Chinese wind of change for Australian society

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20 March 2012

You would have to be blind and living in a cave not to realise that change is in the wind with regards to China and Australia's place in Asia.

From a Chinese food festival in town to the young Chinese couple you met recently, the Chinese wedding you passed in the park to the students from China on the university campus, the Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister to the billion-dollar resource deals every second week, a cultural infusion is occurring alongside China's growing economic and political importance for Australia.

Generally this is a very good thing, and a positive sign that Australia has come some way from the Immigration Restriction Act of the White Australia Policy, and early twentieth century racial characterisations of the Chinese as agents of opium, vice and disease. Of course, with Hansonism not long behind us, the Cronulla riots, bashings of Indian students, and the popularity of shows like 'Border Security', it would be naïve to think fear of the 'Other' does not still lurk below the surface, or indeed parade across the political landscape with its flag hoisted high. But when 'Constructivist' political theorists speak of the intersubjective constitution of social configurations in the international arena, I'm pretty sure the changing relationship between Australia and China fits the bill.

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Photo: Flickr / Raymond Larose

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