Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Editorial: Asia welcomes Australia

For geographical, historical and cultural reasons, Australia could never become fully integrated with Asia. But this should not stop Australia from trying its best to be part of the rising Asian Century, and given its unique role in the region, in helping to shape the emerging Asia-centric world order.

The white paper, titled “Australia in the Asian Century” and released on Sunday, provides a most detailed plan on how Canberra intends to be part of this exciting century during which the center of economic and political gravity of the world is decidedly shifting to Asia, thanks to the rapid development of China and India, and to a lesser extent Indonesia.

The paper, commissioned by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, presents 25 objectives that Australia must pursue to take advantage of the rise of Asia. Many of these objectives have already been pursued by earlier administrations as Australia recognizes that its fate and economic fortunes are closely tied to the rise of Asia.

The early efforts have paid off. Australia is already deeply involved with Asia in many ways. Economically, Australia has integrated well with the region. Politically, it is also involved in many of the processes of integrating the region and in resolving common challenges, through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the ASEAN processes and the East Asia Summit, the vehicle of choice to build the Asia Pacific community.

Australia’s demographic mix is also changing through immigration, particularly from enterprising Asians, which will help break down the cultural barrier that divides Australia from the rest of Asia.

Australia comes to Asia with many things to offer, from its well developed economic and financial system and its international-standard universities to its mastery of science and technology as well as technological know-how in the agriculture and mining sectors. Its historical and traditional links, and hence access, with Europe and the United States makes its unique in the region.

The white paper emphasizes the role of the Australian people. On Indonesia, it encourages the Australian community in Indonesia to help take the already booming relations to the next level. On economic ties, there is room for improvement; Australian companies in Indonesia can be the bridge in alerting Jakarta of our policy shortcomings that have deterred foreign investors, and in informing their own people and government back home about the growing business opportunities in Indonesia.

With the white paper, relations between Australia and Asia, particularly with Indonesia, can only get better. The Jakarta Post

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