by Yu Chen, Levi J Parsons
SYDNEY, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Although Australia has never historically viewed itself as being an Asia-Pacific nation, this perception may be starting to change in the continent, according to New South Wales State Member of Parliament for the Labor Party Shaoquett Moselmane.
"Australians continue to see themselves as part of the democratic, western world," he told Xinhua recently.
"Part of the Commonwealth of States and under the British Monarchy (and) bound by the ANZUS (The Australia, New Zealand and United States Security) treaty."
"Institutions of state operate with such a frame of mind and so do many Australians."
While it can be difficult for some Aussies to view the globe outside of this prism, Moselmane said it is also true that a significant proportion of Australians do not see the world in this simple black and white framework.
"They understand and appreciate their surroundings and many accept that we're in the Asia-Pacific region and must live with, accept and deal with Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and China, all as regional players and international players," he said.
"China today is on the rise. That's a fact. Some Australians have not as yet come to terms with this fact."
"Like all people they (Chinese) have hopes and aspirations for good health, wealth and prosperity and a successful future for their people."
"The reality is, China is a global economic engine which has served Australia well in the past century."
When it comes to the future, Moselmane believed that China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could also provide Australia with an array of potential economic opportunities in the 21st century.
Although the infrastructure project aimed at strengthening global trade networks across the world remains a topic of division in Australian political circles, the Labor Party has not rejected the BRI.
In fact, in the Labor-held state of Victoria, the government signed off on an MoU supporting the potential for cooperation on future BRI development projects.
"So, one must not pigeon hole Australians as somehow anti-Chinese," Moselmane said.
"I for one welcome China and welcome the Chinese people."
"Who in their right mind would not want to do business with a nation that has not only helped our economy grow but also in recent times helped us out of the Global Financial Crisis and lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty and into the middle class."
While Moselmane admitted, the portrayal of China across a range of Australian media outlets is often largely negative and in others sensationalized, he added that a growing number of Australians are actually looking for greater engagement with China.
"Today China's policies are about a broader engagement with all," Moselmane said.
"To me, China is a great nation. It has a considerable history and wonderful culture, highly creative and novel in its progress."