Text by Xu Xun
In modern times, the economic development of any country is heavily reliant on its supply of resources. As for the Asia-Pacific region, Australia abounds in resources, while Asian countries with accelerated economic growth have increased demand for resources. Aside from bilateral trade, what avenues of cooperation can both sides pursue?
On May 19, 2011, the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) announced in Beijing that the BFA Energy, Resources & Sustainable Development Conference would be held on July 11 and 12 this year, in Perth, Australia. Approximately 300 government officials, industry leaders, scholars and experts will gather to calculate global supply and demand of resources and energy, explore innovative solutions to energy constraints and climate change challenges, and share visions and insights on growth and sustainability.
Along with its annual meetings, the BFA also organizes some specialized conferences in Asia and elsewhere in the world, which focus on regional and industrial issues aimed more at entrepreneurs, and are usually held in countries and cities closely associated to their respective themes.
A Country on Mine Carts
When speaking of Australian icons, the first to come to mind may be kangaroos, koalas, and the Sidney Opera House. However, many Australians consider the land’s abundant mineral resources key to their country’s wealth and prosperity.
More than 240 years ago, when he landed on the desolate coast of Australia in the Southern Hemisphere, Captain James Cook, a British explorer and navigator, never imagined he stood on a “land of gold mines.” Due to its primitive, unique geological structures formed in the Ice Age, Australia boasts rich mineral deposits. In the late 19th century, the Australian Gold Rush attracted numerous diggers from around the world. Nicknamed the “country on mine carts,” Australia is now one of the world’s most important mineral exporters.
Historically, Australia paid more attention to developing its economic relationship with the United States. Along with Asia’s economic emergence, however, the Australian government began positioning Asian countries at the forefront of its diplomatic policies. Since it formulated the policy of “merging with Asia” in the 1980s, Australia has shifted its strategic priorities to the Asia-Pacific region. So far, relying on its plentiful natural resources, significant geographic location, and “middle power” status, Australia has become a major player in the Asia-Pacific family.