Australian federal parliamentarian and member for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg has outlined how Australia can play the China game and win in a speech at The Australian National University.
Speaking at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific last night, Mr Frydenberg said that in today’s world the China game was the main game in town and Australia is better placed than virtually any other nation to play a winning hand.
“Today, I want to talk about the rise of China from an Australian perspective and make two essential points, one largely about the economic relationship the other about the strategic,” said Mr Frydenberg.
“First, despite the current [economic] slowdown China will continue to grow strongly over the medium and long term. If Australia is to fully capitalise on the opportunities available we need deeper personal relationships at the highest political level and we need new bilateral mechanisms in place such as a Free Trade Agreement.
“The question then becomes for Australia, given where China's economy has come from and where it is now projected to go, is the Australian government doing all that it can to capitalise on the opportunities available?
“I believe the answer is no, the government should be doing more, much more. Our Prime Minister seems disengaged from the China story. Since assuming the top job, Julia Gillard has spent only 48 hours in the country.”
Turning to the strategic implications of China’s re-emergence on the world stage, Mr Frydenberg said that Australia did not need to make a “false choice” between China and the United States.
“The Pax Americana that was in place following the end of the cold war is no more and many of our friends in the region, including Japan, India, Singapore and the Philippines to name just a few, fear China as a new unchecked hegemon threatening to them.
“But, Australia must not fall into the trap of making a false choice between China and the United States as conflict is not inevitable between these two great powers. As China’s overriding priority is economic development and domestic stability it would be extremely wary of risking a conflict, even with an economically weakened United States. The consequence is that the United States, Australia’s strategic guarantor has good reason to consider it can successfully engage China in a global order based on a balance of power structure.
“Both China and the United States are great powers who in the interest of their own security and prosperity must get along. The more deeply the United States is engaged, the more stable our region is and the better we all are, China included.
“This is the challenge we face, the alignment of our economic and strategic interests as we work with our friend China and our ally the United States to create a peaceful and prosperous future.
“If we get it right, we have so much to gain, if we get it wrong, we all have so much to lose.”