The relationship between Australia and China requires a focus on mutual understanding if it is to continue to yield benefits for both countries, according to experts at the In The Zone conference at The University of Western Australia.
Graham Fletcher, First Assistant Secretary North Asia Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said today that Australia and China needed a better understanding of each other's driving forces.
"Over the long term, for there to be a stable relationship, it requires both sides to have understanding and deal with each other as we really are, not as we hope we would be," Mr Fletcher said.
He said that despite some commentary to the contrary, Chinese investment was welcomed in Australia. "It is treated fairly; it is also booming," Mr Fletcher said.
He said that over the past two years, the Australian government had approved 110 applications for Chinese investment, with only five of those approved with conditions attached.
"We approach the future of our bilateral relationship with optimism and confidence," Mr Fletcher said.
Paul Glasson, Australia's Chief Representative in China of the Australia China Business Council, said the changing nature of China would include a shift towards greater levels of internal consumption. However, the country would continue to need more resources than it was able to produce, creating greater opportunities for Australia.
He predicted that China would continue to seek opportunities to increase investment in Australian resource projects, and Australia must have a vision for cooperation with China that balanced the interests of both parties.
Australian and Chinese companies should make greater efforts to understand each other's cultures and business decisions, Mr Glasson said.
In particular, companies needed to understand pressures that included expectations of shareholders and regulatory challenges.
"Appreciation of the other's position is the first step towards positive cooperation," he said.
IN THE ZONE is a major public policy conference initiated by The University of Western Australia positioning Western Australia as a thought leader within the time zone it shares with 60 per cent of the world's population and the nations which promise the greatest economic growth for the 21st century.
2009 marks the inaugural IN THE ZONE Conference. This will become a biennial event and a strategic meeting point for the Australian and wider regional community to engage in dialogue about the zone we inhabit and to deepen the policy, trade and investment relationships.
Information about In the Zone, including the conference program: http://www.zone.uwa.edu.au
NB: MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES MUST REGISTER TO COVER THE CONFERENCE. GO TO: http://www.zone.uwa.edu.au/news/media_registration