Australia and China – the Relationship

Gerry Brady May 7, 2019 38 No Comments

The links between Australia and China started in the early 1850s when many Chinese immigrants came to Australia as indentured labourers working as shepherds, rural labourers, cooks and gardeners. In 1853, the first boatload of Chinese miners arrived in Victoria. Between 1854 and 1855, about 31,000 Chinese people arrived on the Australian goldfields. So Chinese people have been a part of the Australian population for over 150 years. Today, there are 1.2 million people living in Australia with Chinese ancestry.

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and the two nations share a common destiny because of that. But this relationship has to be well managed because China outweighs Australia by a large degree. China has a population of almost 1.5 Billion people (1,500 Million) while Australia has just 25 Million people.

Nevertheless, Australia has an advanced economy that is one of the Top 20 economies in size  on the planet. This gives it a place in the G20 Group of Nations. The Australian economy is about $ 2 Trillion in Australian Dollar terms and about US$ 1.4 Trillion in US Dollar terms, about the same size as Russia’s economy. The Chinese economy is estimated to be US$ 12.2 Trillion. Some say it is much larger.

The Australian economy, like most advanced western economies, is principally dominated by the provision of services but construction and mining are large industries.  Services make up 61.1% of the economy, Construction is 8.1%, Mining is 6.9%, Manufacturing is 6.0% and Agriculture is 2.2% of the whole. The labor force is 12.7 million people. Measured in GDP per capita, Australia is the 10th largest economy on Earth.

China’s economy is changing its mix away from a heavy dependence upon manufacturing. The economy is now 51.6% services, 40.5% industry and 8% agriculture. The labor force is 803 million but falling due to aging demographics. Measured in GDP per capita, China is the 67th largest economy on Earth.

Australia exports total US$ 190 Billion and 31% of that goes to China. Imports are about the same US$ 196 Billion and China is again the major partner with 23.4% of that total. China is Australia’s largest services export market, valued at $15.8 billion, following the opportunities created by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Services provision is growing rapidly.

China exports US$ 2.48 Trillion principally to the US, Europe and its ASEAN neighbour nations. They import about US$ 2.13 Trillion mainly from Europe, its ASEAN neighbours, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan. Only 7.24% of its imports come from the USA.

Over 120,000 Chinese students study in Australian schools and universities and China is the largest purchaser of Australian Bonds. 1.4 million Chinese tourists visit Australia every year while 700,000 Australians visit China.



Graphical Reference: Wikipedia – China–Australia Free Trade Agreement

The graphs clearly show the huge growth in trade between China and Australia over the last 28 years since 1990.


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