Tuesday 10 November – ACBC Leadership Series with Geoff Raby, joined by Danny Armstrong, Managing Partner, ShineWing Australia who kindly supported this event.
Geoff expertly guided attendees through the essential points of his newly released book China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order. Taking a broadened view of the poor state of the relationship, Geoff employed historical context to guide his stance on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), US-China tension, overlapping and competing values and how Australian businesses can best position themselves in a shifting global economy and with a growing regional power.
Promoting a national plan of ‘strategic cooperation’ over ‘strategic competition’, Geoff called on those in Canberra to “walk the walk” of engagement and reject the current notion of a deteriorating race to the bottom style diplomacy as the “new normal”. With 40% of Australia’s exports going to China worth $149bn, we are in a unique position in the world to take advantage of China as a strategic partner.
Some key takeaways from the session:
- Geoff outlined China’s historical context and how this influences the China we know today.
- China sees the CCP as essential for maintaining the security and stability of China.
- It is worth considering how the CCP came to power and the way in which shards of territory were integrated into a collective whole.
- Geoff outlined the main three constraints facing China’s growth: Geographic constraints, resource constraints and soft power constraints.
- Geographic: China has a 22,000km land border shared with 14 countries on its border that it has to deal with.
- Resource: China increasingly turning to world markets to keep its economic machine running. An economic model running in parallel with domestic consumption as part of a Dual Circulation System.
- The BRI was originally set up to open alternative trade routes and help China avoid the Strait of Malacca.
- Soft power: China’s soft power is constrained by the fact that all content has to go through the propaganda department.
- This is why CGTV Television has been wholly unsuccessful.
What can Australia do to repair the bilateral trade relationship?
“we talk the talk of engagement but walk the walk of containment”
- We ought not to see the relationship with China as purely a transactional one.
- Clearly, the US will continue to see China as a strategic competitor. Biden has sketched out a framework for his engagement with China.
- Unlike Australia, the US has not been frozen out of diplomatic discussions.
- China has made some positive gestures towards Australia.
- Wang Xining’s speech to the press club.
- Madam Fu Ying’s interview with the AFR.
- Australia can do more to capitalise on these.
- Incidents such as Senator Abetz’s inquiry into Chinese Australian’s does not help.
- There needs to be a shift to long-term policy thinking about our national interests rather than short term political gain.
- We are one of 128 countries where China is our number 1 trading partner and have 40% of our exports going to China putting us in a very unique position, disparate to the US.
- “Economic security is fundamental to national security”.