head of a delegation in 1971. Photo: SCMP
Tony Walker
Opinion

Opinion

Tony Walker

China-Australia relations: what Canberra can learn from Gough Whitlam and its own diplomatic history

  • Gough Whitlam’s landmark 1971 China visit offers lessons in statecraft: a quality absent from much modern-day Australian diplomacy, writes Tony Walker
  • His trip ushered in more than four decades of relatively harmonious relations between Canberra and Beijing – until the recent diplomatic cul-de-sac

Gough Whitlam, then-leader of Australia’s opposition Labor party, departs Hong Kong for mainland China at the head of a delegation in 1971. Photo: SCMP Gough Whitlam, then-leader of Australia’s opposition Labor party, departs Hong Kong for mainland China at the head of a delegation in 1971. Photo: SCMP
Gough Whitlam, then-leader of Australia’s opposition Labor party, departs Hong Kong for mainland China at the head of a delegation in 1971. Photo: SCMP
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Tony Walker

Tony Walker

Tony Walker is a vice-chancellor's fellow at La Trobe University and a columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. He is a dual Walkley Award winner for commentary, and recipient of the Paul Lyneham Award for Excellence in Press Gallery Journalism. He is a former foreign correspondent for Fairfax and the Financial Times in China, the Middle East and North America. Publications include Arafat:The Biography and The Peter Thomson Five.