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14 July 2011
Deakin University's experts on China and Asia, and for the first time other leading experts from China and the US will aim to create a global and regional buzz around China's rising role in the region at the 2011 Fulbright Symposium next month (11 and 12 August).
Sponsored by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission the event will be the first time that leading scholars and policymakers from Australia, the United States, and China have come together to share their views of the Australia-US alliance in the context of China's rise.
While lively international and public discussion on such an issue may seem par for the course, as Deakin University's Chair in International Studies, Professor Baogang He, explained such debates were not seen in South Korea, Japan, Singapore and other Asian countries and China's ascension was an unspoken topic between Australia, the US and China.
"In Asian countries such as those above, policy debates are the preserve of the elites and experts," he said.
"Nevertheless, current debate in Australia about its relationship with China and the US is inward, self-engaged and focuses too much on security and the shift in power.
"One of our presenters Hugh White has raised some important issues, yet there has been little response to him from China and the United States.
"To make Australian debate effective and for it to have the global and regional impact we desire, we need to need to develop a regional and global dialogue, beginning with dialogue involving scholars and policy makers from Australia, China and the US.
"The Fulbright Symposium will be the first step in this direction."
Professor He said such discussion was timely and current as Australia debated foreign investment and ownership issues amid China's growing influence in the region and in Europe.
"The rise of China has complicated the strategic relationship between Australia and the United States and has prompted difficult questions about adjustments to the alliance," he said.
"If Australia moves toward a more accommodating position in relation to China this may generate some anxiety in the US.
"It is in the interests of both Australia and the US to have a clear and open dialogue on this critical challenge so that each can understand the other's motivations and reasoning."
Professor He, whose own presentation will look at the trilateral relationship between the US, Australia and China, said while Australia and the US faced the same questions about the rise of China, their responses were quite different mainly due to variations in power, geography, economy, strategic position and political culture.
"The US is the global super power, China is a regional power and Australia is a middle power," he said.
"Australia is often seen as being of marginal importance by both the US and China, however Australia sees both as important partners, both historically and economically.
"The relationship lacks balance.
"If the US and China can maintain a good working relationship then Australia can avoid making a difficult choice and comfortably manage the relationships, if however Chinese and US relations involve ongoing tension or conflict then Australia might become a testing ground as the two powers seek to resolve their rivalry."
The symposium will be held in the Fitzroy Room, Sofitel Melbourne, 25 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Deakin Media Relations
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