The future of Australia-China relations - with Colin Mackerras

Guest: Colin Mackerras, Emeritus Professor, Griffith University

Host: Bob Carr, Director, Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI), University of Technology Sydney

What are Western perspectives on China and how have they changed since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949? How have Australians responded to China’s rise? How should Australia balance its relationships between China and the United States? How should Australians prepare for changing regional and global dynamics resulting from China’s increasing influence?

Colin Mackerras joins Bob Carr to discuss the future of the Australia-China relationship.

Australia has not engaged enough with China, especially in terms of learning its languages and about its cultures. Greater engagement would enable Australians to develop a better understanding of Chinese worldviews.

The biggest gap between China and Australia lies in their different historical experiences. Australia’s historical experience has been relatively ‘easy’, in comparison with China’s history of wars and violent occupation by Japan and the West.

China and the US should develop a system of shared leadership. The alternative to this is clash, which is undesirable to all parties. While Australia is not likely to adopt a wholly independent, Asia-focused foreign policy in the short term, in the long term such a policy is likely to be recognised as being in the national interest. 

Theme music by Sam J Mitchell.

October 30 2017