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Australia should consign to history its anti-China bias | Updated: 2017-12-21 20:12
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There was once an ostensibly sweet honeymoon for Beijing and Canberra, when booming trade produced overwhelming optimism about the mutually beneficial nature and bright prospects of bilateral ties.

But what has been happening in Australia recently is a stark reminder that it may not be the kind of friend many in China have thought it to be.

If Australian media's political witch hunt targeted at "Chinese influences", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's undisguised China-bashing, and the legislative moves aimed at restraining so-called foreign infiltration have soured government-to-government relations, recent reports of attacks on Chinese citizens studying in Australia have further tarnished the country's image in the eyes of the Chinese public.

The recent Australian hysteria over "Chinese influence" in the country, which has been conspicuous in public offices and among private citizens, calls for both the Chinese government and ordinary Chinese citizens to recalibrate their previous, possibly overly optimistic views about Australia as a country.

Beijing wants little more beyond Australia's rich reserves of natural resources, yet Canberra, while hungry for Chinese money, is deeply suspicious of its intentions, as revealed in Australia's recent foreign policy white paper. China is thus an easy scapegoat for Australia's domestic troubles in the local political in-fighting.

Australia has been a favored trading partner of China for good reasons. But there is no guarantee this will continue to be the case if the political climate in Australia continues to be hostile. After all, from the perspective of materials supply, Australia is far from irreplaceable. Nor is it in terms of education or tourism, two sectors of the Australian economy that have benefited tremendously from Chinese spending.

Australia's recent appeal to Chinese students lies largely in its low threshold. And the country was known as a safe, tourist-friendly destination. If incidents of bodily harm targeted specifically at Chinese nationals continue growing, there can be little doubt Chinese parents will think twice before sending their children to study there. Likewise, travelers will opt for more friendly places.

That all Chinese consulates in Australia have simultaneously issued safety alerts after recent cases of Chinese students being insulted or attacked is unprecedented in recent memory. It reveals the severity of the situation in the eyes of our diplomatic missions.

Time moves on, Australia should not try to cling to the certainty of an outdated past because it fears the uncertainties brought about by change. The bias against China being pandered by some in Australia only reveals it needs to shake off its Cold War mentality so it can step confidently into the present.

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