New arrival in with a win

July 18, 2012

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Murdoch University’s newest staff member, Dr Jeffrey Wilson, has been awarded the inaugural Boyer Prize by the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

Given for the best article published in the Australian Journal of International Affairs during 2012, Dr Wilson’s paper examines the Australian Government’s approach to its resource investment relationship with China.

“Supporters and detractors alike have claimed Australia’s recent tightening of rules for Chinese investment in the mining industry is a form of resource nationalism – essentially the state politically interfering in the operation of international resource markets,” Dr Wilson said.

“However, evidence shows that Australia’s approach to Chinese resource investment is actually market-based. Controls on foreign direct investment can be viewed as largely defensive regulations aimed at preventing potential non-commercial behaviour by state-owned Chinese corporations.”

Dr Wilson said Chinese investment differs from investment from other sources because it is backed by government financial assistance and is associated with state-directed attempts to influence the operation of international minerals markets.

This influence includes the stated goal of developing ‘captive mines’ owned by Chinese firms to influence international prices for minerals such as iron ore.

Dr Wilson dismisses arguments that the Government’s policies have restricted the access of Chinese investors to the Australian mining industry, as well as claims by Clive Palmer that the Government’s approach is driven by xenophobia.

“The Australian Government’s intention is to place minerals trade and investment patterns with China squarely in the market, and has not prevented Chinese enterprises investing in the Australian mining industry,” Dr Wilson said.

Dr Wilson will be joining Murdoch University’s Asia Research Centre on August 1. He said Perth’s proximity to Asia, and the broader opportunity the mining boom has brought, are transforming the city into one of Australia’s most vibrant and diverse capitals.

“The mining boom has seen Perth increasingly become the gateway between Australia and Asia, and over the last few years I repeatedly found myself 'going west’ for fieldwork research. Combined with Murdoch's strengths in the political economy of Asia, Perth is without question the best location for someone like myself to be based,” he said.

Dr Wilson’s paper can be accessed for free here.

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