Around Oz

Für Aus­tralien ist nicht mehr die USA die größte Welt­macht, son­dern in zunehmen­dem Maße China.

Spotlight - - CONTENTS -

Peter Flynn on China’s power

Aus­tralia has a love-hate re­la­tion­ship with China; or maybe a bet­ter de­scrip­tion would be “a love-fear re­la­tion­ship”. Prob­a­bly few peo­ple in Europe un­der­stand just how joined up the two coun­tries have become. Con­sider the fact that 30 years ago, we had about 200,000 res­i­dents of Chi­nese an­ces­try, whereas to­day, we have more than 1.2 mil­lion, more than half of whom were born in China or Hong Kong. That is more than five per cent of our to­tal pop­u­la­tion.

China will con­tinue to be our pri­mary source of new im­mi­grants (ahead of In­dia, in­ter­est­ingly enough), and they al­ready ac­count for one in ten of those who live in our big­gest city, Syd­ney. They make up the largest group of for­eign stu­dents and are an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant source of well-heeled tourism. Aus­tralians like and re­spect their Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion as po­lite, hard-work­ing peo­ple who have in­te­grated them­selves well across the coun­try.

On the trade front, China over­took Ja­pan more than a decade ago as our big­gest ex­port mar­ket. Few de­vel­oped coun­tries in the world are as re­liant as we are on China, which takes al­most 30 per cent of our ex­ported goods and ser­vices— worth A$ 110 bil­lion a year — in­clud­ing iron ore and coal for its steel mills. In com­par­i­son, tra­di­tional Western trad­ing part­ners, such as the EU and the US, ac­count for only about ten and five per cent re­spec­tively.

Here lies the dilemma: Aus­tralia needs China for its fu­ture pros­per­ity, but gets anx­ious about a new world or­der in which it would be too re­liant on a to­tal­i­tar­ian regime that is pushy in Pa­cific geopol­i­tics. Our de­pen­dence on se­cu­rity ar­range­ments with the US seems far less as­sured as that coun­try be­comes more in­su­lar, es­pe­cially un­der Pres­i­dent Trump.

New laws in­tro­duced to fight for­eign in­flu­ence on Aus­tralian pol­i­tics (the Es­pi­onage and For­eign In­ter­fer­ence Bill) have up­set the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, which is un­doubt­edly trying to shape a softer im­age of it­self to Aus­tralians. The gov­ern­ment’s For­eign In­vest­ments Re­view Board also blocks ef­forts by sta­te­owned Chi­nese com­pa­nies to buy or get in­volved in strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture as­sets.

Isn’t this what world su­per­pow­ers have al­ways done, though? It is fore­cast, namely, that China will over­take the US as the big­gest global econ­omy by 2030. Great pow­ers project au­thor­ity, pro­mote their val­ues and cul­ture and, above all, pro­tect their trade routes and sup­ply chains.

Aus­tralia will, there­fore, be chal­lenged to achieve a fine bal­anc­ing act over the com­ing years: hold­ing on to the Chris­tian, demo­cratic val­ues of the West on the one hand, and on the other, the eco­nomic prag­ma­tism of need­ing a pow­er­ful neigh­bour (and bene­fac­tor) that does not give a hoot about the for­mer. The global power shift is well un­der way, and it’s a bit late now for fear.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Austria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.