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Tony Abbott speech in China

Tony Abbott speech in China

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Published by Latika M Bourke

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Published by: Latika M Bourke on Jul 24, 2012
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07/24/2012

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THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITIONFEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH
**CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY**
24 July 2012
ADDRESS TO AUSTCHAM BEIJINGCHINA
E&OE……………………….……………………………………………………………………
 
WORKING HARDER ON A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP
In just over 30 years, hundreds of millions of Chinese have entered the middle class acquiring TVs, motorcars, extensive wardrobes, and air-conditioned homes.They have become better educated, more thoroughly informed and more widely travelled.For the first time since 1949, Chinese people can more-or-less decide how they work and where they live,
even outside the country, although they still can’t choose their government.It’s been a great watershed in human development as well as one of the most remarkable economic
transformations in human history.
China is tracking to be the world’s largest economy, perhaps within two decades.
Thanks to China, the world now enjoys reliable and inexpensive consumer goods plus the benefits of sellingits own products into an increasingly sophisticated Chinese market.Inevitably, the rise of China has brought challenges as well as benefits.The United States now has a more effective potential rival as well as a better potential partner.On the other hand, a US presence is now more welcome to the smaller countries of our region.On balance, the complications of economic advance seem much preferable to those of stagnation.Australia has played an important part in the rise of China.Our iron ore furnishes much of its steel, our coal and gas now powers much of its industry, and ouruniversities and colleges help to train many of its people.Our friendship with China is more recent than that with Japan and less developed than that with the UnitedStates but it is increasingly important for us and far from insignificant for the Chinese.
 
 
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Australia has never made the mistake of thinking that becoming better friends with one countryautomatically means becoming worse friends with another.Prime Minister John Howard understood that you could make a new friend without losing an old one.He famously declared that we do not have to choose between our history and our geography and managed
the relationship with China so that we didn’t have to choose between our interests and our values either.
 
It’s important to appreciate that the relationship between Australia and China hasn’t simply been an
economic one.Modern Australia is an immigrant society to which Chinese people have been coming almost since thearrival of the First Fleet in 1788.It seems that the first Chinese person to arrive in the then-colony of New South Wales was Ahuto, acarpenter, who came as a free settler in 1803.
The founder of Australia’s wool industry, John Macarthur, employed several Chinese.
The first Chinese to achieve some prominence was Mak Sai Ying who became publican of the Lion Inn inParramatta in 1829.
Thousands of Chinese joined the gold rushes from the 1850s, feeding Australia’s first resources boom.
By the time the six colonies formed a new Commonwealth, at the turn of the last century, more than 100,000Chinese had come to Australia.By then, though, the gold had dwindled. Many of the Chinese miners had gone home.Others had become craftsmen, market gardeners, grocers and cooks.
They had settled in Australia’s growing cities and established small businesses.
 Notwithstanding the limitations of official policy or occasional private prejudice, Australians have alwaysbeen an easy-going people ready to think well of others and to take them as they find them.
Parliamentary support for a restrictive immigration policy didn’t prevent Chines
e-speaking Senator ThomasBackhap from being a well-respected MP.There were Chinese Australians in the armed forces, such as Private Bill Sing, a sniper at Gallipoli, whowon the Distinguished Conduct Medal.Since immigration restrictions were finally lifted in the 1960s, hundreds of thousands more Chinese peoplehave settled in Australia as students, skilled workers and professionals.No less than Britons, Greeks, Italians, and Vietnamese, they have felt the gravitational pull of the Australianway of life.Their ready integration into the life of our country should give Australia and China a level of comfort andfamiliarity in dealing with each other.
 
 
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Australia’s cultural self 
-confidence has come from testing our ideas and our ways of doing things againstthose of others and changing ours whenever they have been found wanting.
The Chinese restaurant, long ubiquitous in Australia’s suburbs and towns, was an early sign of our readiness
to absorb foreign ways and make them part of our own.Many of the 700,000 Australians of Chinese ancestry have come via Singapore, Malaysia or Hong Kong and
could readily appreciate Australia’s British heritage.
These days, Australians of Chinese background abound in our professions and dominate the academicresults of many of our best schools.
Dr Victor Chang was one of Australia’s finest cardiologists. Professor John Yu, a former Australian of the
Year, is one of our foremost paediatricians.Their emphasis on the importance of family, hard work and education; their business acumen and their
instinct, in Prime Minister Menzies’ phrase, to be “lifters not leaners”, make them model citizens.I’m proud that the first Chinese
-born member of an Australian parliament was a member of my party: HelenSham-Ho MLC.So was the first Chinese-born member of the national parliament, Senator Tsebin Tchen.With their respect for tradition and aptitude for business, Chinese people should be natural liberalconservatives.
Australia’s conservative political leaders
have good Asia credentials.
It was Menzies who first referred to Asia as the “near north” rather than the “far east”.
It was the Menzies government that launched the Colombo Plan for the future leaders of Asia to study inAustralia.It was the Holt
government that ended the embarrassment of the “white Australia” policy.
Since Deng Xiaoping first introduced market reforms and opened China to the world, Australiangovernments of both sides have striven consistently to cultivate the best possible relations with China.
The Howard government’s approach to foreign policy, including relations with China, was to avoid giving
other countries gratuitous public advice in favour of trying to work together on matters of mutual interest.As health minister in the Howard government, I visited Beijing (twice), Shanghai, Hong Kong and Chengduin 2006 and 2007.I was keen to work with my then-Chinese counter-part, Minister Gao, to maximize precautions against apossible bird flu pandemic.
At my colleague’s invitation, I visited Sichuan province and was, so I’m told, the first Australian MP since
Bob Hawke allowed to cuddle a baby Panda bear.Should the Coalition win the next election, my goal would be to maintain this consistency.

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