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Veteran journalist discusses China’s ‘New Era’

May 25, 2018

One of Australia’s leading specialists on China has urged New Zealanders to actively watch what he describes as a major transformation underway in the Asian superpower – one that has profound economic and political consequences domestically, around the region, and across the globe.

Rowan Callick is an award-winning Australian journalist with a long professional association with Asia. The NZ China Council and the North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence supported his recent visit to New Zealand, during which he spoke to audiences in Wellington and Auckland.

Pinning the detail of China’s transformation to President Xi Jinping’s 205-minute speech at the start of the 19th Communist Party congress last October, Mr Callick urged New Zealanders interested in China to seriously reflect on its content.

Mr Callick described China’s ‘New Era’ as one in which the country is stepping out internationally in a bold manner, and in which Xi is transforming China’s political and administrative structures. He lists his immediate goals as preventing financial risk, reducing poverty, and tackling pollution, while he continues to pursue his war on corruption, and is increasingly centralising control.

However, Mr Callick cautioned against viewing the Party as a monolith, noting that the Chinese people, especially young people, are highly individualistic.

Mr Callick advised that, as China enters a new era of global engagement, people should be realistic about their involvement with China – recognising its new position internationally. He stressed the need to keep the conversation frank and constructive, and for New Zealand to maintain its commitment to rules-based multilateral approaches to trade, particularly given the growing tensions between China and the US.

Read the NZCC’s recently-commissioned report: Belt and Road Initiative – A strategic pathway

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