Exploring the economic tensions between China and Australia

November 14, 2014

Murdoch University academics argue the economic relationship between Australia and China is not as rosy as it might appear.

Professor Mark Beeson and Dr Jeffrey Wilson from the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs have been awarded more than $150,000 by the Australian Research Council (ARC) to research how the very different political and economic models of each country causes friction in the relationship.

Dr Wilson said that on the surface, economic relations between the two countries appeared to be highly complementary, with Australia rich in the natural resources that China’s industrializing economy demands. But he pointed out signs that all is not well.

“The way the Australian and Chinese systems work are completely and fundamentally different, and this sometimes causes tension and friction,” said Dr Wilson.

“Our political systems are varied, our businesses operate in diverse ways and the policymaking process is quite different. In such a context, it is not surprising that the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement talks have dragged on into their ninth year.

“The purpose of this research project is to provide governments and businesses in both countries with a better level of understanding on what the differences between China and Australia and its institutions are. By understanding how these institutions can affect the way we deal with each other, it will help to develop strategies to improve bilateral economic relations.”

Professor Beeson and Dr Wilson will be collaborating with Professor Yong Wang from the Peking University and Dr Fujian Li from the China Foreign Affairs University on the three year project, which is being funded by the ARC Discovery scheme.

Professor Beeson and Dr Wilson will be gathering information from Australian policy makers while their Chinese collaborators will be doing the same with the equivalent people in China.

They aim to publish their findings in academic journals and ultimately a book. Professor Beeson and Dr Wilson will also be compiling a report on their findings and running a workshop for policy makers in Canberra to assist with their dealings with China.

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