The Australian: Taiwan votes for freedom, so let’s do a free trade deal

A few years back, the government walked away from a free-trade deal with Taiwan after Beijing signalled its displeasure.

The Coalition has successfully ­negotiated free-trade deals with South Korea, Japan, China and Hong Kong since 2013.

It should reward Taiwan’s courage by offering it a free-trade agreement as well. Taiwan, like us heavily dependent on China trade, would be a willing signatory.

Australia could increase its resource, education and tourism exports, and perhaps absorb some of Taiwan’s expertise in advanced manufacturing. Most important, a democratic Taiwan would shore up our own strategic interests. Taiwan provides a shield for US bases in Guam and Okinawa that are critical to US supremacy, and our security, in the Pacific Ocean.

Such a free-trade deal would ­irritate the Chinese Communist Party, but relations are already strained. China is hardly going to stop buying our much-needed iron ore and coal.

If it could obtain those res­ources more cheaply elsewhere, it would be doing so. Germany is dependent on Russia for natural gas, much as China depends on Australian iron ore, but few argue Germany has the upper hand in that relationship.

And if China slashed the number of students studying at our universities, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing given how dependent and damaged those institutions have become by that torrent of ­Chinese cash.

Singapore, Japan and even New Zealand have trade deals with Taiwan, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t. Alternatively, Australia could encourage Taiwan, with GDP per capita about $US25,000 ($36,000), not much less than Spain, to join the multi-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, helping deflect some of China’s wrath a little.

Full article (includes interesting analysis of the PRC’s economic prospects):

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