Confucius Conversations 2014

An event with the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, aimed to stimulate debate around China‚Äôs economy, politics, culture and society.

At the annual Confucius Conversations, held on 12 August 2014, Professor Iain Martin, UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) invited the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Development to present a speech on the Australia-China Partnership in the Asian Century.

After providing a concise history of China’s relations with its neighbours and the world, and reminding the audience of the issues China currently faces such as implementing effective environmental protection methods, the MP arrived at the conclusion that the Australia-China relationship is one that needs to be, and most certainly can be, a positive one that reaps great benefits for both countries, including exchanges in education and new green technologies etc.

Plibersek emphasised that Australia does not need to “choose” between China and other countries. Australia is capable of maintaining strong relationships with all nations, and a good relationship with one does not mean diminishing relationships with others.

In response to a question about China’s role in the international stage, the MP reiterated her belief in the utilisation of multilateral institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She said it is Labour’s belief that in a world that is becoming more and more interconnected, both China and Australia need to participate actively in these international institutions rather than relying on bilateral relations. She noted that institutions like the IMF should “make room” for China, in other words, make room for the idea of China having more responsibility in international affairs.

Finally, Plibersek expounded passionately on the significance of interaction between the people of China and Australia, particularly interaction between students. She believes Chinese students who come to Australia should strive to fully immerse themselves in the culture here, and Australian students who go to China should do the same.

When students live in a foreign place, it can be easy and safe to just stick with what and who you know, surrounding yourself with those of the same nationality. However if students make the effort to step out of these boundaries and actively interact with the culture that surrounds them, they will gain an enriched understanding of that culture that cannot be gained any other way, and this understanding can lead to greater understanding and cooperation between China and Australia as a whole.



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