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Our countries are friends, not rivals, in business

2009-04-24 14:47
  -by Consul General Hu Shan, published by the Sydney Morning Hearld on April 23, 2009

China and Australia, two major countries in the Asia-Pacific region with neither territorial disputes nor problems left over by history, have developed a mutually beneficial partnership. We have seen increasing mutual trust, fast-growing co-operation and a high number of people-to-people exchanges.

Against this background, the recent surge of anxiety over Chinese companies' growing interest in investing in Australia is, in my opinion, to meet trouble halfway.

Yes, Chinalco and China Minmetals are state-owned. But that doesn't disqualify them as independent market players to participate in international competition. Reformed in line with a modern enterprise system, Chinese state-owned companies have transformed themselves into self-disciplined market players, with separate ownership and management.

Chinese companies decide to invest in Australia according to their own growth plan. The idea of the Government having a hand in the decision-making is, simply, out of the question.

As I understand, most of the projects under discussion were initiated by Australian companies inviting investment. Australia is rich in mineral reserves, most of which are bound for export. On the other side of the Pacific, China's soaring manufacturing industry is a huge market for mineral products.

By investing in the Australian mineral industry, Chinese companies intend to secure for themselves a stable supply of raw materials, while sharing both the risk and the profit. This will also secure a stable market for Australian exporters.

In the present financial crisis, Chinese investment will help shore up troubled Australian companies.

Compared with the anxiety over Chinese state-owned companies' investment, the verbal attack on the privately-owned telecommunications company Huawei Technologies is anything but reasonable.

There have been allegations that Huawei is closely connected to the Chinese military. But the fact is that it was started by Ren Zhengfei in 1987, a decade after he left the army and worked for other local companies in the interim.

Huawei is successful because of its global strategy and technological innovation. It sells its equipment and services to 36 of the world's top 50 telecommunications operators.

More recently, some in the media alluded to a company associated with the Bank of China - the country's oldest commercial bank - donating money to Australian politicians in 1998. The truth is the Bank of China had quit that company in 1996.

As a result of economic globalisation, every country on the planet is connected to each other. No country can solve the economic crisis all by itself. Openness and inclusiveness are critical for developing economies, which was part of the consensus recently reached by the Group of 20 countries.

Trade between China and NSW reached $19.2 billion last year, a year-on-year increase of 17 per cent, in defiance of the economic crisis. Most of the Chinese investment has been in banking, minerals and traditional medicine, while companies from NSW have helped train Shanghai Expo's 180,000 staff members.

The reality is that China and Australia are economically complementary. The strategic co-operation of sharing risk and profits through investment is in the long- and short-term interest of each country. Healthy co-operation has brought tangible benefits to both peoples, and both countries are confronted with severe challenges. Shared difficulties call for joint efforts. It is now time that we joined hands and worked together, with mutual confidence for better co-operation.




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