Rational China policy can ease Australia's economic woes
Published: May 23, 2022 10:25 PM Updated: May 23, 2022 10:23 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Australia's incoming Treasurer Jim Chalmers says he's confronting "the trickiest economic conditions inherited by an incoming government since World War II," Bloomberg reported on Monday. If the new government can abandon the hawkish anti-China stance that has already hurt Australia's relationship with its largest trading partner, efforts to bring the bilateral relationship back onto the right track will be one of the clearest signals that will inject confidence into the economy.

Anthony Albanese led his Labor Party to victory in the recent election in Australia. Australian local media ABC News reported on Monday that Albanese's primary task will be able to navigate his new government through "the minefield bequeathed to him by his predecessor." The first challenge facing Albanese as prime minister is to restore Australia's economy, the report said.

All eyes now are centered on how the new Albanese government can lift Australia's growth and create the conditions for rising wages. Citing recent analysis, the BBC reported on Friday that almost two-thirds of Australians say reducing the cost of living should be the top priority for the government.

Australia is an export-oriented economy. Trade has grown as a proportion of national income as rising living standards in Asia have increased regional markets for Australia's exports.

If the new Australian government can bring Australia's trade relationship with China back onto the right track, people will soon feel the government's determination to restore Australian economy.

China-Australia relations are characterized by strong trade bonds. In the past 13 years, China has been Australia's largest trading partner, as well as Australia's largest export market and source of imports. However, with Morrison's hawkish stance on China, bilateral cooperation has encountered increasingly strong headwinds. This is one reason behind Australia's deepening economic woes.

So far, Australia has launched hundreds of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against Chinese products. Numerous trade barriers have helped push up its inflation. Now is the right time for Australia to do away with the trade barriers imposed against Chinese imports to help control rising consumer prices in Australia.

As Australia reduces its reliance on natural resources, it is well-placed to benefit from the boom of China's investment in areas like infrastructure and real estate.

Australia is one of the largest beneficiaries of the Chinese economic miracle, but it feels uneasy about China's rise. There is no denying that Australia's economic relationship with China is complicated. It will be a test of Albanese's wisdom to see if the new government can leverage Australia's economy with a more rational and constructive relationship with China.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.