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Importance of youth dialogue

10-08-2010 10:24 BJT

by Henry Makeham

BEIJING, Oct. 8 (Xinhuanet) --The Asia-Pacific region has entered an unprecedented era of change. As the current growth engine of the global economy, China is now more and more deeply linked to Australia through the strategic resource trade. The rise of China means that today's youth in Australia and China - tomorrow's stakeholders in Sino-Australian affairs - will be charged with a hugely important regional relationship in a period of flux, as the face of international politics and economics undergoes a fundamental paradigm shift.

Between Oct 4 and 6, the inaugural Australia-China Youth Dialogue ( in Beijing and Shanghai sought to break down misconceptions and enhance mutual respect, trust and understanding between future stakeholders in Sino-Australian affairs.

The dynamics of political power in Asia Pacific is shifting to East Asia and the future prosperity and security of young Chinese and Australians will to a significant degree rest upon how this power shift is best managed. No one can accurately gauge how long the transition will take - there are too many unpredictable variables. But it can be safely assumed that the rise of China and its corresponding impact on the Asia-Pacific regional order will span several generations.

From a Sino-Australian perspective, the interests of avoiding tensions and mitigating fears that may surround China's rise will be served by deeper understanding between Chinese and Australian youth through increased cross-cultural dialogue among our nations' future stakeholders and leaders.

The development of dialogue between the youth of the two countries is an exercise that deserves the support of the Australian and Chinese governments, their private sectors - especially the resource and financial services sectors which have strong mutual interests in stable Sino-Australian relations - and leading academic institutions. The endeavor should be characterized by frank and robust exchanges.

China is now irrefutably a central player across the gamut of Asia Pacific affairs. Building a relationship between China and Australia within which intentions and perceptions can be tested and honed is an important objective.

The scale of China's rise and the economic opportunities generated from its growth, have naturally brought the Asia-Pacific region closer to its orbit. At the same time, China's rise is steadily - though not absolutely - wresting away the United States' relative prestige and influence.

The domination of the Asia-Pacific order by the US - which has underwritten stability and relative prosperity within the region since World War II - is in question. What is China's view of its place in the Asia-Pacific order? How will this translate into engagement with the region? Does China seek to undermine and challenge the US' primacy? Or does China seek to share responsibilities with the US and other powers in a new regional and world order?

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