POSTED on 05 November 2014 by Greg Mikkelsen

Free Trade Agreement with China: more about diplomacy than economics

The Free Trade Agreement with China has been a long time in the making. With the first round of negotiations taking place in May 2005, the two countries have now held 21 rounds of negotiations, spanning over nearly decade. In this time, Australia has signed free trade agreements with the Republic of Korea and Japan, while New Zealand successfully signed a free trade agreement with China in 2008, with negotiations lasting just three years. So now the political pressure is really on for Australia and China to get their act together and seal the deal. Prime Minister Tony Abbott boldly set an end of year deadline for the completion of the agreement with China, however, whilst this may have achieved the desired effect of expediting an outcome, it has also added a great deal of political pressure on the Abbott government to make good its bold assertions. This pressure may put Australia at a disadvantage at the negotiating table, as China has not bound itself by the same kind of time limitations. Having said this, China does have its own political pressures, not least of which is the desire to not lag behind its East Asian neighbours, Korea and Japan, […]

The Free Trade Agreement with China has been a long time in the making. With the first round of negotiations taking place in May 2005, the two countries have now held 21 rounds of negotiations, spanning over nearly decade. In this time, Australia has signed free trade agreements with the Republic of Korea and Japan, while New Zealand successfully signed a free trade agreement with China in 2008, with negotiations lasting just three years. So now the political pressure is really on for Australia and China to get their act together and seal the deal. Prime Minister Tony Abbott boldly set an end of year deadline for the completion of the agreement with China, however, whilst this may have achieved the desired effect of expediting an outcome, it has also added a great deal of political pressure on the Abbott government to make good its bold assertions. This pressure may put Australia at a disadvantage at the negotiating table, as China has not bound itself by the same kind of time limitations. Having said this, China does have its own political pressures, not least of which is the desire to not lag behind its East Asian neighbours, Korea and Japan, […]

POSTED on 30 October 2014 by Kerry Brown

Dan Rosen’s China study hits the mark

In `China’s Economic Overhaul and its Global Implications’ – the comprehensive study of the Communist Party of China’s Third Plenum Decision of late 2013 just issued by the Asia Society Policy Institute – author Dan Rosen starts one of his concluding chapters with the statement: `Seldom has such a large economy running at high speed required such a profound overhaul in a compressed period of time.’ There is only one word in this sentence to take issue with. `Seldom’ should really be replaced by `Never.’ After all, the preceding 130 pages give ample evidence for the uniqueness in terms of scale and speed of what China’s current leaders are trying to do. These are people in a hurry. There can be no other government in the world now that would dare put out what in effect amounts to a manifesto for the next seven years which has 60 undertakings. That equates to 60 hostages to fortune. Can they really do what they are promising to in this extraordinarily ambitious statement of intent? Rosen makes clear at the start of the study that he is not presenting some exceptionalist account of China’s developmental template, and he gives short shrift to the […]

In `China’s Economic Overhaul and its Global Implications’ – the comprehensive study of the Communist Party of China’s Third Plenum Decision of late 2013 just issued by the Asia Society Policy Institute – author Dan Rosen starts one of his concluding chapters with the statement: `Seldom has such a large economy running at high speed required such a profound overhaul in a compressed period of time.’ There is only one word in this sentence to take issue with. `Seldom’ should really be replaced by `Never.’ After all, the preceding 130 pages give ample evidence for the uniqueness in terms of scale and speed of what China’s current leaders are trying to do. These are people in a hurry. There can be no other government in the world now that would dare put out what in effect amounts to a manifesto for the next seven years which has 60 undertakings. That equates to 60 hostages to fortune. Can they really do what they are promising to in this extraordinarily ambitious statement of intent? Rosen makes clear at the start of the study that he is not presenting some exceptionalist account of China’s developmental template, and he gives short shrift to the […]

POSTED on 24 October 2014 by Greg Mikkelsen

Gough Whitlam’s FIVE greatest contributions to Australia-China relations – by Greg Mikkelsen, 3mandarins

1. Advocacy for diplomatic relations with communist China Gough whitlam was one of the early few to openly advocate for recognition of communist China. On August 12 1954 he famously said “It is about time that, like the United Kingdom and France, we recognised the communist government of China”. This was a bold step for Whitlam as it did not represent his party’s policy at the time. However, a year later, after much debate, recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was adopted as part of the Labor Party’s Policy. Whitlam’s motivation for advocating diplomatic relations with China was to end the containment and hostility towards China, which he saw as a principal cause of conflict and suffering in the Asian region, in particular the Vietnam War. 2. 1971 Labor Delegation to China As the opposition leader of the time, Whitlam’s visit to China ‘transformed his image from that of an opposition leader to a statesman-to-be’. Although openly criticised by the then Prime Minister McMahon for endangering Australia-US relations, Whitlam proved to be in tune with world sentiments towards China as it was later announced that President Nixon would visit China the next year. Whitlam’s achievements were praised by […]

1. Advocacy for diplomatic relations with communist China Gough whitlam was one of the early few to openly advocate for recognition of communist China. On August 12 1954 he famously said “It is about time that, like the United Kingdom and France, we recognised the communist government of China”. This was a bold step for Whitlam as it did not represent his party’s policy at the time. However, a year later, after much debate, recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was adopted as part of the Labor Party’s Policy. Whitlam’s motivation for advocating diplomatic relations with China was to end the containment and hostility towards China, which he saw as a principal cause of conflict and suffering in the Asian region, in particular the Vietnam War. 2. 1971 Labor Delegation to China As the opposition leader of the time, Whitlam’s visit to China ‘transformed his image from that of an opposition leader to a statesman-to-be’. Although openly criticised by the then Prime Minister McMahon for endangering Australia-US relations, Whitlam proved to be in tune with world sentiments towards China as it was later announced that President Nixon would visit China the next year. Whitlam’s achievements were praised by […]

POSTED on 30 September 2014 by Sinead Ferris

Food Safety Innovations in China

In a nation of 1.35 billion people, food inspectors can’t be everywhere at once…or can they? New technology is helping China’s diners take food safety into their own hands, allowing widespread, consumer-driven testing. This month Chinese internet search company Baidu announced the invention of ‘Baidu Kuaisou’, electronic chopsticks that flash red to alert diners to the presence of so called ‘gutter oil’. Gutter oil is pre-used cooking oil reclaimed from sewers by unscrupulous restaurateurs, and it’s only one of a host of food contamination problems attracting attention in the Chinese media. One of the most famous is the 2008 milk scandal, when 22 high profile milk companies were found to be adding dangerous chemical melamine to their products, killing at least 6 babies and hospitalising 54000 more[i]. Unsurprisingly, a Pew Research study conducted in 2012 found that 41% of Chinese respondents see food safety as “a very big problem”[ii]. Baidu’s innovation joins a rapidly growing food safety industry in China.  Tests for individual contaminants like melamine are already on the market, but testing each meal for hundreds of possible chemicals is not efficient. This is part of the reason that the internet and social media are such important parts of […]

In a nation of 1.35 billion people, food inspectors can’t be everywhere at once…or can they? New technology is helping China’s diners take food safety into their own hands, allowing widespread, consumer-driven testing. This month Chinese internet search company Baidu announced the invention of ‘Baidu Kuaisou’, electronic chopsticks that flash red to alert diners to the presence of so called ‘gutter oil’. Gutter oil is pre-used cooking oil reclaimed from sewers by unscrupulous restaurateurs, and it’s only one of a host of food contamination problems attracting attention in the Chinese media. One of the most famous is the 2008 milk scandal, when 22 high profile milk companies were found to be adding dangerous chemical melamine to their products, killing at least 6 babies and hospitalising 54000 more[i]. Unsurprisingly, a Pew Research study conducted in 2012 found that 41% of Chinese respondents see food safety as “a very big problem”[ii]. Baidu’s innovation joins a rapidly growing food safety industry in China.  Tests for individual contaminants like melamine are already on the market, but testing each meal for hundreds of possible chemicals is not efficient. This is part of the reason that the internet and social media are such important parts of […]

POSTED on 27 July 2014 by Ariel C. Armony

China in Latin America: A Deepening Friendship

What does Beijing hope to gain from President Xi Jinping’s visit to Latin America? As we know, the Chinese leader has an intense agenda planned for the region: the BRICS summit in Brazil (and corresponding talks with leaders from UNASUR – the Union of South American Nations), a meeting with the “Quartet” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and visits to Argentina, Venezuela, and Cuba. If we examine President Xi’s trip from a long-term perspective, we can hypothesize that the Asian power is seeking four principal objectives: First, to reinforce political ties with the region. Second, to further a regional agenda. Third, to make progress in the fields of energy and food security, as well as in investments into infrastructure and transportation. Fourth, to improve the articulation of policy towards Latin America, and to align it with Beijing’s global strategy. This is not a small feat. Because of these goals, Xi’s visit marks an important turning point in China’s relations with the region. The first objective is to secure political ties with Latin America. Although we are used to focusing on economics, it is very clear to Beijing that the global expansion of businesses and Chinese […]

What does Beijing hope to gain from President Xi Jinping’s visit to Latin America? As we know, the Chinese leader has an intense agenda planned for the region: the BRICS summit in Brazil (and corresponding talks with leaders from UNASUR – the Union of South American Nations), a meeting with the “Quartet” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and visits to Argentina, Venezuela, and Cuba. If we examine President Xi’s trip from a long-term perspective, we can hypothesize that the Asian power is seeking four principal objectives: First, to reinforce political ties with the region. Second, to further a regional agenda. Third, to make progress in the fields of energy and food security, as well as in investments into infrastructure and transportation. Fourth, to improve the articulation of policy towards Latin America, and to align it with Beijing’s global strategy. This is not a small feat. Because of these goals, Xi’s visit marks an important turning point in China’s relations with the region. The first objective is to secure political ties with Latin America. Although we are used to focusing on economics, it is very clear to Beijing that the global expansion of businesses and Chinese […]