Australia’s financial dependency on China ‘won’t change’, says former ambassador to Beijing | World information

Australia is likely to continue to suffer economic damage from “repeated rounds of Chinese economic coercion” and must find a way to reset the relationship, a former ambassador in Beijing warned.

Seafood exporters are the latest industry group to report disruptions in accessing the Chinese market, and Geoff Raby, Australia’s ambassador to China from 2007 to 2011, said Australia needs China more than the other way around.

In an interview with Guardian Australia, Raby argued that Australia has teamed up with the United States in recent years to resist China’s rise – an approach he believed was against Australia’s interests.

This is despite claims by the Morrison administration – including at high-level talks in Washington in July – that Canberra is pursuing its own policies and doing nothing to violate its vital relationship with Beijing.

In a new book published Tuesday, Raby suggests that Australia’s strategy for managing the rise of China was “incremental, reactive to the agendas of others and as such incoherent”.

He also says that talk of Australia significantly diversifying its economic ties with China by moving to other markets is “nothing but wishful thinking.”

The complementarity between the two economies “is so profound that Australia’s economic dependence on China will not change,” unless Australians accept a substantial decrease in their living standards, according to the books “China’s Grand Strategy” and “Australia’s Future in.” of the new global order “.

“Canberra hates that, but I assume it’s an asymmetrical relationship [and] Like it or not, we need China more than they need us, ”said Raby, who is also a former Australian ambassador to the World Trade Organization, in an interview.

“It’s not about who is right or wrong. Diplomacy and pragmatic foreign policy should be about achieving results and outcomes that are in your best interests. “

The Australian government has announced that it will not bow to economic pressure and stand up for its values.

Raby wondered if Australia’s interests were best served by the current situation “in which we have faced repeated rounds of Chinese economic constraints.” He said that while Australia should oppose China’s economic coercion, “that doesn’t mean they won’t keep doing this to us and we won’t keep paying the price.”

On Monday, the Morrison government called on Beijing to reassure Australian lobster exporters after customs held several shipments over the weekend for further testing.

The Seafood Trade Advisory Group, which represents seafood exporters on trade and market access issues, said Monday there were positive indications “that the Chinese authorities are doing additional tests over the weekend and confirming late shipments are starting to clear customs to carry out “.

The delays had fueled fears that seafood could be the next Australian sector to be hit by trade tensions with China after barley, beef, cotton, coal and wine were hit by official or undeclared trade measures.

While it is difficult to quantify the cost of the trade war, research by the Perth USAsia Center shared with Guardian Australia last week showed that the total annual value of exports to China in the five industries affected by declared and undeclared sanctions was $ 19 billion. USD was.

$ 28 billion in additional exports of services could be at risk if Beijing’s warnings to its citizens about traveling to Australia – based on allegations of increased risk of racial attacks – prevent a post-Covid recovery in tourism and international education.

Raby compared the Australian government’s approach to the Black Knight, the unfortunate character from Monty Python, and the Holy Grail.

“The Black Knight has chopped off his arms and legs and he yells ‘Come back, you chicken’. We are a bit like that. And I am only calling for a pragmatic, realistic policy. “Australia needs to think about how to offer a breaker without selling its interests,” said Raby.

“It has to be about changing the way we talk with China,” he said. “Things that are most important to Beijing, I would argue from a country like Australia, are the recognition of China’s territorial integrity, the legitimacy of the Communist Party as China’s ruling party, and China’s rise as a great power in the region and one that is needed for that be respected. “

In the book, Raby claims that recognition of the interests of China and its party state is required for Australia to seek ways to connect with Beijing on issues such as the environment, water resources, energy, terrorism, cross-border crime, cyber war and the militarization of space.

It lays down several other foundations for a “grand strategy” for Australia, including the fact that US willingness to defend Australia is no longer self-evident.

Canberra’s strategy should also include increased investment in Australian cultural diplomacy and soft power in the region, as well as a return to “activist middle power diplomacy, which involves building a coalition on a range of issues”.

Raby, an ambassador to Apec in the early 2000s, said regional states should have a common purpose in dealing with China “to remind Beijing that a push against one is a push against all”.

After serving as Canberra’s top diplomat in Beijing for four years until 2011, Raby has recently advised Australian and Chinese companies. He is a board member of Yancoal, a raw materials company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange but majority-owned by a Chinese state-owned company, registered in the Australian Government’s Foreign Influence Transparency System.

In the book, Raby criticizes the Chinese government for “widespread detention camps” throughout the Xinjiang region and notes Xi Jinping’s “increasingly authoritarian control of domestic politics.”

“As our main economic partner, having a headstrong, difficult, aggressive, yet brittle and still weak power, one that is more about tyranny than democracy, but on which Australia’s economic well-being and security in the region rest is that Australians dystopian future Policymakers must learn to find their way, ”he writes.

Raby summarizes the Chinese government’s strategic goals as security for its borders, respect for its territorial integrity and protection of the continued rule of the communist party. He argues that China is “a limited superpower” that functions “as both a status quo power and a disruptor” and has a number of strategic weaknesses.

The weaknesses include China’s heavy dependence on other countries for the resources and energy it needs to support its economic growth, thereby exposing it to future disruptions in supplies.

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