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The Forum > Article Comments > Backs to financial future > Comments

Backs to financial future : Comments

By Greg Barns, published 30/11/2010

Australia is looking decidedly protectionist and xenophobic about Chinese investment.

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"The problem is that Brown does not make the same noises about other foreign investors from other countries - after all, no nation has a perfect human rights record".

Greg, how about eleborating a bit on this point rather than suggesting Brown is a loony, when clearly this is a growing concern about China from many around the world.

And who is suggesting that Aust doe snot continue to accept important foreign investment, even from China? I say take their money, but never give them control of important assets.

You attack arguments as if they are extreme, yet offer the other extreme.

Do you also reject growing public concern about china?

Or are you another so-called policy elites calling on govts to ignore various public concerns?
Posted by Chris Lewis, Tuesday, 30 November 2010 7:58:10 AM
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Sorry Greg but your theory lacks the back drop of Australian history. I am kind of buoyed by your anxieties directed towards the actions of Australian politicians in protecting future interests and directions of the country.

Over the years Australians have watched helplessly as industries and jobs stampeded across the same oceans to China that now offer the return journey to their host to buy the total farm. If the limiting of foreign investment in Australia by necessary controls to such is seen as a threat to progress and growth, then I for one am all for it.

The free for all of foreign investment in this country has eclipsed the high tide mark; it is time for a rethink and reassessment of who are the winners and losers in the end game of the past policies of the Keating and Hawk years you apparently aspire to.

The great Globalism game is a failure to the masses. It has become the mount Everest summit of impossibilities it was always predicted to be, and if you believe Woolworths and Coles offer a panacea to cost containment you obviously donít do your own shopping
Posted by diver dan, Tuesday, 30 November 2010 8:30:17 AM
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Gee...how to win an argument without even trying - just used the words Pauline Hanson and xenophobia and no other discussion need be entered into.

Even Simon Crean (when Trade Minister) who is largely for Chinese investment in Australia and reducing free trade restrictions, argued that investment from China should be handled on a case-by-case basis (after the Rio Tinto concerns were raised).

"...deciding whether or not to allow forcing investment is simply a recipe...to vested interests like farmers and other protected species who think they have a right to an income."

It is not just about protecting Australian agricultural interests (which is important) but encompasses a number of concerns such as biosecurity and use of toxic chemicals at import point, labelling anomalies, lack of transparency in business negotiations.

Do we as a nation, purporting to stand for human rights, see our own agricultural industry decline in offering China opportunities - whose business rules are hardly transparent (eg. shadow factories), where there is no governance not only in relation to industrial relations, not to mention the human rights record. Australia placed trade sanctions on Iraq and South Africa during apartheid, but suddenly have become closed eyed on China.

There is nothing wrong with any nation setting their own rules as regards trade - even if it means a bit of give and take. Most countries do not have the climate to grow all varieties of produce - there is always room for export opportunities.

Nationalism is not a dirty word as you make it out to be - history shows 'nationalism' in various lights depending on the political agenda of the times. Nationalism is only a curse if it is used to bring hardship on another nation or to invade a country for no other purpose but self interest (Eg. Hitler's version of nationalism).

A bit of nationalism would go a long way in those developing countries who are at the mercy of corrupt governments and foreign investors who flaut the laws of decency just to make a buck.
Posted by pelican, Tuesday, 30 November 2010 8:30:34 AM
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I would agree with Pelican.

What an emotive and manipulative article.

We sell coal and iron ore to China, and currently we are in debt to China. The author also wants China to own more of our land and assets.

Maybe the author should live in China.

Australia also has pseudo economic growth. If it wasn't for the sale of coal and iron ore, Australia would be bankrupt.
Posted by vanna, Tuesday, 30 November 2010 9:45:13 AM
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I agree with most previous comments.The author's arguments seem remarkably naive, free trade requires all trading participants to play by the same rules.China is a mercantilist,authoritarian,state- capitalist society and certainly doesn't follow free trade principles,particularly in regard to foreign investment in China itself. So instead of the usual straw man arguments that scepticism in regard to the motives of the Middle Kingdom rulers is motivated by 'racism' or 'xenophobia' let's look at the facts.

Free trade is a Western fantasy, the Asian tiger economies were built on mercantilist principles not free trade. Perhaps one day China will be a liberal democratic society which follows the rule of law,until then, let's scrutinise Chinese investment proposals very,very carefully.
Posted by mac, Tuesday, 30 November 2010 10:24:16 AM
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Mac

Free trade does not require everyone to play by the same rules, though it delivers the best outcomes in they do. Tariffs reduce living standards in countries that apply them by raising prices and diverting economic resources away from their most productive uses. So reducing protectionism raises living standards even if other countries donít do the same.

Greg is right to point out that economic nationalism has long been a hallmark of the far right and far left in Australia. It has been confined to the ideological margins by a consensus in the political mainstream that deregulation and openness to trade has delivered stronger economic growth and resilience, to our great benefit. If economic nationalism gains ground it could do serious harm to our living standards.

Look to India if you want to see the effects of a controlled experiment in the costs of protectionism. Until the 1970s their governments were interventionist and protectionist, pursuing economic self-sufficiency behind high tariff barriers. The economy stagnated. Since India began to remove tariffs and deregulate its economy, growth has picked up.

I agree, however, that China does not follow free trade principles, and in particular it may pursue strategic objectives in acquiring and developing Australian assets that may not deliver the same economic benefits to Australia that a profit-maximising competitive business would normally do. Chinese investment merits more intense scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Review Board than investment from more open and less government-directed economies. But we need to keep a sense of proportion here. The paranoid talk about China is eerily similar to anti-Japanese sentiment 20 years ago. China holds a tiny proportion of Australiaís foreign investment and an even tinier percentage of its total assets
Posted by Rhian, Tuesday, 30 November 2010 3:16:03 PM
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