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China’s Charm Offensive By: Joshua Kurlantzick
Commentarymagazine.com | Thursday, October 12, 2006

[First published in the October 2006 issue of commentarymagazine.com, reprinted with permission].

In October 2003, George W. Bush arrived for his first visit to Australia, a country that for a half-century has been one of America’s closest allies. Australian soldiers fought alongside Americans in the jungles of the Pacific theater in World War II and on the front lines in Korea and Vietnam. During the long decades of the cold war, Washington relied on Australia as an outpost of freedom in a region threatened by Communism. Today, in Iraq, Australian soldiers again serve at the side of the American military. To top it off, President Bush enjoys warm personal relations with Prime Minister John Howard. 

But on his visit three years ago, the President was in for an unpleasant surprise. Thousands of protesters filled the streets in Sydney and Canberra, scuffling with police and staging mock trials of the American president. Inside the Australian parliament, Bush’s remarks were interrupted by heckling senators, who had to be escorted from the chamber. His speech done, he was met outside by another chorus of booing critics.

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