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The Asialink Essays

November 3 2010

Australia's international relations are increasingly located in Asia rather than the rest of the World.

What are the challenges ahead?
What are the opportunities for business, for greater cultural exchange, for Australia's role in the region?

In The Asialink Essays series, launched in April 2009, leading commentators explore key issues in Australia's engagement with Asia. Editors and Contributors.

Vol. 2, No. 5, 2010

Foreign policy has played virtually no role in Australia’s race to the polls on 21 August, beyond the domestic hot button issues of asylum seekers and immigration, writes Geoffrey Garrett, CEO of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. But whoever wins government this month will face important strategic choices in positioning Australia for the Asia-Pacific Century, beginning with our key relationships with China and the US. He says China's insatiable appetite for raw materials offers the prospect of a decades-long mineral boom for Australia, but economic engagement must be coupled with political and security wariness - and a strengthening of the Australia-US alliance.

Vol. 2, No. 4, 2010

The appointment of a new Prime Minister provides an obvious opportunity for reflection. Whether we now press ahead with the Asia Pacific community venture or focus more sharply on the task of positioning Australia with respect to East Asian regionalism, we need to listen carefully to the conversation of the Asian region.

Zhu Liqun of China, Tan Seng Chye of Singapore and Prapat Thepchatree of Thailand start the Asian conversation, introduced by Anthony Milner.

Vol. 2, No. 3, 2010

Australia’s Productivity Commission will release a draft review in June 2010 of the impact of bilateral and regional trade agreements on Australia’s trade and economic performance.

Trade policy expert Professor Ann Capling, and CEO of the Australian Industry Group Heather Ridout, share their respective views.

Asialink Dunlop Medalist and distinguished international relations scholar, Professor Nancy Viviani, addresses the "Big Country" immigration debate. We haven't thought enough about the social and economic impact of the latest anticipated increases in immigration, she says - the "explosive" mix created when a relatively low skilled local population comes under pressure from high levels of more skilled migration. Treasury, she says, thinks it is cheaper to free-ride on the educational investments by other countries in our migrants, while failing to properly build our own skill-levels.

Whales Apart: Tensions in Japan–Australia relations [pdf, 396kb, 7 pages]

Good relations with Japan are critical for Australia. On by far the majority of issues, our two countries tend to agree, but on whaling we have hit an impasse. Australians are strongly opposed and - says Trevor Wilson - the Japanese have adopted international behavior entirely out of their normal character. International thinking on whaling has changed: Japan could cease open sea whaling and win enormous international support, he argues. In the mean time, Australia would be wise to stop provoking Japan unnecessarily and allow it to back down with some grace.
Ignorance is Not Bliss; Art and its place in Australia-Asia Relations [pdf, 348kb, 9 pages]

Alison Carroll reveals how the Arts are a microcosm of our Australia-Asia engagement. Unless we are proactive in Asia, the burgeoning Arts community in Asia will continue to grow in complexity and internal goodwill, and Australia will remain forever on the edge. Australia must make some harder decisions, including re-looking at the Australia Council’s quota of half its international funding being for Asian projects. That quota, set in the early 1990s, was never met. It reached 35 per cent around 1993, and has since quietly fallen away.

Alison Carroll established and is Director of the Arts Program at Asialink, the leading program for arts exchange between Asia and Australia for visual arts, performing arts, literature and arts management practice. Her new book, The Revolutionary Century; Art in Asia 1900-2000 is out early 2010, published by Macmillan.

Media Coverage: Gabriella Coslovich delights in the art of our neighbours in a review of the Asia Pacific Triennial, and refers to the Asialink Essay, Ignorance is Not Bliss, by director of Asialink Arts, Alison Carroll. "An art for blurring borders", Gabriella Coslovich, cover story, The Age, Holiday Edition [pdf, 540kb, 2 pages], also available online