Australia’s Asian Century White Paper was welcomed as a great gift for China’s new president Xi Jinping in the Chinese media which also dubbed Australia a “Reform Vanguard” in the second Industrial Revolution led by Asia.
The White Paper, which aims to strengthen cooperation with China, India and other Asian countries, was released publicly on October 28, just a month before China’s leadership transition and four months after president-to-be Xi Jinping visited Australia.
“The stable and healthy development of the China-Australia relationship meets the demand of the interests of the peoples two countries and will benefit regional peace, stability and development,” Xi said when he met Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith, reported the Xinhua News.
“China is willing to work with Australia, taking the opportunity of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations to promote comprehensive cooperation between the two countries to move forward.”
Xi has visited Australia twice within the past five years and left his footprint on all the states and territories on Australia’s mainland.
“[Xi Jinping] really knows Australia, and 10 of the 12 popular candidates of the Central Committee members have visited Australia too,” Sun Fangan, the Australian ambassador to China, said in the Xin Kuai Bao.
“The new leadership has many problems to handle, so, China needs sustained and stable political circumstances.”
The White Paper sets objectives of commercial and trade cooperation with Asia and encourages Australians to be Asia-literate. These aims also nicely meet China’s new leadership’s demands to seek peaceful development and healthy relations with other countries, while generating economic development for Australia.
“Australian Prime Minister Gillard said they hope to seize the historic opportunity of the rise of Asia to promote economic development, especially through developing trade with China and India. The white paper calling the 21st century the Asian Century is a surprising about-face,” reports the People’s Daily in Beijing.
Australia took a massive strategic shift from seeing China’s rapid development as a threat to recognising its irresistible rise and the mutual benefits. China’s media has read this shift as far-sighted and pioneering foreign policy.
Before the release of the Asian Century White Paper, a majority of governments insisted the change in the strategic environment caused by Asia’s rise as a deepening of degree, not the changing of substance.
“They [most of governments] are unwilling to accept the reality that Asia has radical changes, but Julia Girard’s Asia Century White Paper changed the rules. It is not just fixing current policy, but a bold breakthrough. She is breaking the tendency of governments to maintain the current policy and to boycott the profound changes,” Li Wanran, a journalist of the official website of China Central Television, said.
Australia’s friendly action has also raised huge responses on China’s social media. Quite different from the official media, this is where you find the aspirations of China’s young people. Many thirst to study abroad and are excited about the educational opportunities created by the now very stable relationship between China and Australia.
Sydney Today, a Chinese website in Australia, posted on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter: “Australia’s government will increase capital investment, improve the educational environment and quality, simplify Visa procedures and create more employment opportunities for international students from Asian countries.”
The deepening of economic and cultural exchanges between China and Australia will generate unprecedented benefits for China’s young people to study and work in Australia.