Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull joined many of the world’s leading experts on China at the Australian National University (ANU) 2014 China Update.
Economic and political reform was the focus of the fourteenth China Update, which was presented by the China Economy Program within the ANU Crawford School.
Mr Turnbull opened the event, using his speech to highlight the rapid economic growth experienced by China over the last twenty years.
“China is exceptional - unique - in so many ways, in both the pace and scale at which it has taken hundreds of millions of people from poverty to the middle class.
“No country, large or small, has quadrupled its per capita income from $2000 to $8000 in so short a time as the 16 years it took China, from 1995 to 2011. Australians needed 107 years to do that. Although to be fair that was a very long time ago,” he said.
However he also suggested there is significant reform work ahead for China.
“The challenge for the political leadership is how to ensure that household income and consumption can grow faster than GDP, with the consequence that there will be slower growth in investment and especially construction activity but do so without unacceptable increases in unemployment.
“A Chinese economy with a higher share of consumption (say 50 per cent plus ) will have a much larger services sector which is, of course, much more labour intensive than the capital intensive heavy industries and infrastructure projects which have been so advantaged in the past,” he said.
Chair of the 2014 China Update Professor Ross Garnaut said the series of panel discussions with leading academics and policy makers was a highlight of the event.
“The panel format allows for free flowing discussion amongst top intellectuals. By incorporating audience questions the format allows for new perspectives from visitors and brings out discussion on emerging issues,” Professor Garnaut said.
2014 China Update: Deepening Reform for China’s Long-term Growth and Development is available for download at ANU Press.