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China: behind the headlines « Previous | |Next »
May 18, 2009

The Guardian has a series on China at the cross roads-- the first articles are here and here and they show a country in a profound transformation. These are interesting and useful, because we do not hear much about what is happening to China in the increasingly downsized Australia mainstream media.

What we mostly hear is that China is being squeezed by the global economic recession and that is bad news for the mining sector. Oh, and China's internet firewall and bad human rights record. And that China is the key to Australia's unemployment problem. China replaced Japan as Australia's number one trading partner in 2007 and the economic recovery road leads to Beijing. This kind of commentary is about Australia and the Australia-China friendship---not about China, and so we hear very little about the widening gaps between the rich and the poor, and between cities and the countryside.

The other undercurrent in Australia's mainstream media is the fear of China---that is usually expressed around China's military intentions and strategic goals. Australia has a history of dependence on powerful friends---Britain and the US---and if it is in Australia's economic interest to have China as a friend, then China is not Britain or the US. It is a totalitarian regime and a flick of the switch activates all the old fears about the 'yellow peril'.

So we have a rather low level of political debate about China that is not that interested in what is actually happening in China.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:59 PM | | Comments (2)


Never let morals get in the way of a quick buck.

There is a lot of boosterism in Australia about China's future.The export sector may be struggling--hence the massive unemployment. However, it is but a small part of the economy and the domestic economy is going gangbusters and there are heaps of opportunities for Australia to make a good buck from ranging from minerals and education.

So says Simon Crean, the trade minister.