Resource nationalism or resource liberalism? Explaining Australia's approach to Chinese investment in its minerals sector

Jeffrey Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Since 2005, a burgeoning wave of Chinese investments has set off a new 'minerals boom' in the Australian iron ore and coal mining sectors. While normally a welcome development, the state-owned and strategic nature of the investors has raised concerns in Australia about how these should be regulated. As a result, in February 2008 the Australian government declared an intention to more closely screen foreign direct investment (FDI) from state-owned sources, which both supporters and detractors alike have claimed is evidence of 'resource nationalism' in Australia's approach towards its trade and investment relationships with China. This article challenges this understanding through an examination of the characteristics of Chinese mining FDI, the dilemmas these present to the Australian government, and the relatively restrained nature of its response. Through this, Australia's FDI policy is explained as a defensive move against the potential for strategic behaviour by Chinese investors resulting from their state ownership, rather than any national program to subject minerals trade and investment to political control. On this basis, the article argues that Australian government policy instead evidences a 'resource liberalism' approach, which intends to ensure that the governance of Australia's minerals trade and investment with China remain market-based processes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)283-304
    JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
    Volume65
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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