Belittling China-Australia economic complementarity shows the West’s anxiety
Published: Mar 27, 2023 09:43 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Daniel Andrews, premier of the Australian state of Victoria, is set to travel to China this week on a trade mission, Australian media ABC reported over the weekend. Andrews' visit comes at a sensitive time as the warming-up of bilateral economic ties has encountered a new challenge - Australia's involvement in the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal.

Chinese analysts believe that with the AUKUS deal, American politicians are attempting to handcuff Australia onto a US agenda to form an underwater military encirclement against China, although such "strategic coordination" only serves the geopolitical interest of the US and plants a "time bomb" for Australia's own peace and that of the Asia-Pacific region.

At a time when Washington tries to continue roping Australia in its anti-China camp, using the AUKUS deal as a poisonous bait to build a geopolitical military alliance, some Western media outlets, regrettably, have tried to offer support from the economic perspective. 

The Japan Times said on March 3 that the Chinese market holds less allure than in the past since Australian firms have found new buyers for their goods. VOA Chinese, echoing the Japan Times, said last week that there are limits to how much China-Australia bilateral ties can improve.

The economic complementarity and comprehensive trade and economic cooperation serve as a key piece in the jigsaw for China-Australia relations. Badmouthing China-Australia economic complementarity is in line with the "political correctness" across the West, as US politicians are trying to prevent China-Australia ties from thawing and to lock Australia into a permanent "America first" position. However, we believe the public and companies that have made profits by investing in China and Australia can see through their tricks.

An indisputable fact is that the Australian business community has been eagerly awaiting an improvement in trade. In fact, the more Western media outlets try to belittle economic complementarity between China and Australia, the more it reflects that some political elites in the West now have become increasingly anxious about the warming-up of China-Australia ties. 

China is a prime market for many Australian goods including coal, iron ore and wine. The two countries bear strong economic complementarity. If bilateral ties between China and Australia can be brought back on track and have an overall thaw, there could be vast potential for the development of China-Australia economic cooperation.

Let's take the example of Victoria. China is the state's biggest trading partner. Andrews was quoted by the ABC report as saying that there would be a "very busy program of meetings" during his upcoming trip, which would take him to Beijing and some other Chinese cities from Tuesday to Saturday. Andrews said it's a really important opportunity for the state and "the Chinese economy and Chinese community, business, our partners, are very, very important to us."

Now it needs to be pointed out that for the Australian economy, there is growing urgency to further strengthen economic and trade ties with China, instead of trying to weaken these important links. The Australian economy is under pressure as inflation and rising interest rates squeeze budgets ever tighter. Victoria's debt is ballooning, according to media reports. Andrews was quoted as saying that a focus of the trip would be growing the number of Chinese students studying in Victoria from the current number of about 42,000. International students are one of Victoria's biggest economic drivers.

In the past few years, China-Australia relations have encountered difficulties and setbacks, which we do not want to see. The difficult period in China-Australia relations has made people more aware of the need to adopt a pragmatic attitude in solving problems in bilateral trade and investment, and to create a favorable environment for deepening economic and trade cooperation. China is Australia's largest trading partner, an important source of tourists, investment and economic cooperation. Australia cannot afford to lose the Chinese market.

As long as the Australian side adheres to the pragmatic spirit, we believe China-Australia economic cooperation can achieve healthy development. A sound and steady development of bilateral relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and contributes to the prosperity of the Australian economy.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.