Ever since diplomatic relations between Australia and China were established on 21st December 1972, mutual relations have been generally developing quite well. The Governments of the two countries agreed to develop diplomatic relations, closeness, and collaboration between both countries on the foundation of the tenets of mutual respect for autonomy and respect for territorial uprightness, non-aggression, non-interference in their respective domestic affairs, fairness, impartiality, and mutual benefits, and diplomatic coexistence. Authorities of both countries have been making regular visits to both countries and maintain regular contact with each other.
The two governments have agreed to improve upon the cooperative efforts, bring about friendship exchange programs and diplomatic relations between representatives of the two countries. The government of Australia has recognized the government of the People’s Republic of China as the constitutional government in the country and respects the stand taken by China in regard to Taiwan being a province of China. Australia has also taken a decision to remove its diplomatic representative from Taiwan.
The relationship between the two countries is now quite long-standing and extends further than the growing economic and political link by way of a large number of educational, cultural, and people-to-people contact programs organized between both nations. The economic ties between Australia and China are on the rise which is epitomized by the recent spate of big economic deals such as the natural gas deal which has strengthened the relations between the two nations.
The pattern of sustained economic growth has led the two countries to develop a stronger bond as also to improve the life of the citizens. There are three major areas of relationship in which the bilateral relations have been further strengthened. New avenues have been identified to expand trading and investments, there is an increased level of shared interests in broader levels of political and security collaborations and personal links and contact amongst people of the two countries has played an important role in the enhancement of the relationship. Australia has welcomed the rise of China as a world power and looks up to cooperating with it in other areas of mutual interests. It also places a lot of significance on regional stability and stronger modes of economic collaboration (Thomas, 2004).
Australia considers its relationship with China to be of great significance and the bilateral relationship relies on mutual interest and respect which has contributed to a great extent to the maximizing of shared economic interests (Doran, 20020. Both countries have had a regular pattern of high-level visits of dignitaries from both sides since diplomatic relations were established between the two countries 35 years ago. Australia was visited by President Hu Jintao in 2007 and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2006. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited China in April 2008 as also in August 2008 for the Olympics in Beijing. Bilateral relations continue to grow at a rapid pace between the two countries.
It was in 2007 that China replaced Japan in being the biggest trading partner of Australia. Bilateral relations are also strong in the area of climatic issues. An agreement was reached with China in April 2008, when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd concluded a joint statement on stronger ties and cooperation on matters pertaining to climate changes. The agreement also included continuing on a regular basis, further discussions at the Ministerial level so that both countries cooperate consistently for mutual benefits in such matters (Kim, 1998).
The rapid economic growth of China is quite encouraging and will ultimately prove to be good for trade and commerce in Australia. This would also assist Australia a great deal in coping with the global economic crisis. The economic growth of China which is predicted at 8% in 2009 indicates considerable potential for partnership in trade and economic development between the two countries.
As compared to 43% growth in exports from Australia ten years ago, the last ten years have shown an increase of 53%, of which exports to China have grown by 28% during the same period. As per the latest figures put forth by the Australia China Business Council, Australian families benefit by over 3400 Australian dollars every year by way of trading with China. An altered pattern is seen in investment between Australia and China and there have been significant FDI inflows from China into Australia in replacing the conventional trade routes in global engagements. As per the data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the stock of foreign investment from China into Australia stood at 6.2 billion Australian dollars in 2007 which is an increase of 78% per year and of 120% over a five-year period.
In keeping with this pattern, there is estimated to be a significant increase in FDI from China during 2009 also. Although several challenges have emerged due to the current slowdown in the global economy, the general view remains that China will make major strides and contribute considerably in both the short and long terms. There is increasing diversification in the trading relationship between the two countries as the Chinese economy grows rapidly. China is also the biggest source for foreign students in Australia and there are efforts underway to improve the status of the intellectual property environment as also the enhancement of sustainability, cleaner energy, and protection of the environment (Xinhua, 2009).
The gesture that Australia made in contributing A$430 million for the earthquake victims in China speaks very well of the cordial relationship that the two countries share. Several Australian companies such as ANZ Bank and Bluescope Steel have played an important role in the reconstruction efforts after the earthquake. The relationship between the two nations is now more than just trade and commerce and extends to strategic dialogues, climate changes, disarmament, issues pertaining to human rights and security (Montgomery, 1986). Over 100,000 Chinese students pursue an academic course in Australia and the number of Chinese tourists is increasing every year.
The numbers of Chinese immigrants in Australia are also increasing every year and they continue to contribute to its economic and social advancement. Both the countries have committed to focus on other broad-based partnerships. It is also acknowledged by both the countries that they have different ideologies in some key areas which both feel is due to their contrasting histories, different systems of governance, and different interests. A pertinent example in this regard is the issue of human rights where both differ to a great extent, but in a mature relationship, such matters can be dealt with separately in keeping with mutual trust and respect (Fung, 1985).
Australia looks at China as being a leading and powerful player in global affairs which befits its rising influence in the global economy and politics. It is important for Australia that China plays an important role in the security and stability efforts in North-East Asia and contributes in helping the region to meet the challenges emanating from North Korea in terms of its nuclear program and the process of six party discussions. Both countries understand that it is of immense importance for stability to be maintained in the Asia Pacific region and that they collaborate on the maximum number of parameters (Harvie, 2009).
Australia appreciates the efforts made by China in offsetting the adversities of the global slowdown and the vigorous stimulus options exercised by the country will go a long way in restoring global confidence. In taking the clue from China, Australia has implemented stimulus efforts by way of A$10 billion packages in December 2008 and A$42 billion for the creation of jobs and nation building.
Both China and Australia are members of the Group of 20 (G20), which is the forum that is engaged in leading efforts of global response in getting over the present crisis. Australia fully supports the plea that China must play a more dominating role in the affairs of the International Monetary Fund since its weight will significantly influence the decision-making process to safeguard the interests of needy nations. Australia has also supported the inclusion of China in the Financial Stability Forum. Both countries share the view that G20 should take a strong stand against protectionism.
Australia does not view China as being a threat, militarily or politically, as is felt by other countries such as Japan and the USA. Both countries continue to spend a considerable amount of money on the acquirement of armaments but they claim that such actions are necessary to maintain regional stability. In this regard, relations between the two countries continue to be excellent. Leaders of both countries feel that their respective economies are deeply integrated into each other and that their economic future is tied with each other’s well-being (Leaver, 2006). Australia is open to investments from China and Chinese companies have shown immense interest in the natural resources of Australia in order to source raw materials for their production activities.
The bond between the two countries is very strong which is evident from the fact that there have been Chinese politicians who have contested in elections in Australia. A pertinent example in this regard is that of Peter Wong who was an Australian politician and member of the Liberal Party of Australia and represented the New South Wales Legislative Council from 1999 to 2007. Australia also has strong ties with China in regard to research in the Antarctic region (Peacock, 2005).
The relationship between the two countries has reached quite far on the positive side in that there is increasing cultural and social collaboration and they also enjoy increasing economic ties. There still remains immense potential in view of the critically important role that China is set to assume in global affairs. People of the two countries are building closer relationships in working together on common challenges and interests (Smith, 2009).
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