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Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 18:52 | SYDNEY
Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 18:52 | SYDNEY

A review of our China policy?

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COMMENTS

11 June 2009 10:42

Over at East Asia Forum, Peter Drysdale argues that Australia takes its good standing in China for granted, and that the Rio-Chinalco episode should lead to some deep reflection. Drysdale makes a passionate case for a top-to-bottom policy review of Australia's relationship with China:

But much more than that, Australia needs, as a matter of top policy priority, a well worked over and publicly debated national strategy paper, with intelligent input welcomed from both sides of the relationship, as a reference point to keep the relationship on a positive track and to realise the huge potential there is in it for both countries.

I certainly don't dismiss this idea, but it's worth pointing out a couple of potential downsides. First, I wonder whether such a review, motivated by a sincere desire to get the relationship right, might just send the signal that there is something fundamentally wrong. Otherwise, why would we be doing it at all? Indeed, is there any precedent for such a review in Australian foreign policy?

Also, a public and comprehensive review could, if it is to be truly open, give undue prominence to extremes of opinion on this subject. I'm generally open to the view that sunlight is the best antiseptic, so I don't regard this as a strong objection. But again, one has to weigh the message this may send to China, which has different ideas about open and transparent political debate.

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