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End 'whisper campaign' on China investment: academic
21/08/2012 - A Sydney academic has called for an end to the "whisper campaign" against Chinese investment in Australia, saying politicians need to adopt a more pragmatic and less emotive approach.
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A month after federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told a Beijing forum it would "rarely be in Australia's interest" to allow a foreign government to control an Australian business, Professor Geoffrey Garrett has spoken out against such anti-China fears.
Prof Garrett, dean of the University of Sydney business school, said Chinese state-owned companies were already investing in Australia, "often with the approval of the FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board)".
He said it was "hard to see how" China could harm Australia's national interest through investment in the mineral, energy and agricultural sectors.
"No one believes Australia will be able to make the most of the mining boom without lots and lots of foreign investment," he said in a statement on Monday.
"There will always be defence and security reasons to deny foreign investment in Australia, but that doesn't mean throwing a blanket over Chinese investment here."
A University of Sydney-KPMG study has shown that almost all the $50 billion of Chinese investment over the past five years has been in the mining and energy sectors, he said.
"Resource security is no doubt the driving motivation behind Chinese investment in Australia," Prof Garrett said.
"(But) in order to ensure that lots of natural resources head China's way with predictable supply and low prices, Chinese firms will need to act in a commercially responsible manner."
During his visit to China in July, Abbott said he would welcome Chinese investment on the same basis as from other nations, but raised concerns about the prevalence of state-owned enterprises in China.
"That's because we don't support the nationalisation of business by the Australian government, let alone by a foreign one," he said.
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