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Australia cannot afford to be complacent about China

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 4 April 2013


The first official overseas trip taken by China’s new president Xi Jinping has revealed a number of key priorities for China in coming years.

A predictable first port of call was Russia, with the two nations having a long-standing and deep relationship based not only on geography but also history and political systems.

Their trading relationship is also important.

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China has been a significant buyer of Russian military hardware in the past, including advanced fighter jets, submarines and ships.

Russia is also a significant supplier of energy to China, a role set to increase in the wake of recent large sales of gas and oil.

Less predictable was the decision of the Chinese President to also visit Tanzania, Republic of Congo and South Africa.

However, this can be seen as a reflection of the increasing level of Chinese investment in Africa.

China is seeking to develop mineral and energy resources on the continent and the substantial investment is part of China’s long-term strategy of securing supply lines of critical commodities.

President Xi Jinping would also be seeking to reassure African leaders that China’s investment and development approach is beneficial to their nations.

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There has been disquiet in some countries about the approach of Chinese investors, specifically where infrastructure has been built using Chinese materials and labour, and similarly with mining developments that have brought in large number of Chinese workers.

This has led to instances of social unrest and violence towards Chinese companies and individuals.

Locals have complained that they are not seeing the expected benefits from the investment, thus triggering frustration, resentment and anger.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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