The Guardian • Issue #2080

China’s market, Australia’s opportunity

Wind farm in Shanxi, China.

Wind farm in Shanxi, China. Photo: Hahaheditor12667 – Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Since the beginning of this year, the Chinese economy has withstood both risks and challenges from abroad, as well as the downward pressure brought by the interweaving of multiple domestic factors, demonstrating enormous resilience and potential. In the first three quarters, China’s GDP grew by 5.2 per cent year-on-year, ranking among the top of world’s major economies. Especially in August and September, economic performance continued to improve, and positive factors continued to accumulate, making the rebound trend more obvious.

Consumption has become the main cause of economic growth. With the implementation of a series of measures to promote consumption such as automobiles and home furnishings, the driving effect of consumption on China’s economic growth is gradually becoming apparent. In the first three quarters, the contribution rate of final consumption expenditure to economic growth was 83.2 per cent, driving GDP growth by 4.4 percentage points, while the contribution rate of final consumption expenditure to economic growth in the third quarter increased to 94.8 per cent. The fundamental role of domestic demand in economic growth continues to strengthen, and the economic recovery trend has further consolidated.

Industry is the ballast of economic growth. In the first three quarters of 2023, the added value of China’s industrial enterprises above designated size increased by 4 per cent year-on-year, while in the third quarter it increased by 4.2 per cent. In September it increased by 4.5 per cent. The industrial economy continued to recover and stabilise. New industries like new energy vehicles and lithium-ion power batteries are growing rapidly, forming a driving force in economic growth. New quality productivity is accelerating as planned, providing an important engine for high-quality economic development and the smooth realisation of a Chinese path to modernisation

Green energy and technology is the foundation of economic growth. The achievement of the ‘carbon peaking and carbon neutrality’ goal is a solemn declaration made by China to the world. China has established the world’s largest power supply and power generation systems, with hydropower, wind power, photovoltaic, and biomass power generation scale ranking first in the world for many years, as well as a plan to build large-scale wind and photovoltaic bases of 450 million kilowatts in the Gobi, and other desert areas. By the end of September 2023, the installed capacity of renewable energy in China was approximately 1.384 billion kilowatts, accounting for 49.6 per cent of the total installed capacity, surpassing that of thermal power.

Overall, the Chinese economy has entered a trend recovery track and is returning to potential growth levels. The mainstream view holds that the potential growth rate of the Chinese economy during the 14th Five Year Plan period is between 5 per cent and 5.5 per cent. From 2020 to 2022, due to the impact of the pandemic, market demand contracted and industrial chain circulation was blocked, which suppressed the growth of economic output, and the average annual growth rate of China’s economy was 4.5 per cent, lower than the potential growth level. As the impact of the pandemic subsides, demand and supply continue to recover. The economy grew by 5.2 per cent in the first three quarters of this year, creating favourable conditions for achieving the expected annual growth target of around 5 per cent.

As Chinese president Xi Jinping has pointed out, the international community is increasingly becoming a “community with a shared future,” where there is both self and self in each other. Facing the complex situation of the world economy and global problems, no country can be immune. The accelerated recovery of the Chinese economy will provide more opportunities for expanding foreign economic and trade cooperation. It will inject more momentum into the global economic recovery, and also bring more confidence to people around the world. According to IMF analysis, every 1 percentage increase in China’s economic growth rate will drive the growth rate of economies related to China by 0.3 per cent. Against the backdrop of escalating geopolitical conflicts and the world economy entering a recession, the strong recovery of China’s economy is of great significance.

The 6th China International Import Expo held in Shanghai recently welcomed more than 3400 companies from around the world, with 289 of the Fortune Global 500 and industry leading enterprises, all exceeding previous levels. Through various forms of exhibitions, we can feel the resounding pace of China’s high-level opening up. The opportunities brought by China’s continuous opening up of the huge market have been highly regarded by all parties, and the strengthening of China’s internal power and the burst of vitality in multiple fields have brought confidence in the development prospects worldwide.

2023 is the year of exchange, dialogue, and improvement in China Australia relations. In accordance with the spirit of the Bali meeting between president Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Albanese, foreign ministers of the two countries held a diplomatic and strategic dialogue and issued a statement of achievements, clarifying the roadmap for implementing the leaders’ consensus. After that, Premier Li Qiang and Prime Minister Albanese successfully met in Jakarta, and the two countries have achieved exchanges and visits in multiple fields, at multiple levels. From November 4 to 7, Prime Minister Albanese paid his first visit to China since taking office, coincidentally marking the 50th anniversary of former Prime Minister Whitlam’s visit to China. This is of great significance in connecting the past and opening up the future. China-Australia relations are now at the starting point of another 50 years, future prospects worth looking forward to.

Mutual benefit and win-win results are the essence of China-Australia relations. China is Australia’s largest trading partner, and its largest source of international tourism revenue and international students. Australia is also an important trading partner and source of investment for China. Looking ahead, China and Australia have broad prospects for cooperation in both traditional and emerging fields. Especially in areas such as addressing climate change, new energy, and green infrastructure, the two countries have enormous potential for cooperation in technology, funding, talent, and markets. The stable recovery and development of China Australia economic and trade cooperation will not only benefit the people of both countries, but also benefit the region and even the world, providing certainty in an uncertain world.

When it comes to China and Western Australia, the friendship and cooperation is even closer and sounder. China is WA’s biggest trading partner and largest market for goods exports and goods imports. In 2022, China accounted for 52 per cent of WA’s goods exports and 22 per cent of goods imports. China is WA’s largest export market for iron ore, lithium, nickel, gold, and wheat. 83 per cent of the iron ore, 97 per cent of the lithium, 59 per cent of the nickel, 38 per cent of the gold, and 26 per cent of the wheat produced in WA was exported to China in 2022.

It is particularly worth mentioning that from November 20 to 24, Premier Cook has visited Shanghai and Chengdu in China. This is the Premier’s first visit to China since taking office. I sincerely hope this visit has been a complete success, and will play a significant role in enhancing mutual understanding, expanding cooperation between Western Australia and China. Myself and my colleagues will continue to sincerely cooperate with people from all walks of life in Western Australia to promote the healthy and stable development of China-Australia relations.

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