The China Question and the National Interest
Ted O’Brien has a wealth of experience in Australia-China business relations having lived and worked in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in Taiwan and in Hong Kong for many years. He speaks Chinese Mandarin and recently led delegations to both the PRC and Taiwan.
In an essay published in the September edition of Quadrant, Ted O’Brien:
- Defines ‘Australian values’ and an ‘Australian way’ - often referenced, but rarely spelt out;
- Points to three possible future scenarios emerging from US-PRC strains: a Competitive Coexistence, a Cold War and a Hot War;
- Rejects calls for Australia to reset its relationship with the PRC, arguing now is not the time to renew relations;
- Contends that Australia should focus on three fronts:
- Building strength by rejecting calls for an economic decoupling from the PRC but embracing diversification including (controversially) a FTA with Taiwan;
- Exerting influence by rejecting calls for abandoning international institutions and instead pursuing transformational reform, respecting PRC’s ascendency but leaving it neither unfettered nor unchecked and recommending the PRC relinquishes its ‘developing world’ status; and
- Asserting interests by establishing a national consensus on dealing with the PRC, rejecting attempts to expand ‘sovereignty’ to include ethnicity or ancestry, exercising greater regional leadership including stronger defence arrangements in the Pacific to avoid encirclement.
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