Thoughts on the China-Australia relationship…

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The Financial Times has a “Lunch with”, and so, it turns out, does the Australian Financial Review. I’ve only just got round to reading (on the exercise bike) the December 3rd 2010 issue of the AFR. They talk to Clinton Dines, who is a Former China president of BHP Billiton
Friday 3 December 2010. It’s bloody good, and chimes with something I read in a later AFR on the GDP growth ‘tied-ness’ going up…

Dines argues that the Wester world narrative about China is underpinned by the discussion around sustainability. It falls into two camps. It is either – “When China rules the world” or “The coming collapse of China.”
“There is an anxiety about this and it is not a consistent anxiety,” he claims.
“In Australia, for example, our anxiety would be the coming collapse of China. It the US, it is when China rules the world. Right? And that’s a very important discussion for Australia to have – because our reflexes, our civilisational sympathies tend to go with the way the US talks about China and the way the Europeans talk about China, not necessarily recognising that our situation is distinct.
“We need to be a little braver as a nation, recognising that just converging with that developed world narrative with respect to China is not actually recognising our particular stature.
“What you have now is your geopolitical interests and your civilisational sympathies are separate from your economic interests. They have been bifurcated.”

He doesn’t like the bullshit
“In the Treasury budget documents this year, the Treasury says our terms of trade have benefited from a recovery in global demand,” Dines says with just a hint of exasperation.
“Now global demand has not recovered. We cannot bring ourselves to say it, for the record, that our little national economy is hitched to China.”

“We have had a boom cycle for seven to eight years now and the bounty of that boom has more or less been used to reinforce middle-class entitlements and buy votes. That is what we do with it.”

Further reading: That Quarterly Essay “Between Beijing and Washington”

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