China, Australia poised to boost relations
Australia has built a good relationship with China in recent years and there is no reason why that cannot continue growing as China transitions into its new phase of development by implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, experts say.
Data show China already is Australia’s biggest trading partner, provides more foreign students to its schools and universities and has now overtaken New Zealand as Australia’s biggest destination for tourists.
There are areas, however, in which Australia can build upon the relationship, especially in investment and infrastructure development. An example is Northern Australia, a significant food producer with the potential for much more with the right investment and infrastructure spending.
This is where the Belt and Road Initiative can be a significant factor.
“Australia is keen to strengthen engagement with China on regional trade and infrastructure development projects, which generate economic growth and employment, including practical initiatives developed under the BRI,” Steven Ciobo, Australia’s minister for trade, tourism and investment, said in a written reply to a question on the Belt and Road Initiative.
He said the Australian government supports regional investment initiatives that are “transparent, conform to international standards and provide genuine commercial opportunities” for Australian business.
General Secretary Xi Jinping, in his address to the 19th CPC National Congress on Oct 18, said China will actively promote international cooperation throughout the initiative.
Professor James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, said the Belt and Road Initiative is a significant collaboration introduced by the Chinese government and now has become a focal point in terms of foreign policy and international economic outreach.
“Australia is still examining the implications of the BRI, and as yet has not formulated a policy on BRI engagement,” he told China Daily.
Professor Ying Zhu, director of the Australian Centre for Asian Business at the University of South Australia, said Australia needs investment in infrastructure but has yet to fully endorse the Belt and Road Initiative.
“By embracing the BRI,(the government) would open these projects to investment from many avenues making the project a reality rather than a talking point,” he said.
Alice de Jong a senior lecturer at Monash University Business School, said China has the potential to do great things with the initiative.
“It opens the door to Australian business taking part even if the Australian government hasn’t fully endorsed the BRI,” she said.