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Australia and China need to deepen relations: report

09 March 2012

Australia needs to deepen its relationship with China if the two countries are to continue prospering from each other, according to a new report from the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU.

Australia and China: A Joint Report on the Bilateral Relationship argues that a reinvigorated relationship will also help Australia and China navigate future sticking points and overcome conflicts across a range of issues.

The joint report by CIW and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing examines Australia’s bilateral relationship with China.

Presented to the Australian ambassador to China Frances Adamson in Beijing last week, the bilingual report is the first of its kind and represents an unprecedented level of engagement between Australian scholars and the Chinese government.

The report makes six key recommendations on how the Australia-China relationship can be strengthened including expanding the relationship across a range of sectors and mutually working together to overcome different interests.

“A stronger bilateral relationship will require deeper links in all areas and an expansion of the relationship into new areas. All those involved in the relationship should seek new opportunities for engagement,” says the report.

“We also need to recognise that Australia and China will have different views and interests on some issues. It is important to acknowledge these differences and manage them carefully, and not to allow differences in one area, as a matter of course, to cast a pall over the entire relationship.”

Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World Professor Geremie Barmé said the report represents the culmination of a long process of frank exchange, debate and research.

“For those immediately concerned with Australia’s place in Asia and the Pacific, the country’s bilateral relationship with China, and our interconnectedness with the broader Chinese world, it was evident that the closer our two countries became the more we would experience the particular discomforts of greater interaction and intimacy.

“We thus felt that it was more pressing than ever before for concerned bodies and individuals to promote higher levels of mutual Australia and China literacy, an engagement that is not just utilitarian but in-depth and clear. This, I believe, requires not merely a grounded realism but also a long-term, multifaceted understanding that builds on the past but can see beyond the present.

“Given the differing realities of our two countries it is significant that we have been able to identify so much common ground, without in any way trying to skirt or disguise areas where our perspectives do not align, or where we disagree.”

President of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, Professor Cui Liru added that it is crucial that both countries overcome a dual disconnect created by the current rate of change in the region.

“[There is a new] disjuncture between our social and economic relationship on the one hand and our strategic relationship on the other, where the latter has failed to reflect the dramatic developments in the former.

“[There is also] disjuncture between our current strategic bilateral relationship and the fast-paced structural transformations occurring in the Asia-Pacific region. The rise of new great powers, especially China, the return of the United States to Asia and the Pacific, combined with the increased speed with which the global centre of gravity is shifting towards our region, has resulted in a regional transformation.

“But the strategic relationship between our two countries is clearly lagging behind the changes in the overall strategic situation in Asia and the Pacific. It is for this reason that it is a matter of pressing urgency as to how our two countries develop new forms of collaboration in the strategically complex environment of Asia and the Pacific so that the shift of global gravity will be more assured.”

The Australian Centre on China in the World in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific is a research institution established to complement the existing Chinese studies expertise at The Australian National University. It aims to be an integrated, world-leading institution for Chinese studies and the understanding of China on a global scale.

For more information:
James Giggacher, Asia Pacific editor, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T +61 2 6125 1165 M +61 478 876 E james.giggacher@anu.edu.au


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