Chinese President Xi Jinping will be making a short visit to Tasmania following his participation in the G20 meeting in Brisbane and his address to a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament on 17 November. The choice of destination is unusual and certainly not one which dignitaries visiting Australia often consider. So why Tasmania?
The visit to Tasmania in many ways reflects the trip which President Xi planned to make to the state of Sabah during his official trip to Malaysia a year ago. That visit was mysteriously cancelled before it took place, with no reason given for the cancellation. Like Sabah, Tasmania is a relatively isolated and poor state which at times sees itself as being treated somewhat offhandedly by the federal government. As a result it is often seeking alternatives to federal funding. Chinese tourism has provided great economic benefit to Sabah and is increasingly doing so in Tasmania. Smaller political units are of course also more susceptible to blandishments.