Australia to Merge with Asia?
June 12, 2008, 02:32 AM
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The great nations of the Anglosphere seem determined to merge themselves out of existence.

Mass immigration is making the U.S. a part of Latin America, while an emerging North American Union would combine Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Across the Pond, Britain surrenders her sovereignty to the European Union. Not to be outdone, Down Under, the Australian Prime Minister appears to want to merge Australia with Asia.

An article in the Herald Sun entitled Unified Currency Chance with Asian Union, Says Expert [Jane Metlikovec, June 05, 2008] reports that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has "announced his plan to create a broad Asia-Pacific Community by 2020."

A certain Prof. Tim Lindsey of Melbourne University thinks that's a great idea:

"We are living in the "Asia century,'' he said."Australia is uniquely positioned as the only Western society in Asia and we have never capitalised on that, despite most of our commodities going to Asia.''

So what about Australia's Western identity and Anglo-Celtic heritage? Apparently, that can be easily disregarded:

(Lindsey) said Australia was still suffering from a ''colonial hangover'' by setting ourselves apart from Asia. "This perception of ourselves as a European nation has to change,'' he said.

PM Rudd has chosen a point man to advance the project:

"Mr Rudd has appointed former foreign affairs secretary and one-time ambassador to Indonesia Richard Woolcott as Australia's envoy to sell the idea."

There is some political opposition:

Opposition MPs are divided about Mr Rudd's plan, which he put forward during a speech to the Asia Society Australasia Centre last night, just days before he heads off on a week-long visit to Japan and Indonesia.

Opposition's foreign affairs spokesman Andrew Robb says the plan is presumptuous."His (Kevin Rudd) first job is not to be making pronouncements about grand architecture for the region, telling China, Indonesia and Japan and India how they will be organised as a region by Australia in the next 20 years,'' Mr Robb told ABC Radio.

Nevertheless, Robb's opposition seems more a question of practicality than a concern for Australia's cultural identity:

"Once (Rudd) has demonstrated a capacity to build and maintain and grow strong bilateral relationships with all these countries (and) repair the damage he has already done with some of these countries, then we can... maybe influence the broader architecture that shapes the region.''

How about the argument that Australia's cultural identity is non-Asian? Is that a legitimate argument nowadays?