Australia’s attitude towards Asia has changed considerably since the end of the nineteenth century. In the late 19th century, Australia was almost completely closed for Asian immigrants. There was serious fear of everything related to Asia. However, Australians are open and even find a lot to learn from such Asian countries as China. Admittedly, numerous factors contributed to this change, though it is possible to trace certain milestones and periods in which new trends emerged.
In the first place, it is necessary to note that Australia was seen as a new settlement of Europeans (the British, to be more precise). Thus, European immigrants were afraid that Asians (the population of China was already large at the end of the nineteenth century) would take their land as easily as they had taken it from the aborigines (Bell 2013). The fear was persistent and it transformed into a severe rejection of Asian people. The war in Vietnam fuelled this rejection as thousands of refugees came to Australia trying to escape from famine and death. Australians were afraid that the system would fail and newcomers would become a reason for economic constraints. Financial difficulties Australia faced in the 1980s also contributed to the spread of the anti-Asian attitude. Bell (2013) notes that this fear and rejection can be traced in the system of education as only 0.5% of students studied an Asian language and there were no teachers who specialized in Asian art in Australia in 1990.
However, everything changed in the late 1990s and the 21st century. The economic success of Asian countries and their empowerment contributed to the change in public opinion. Asians are no longer seen as immigrants who are interested in Australian resources. At present, Australians are looking at the rising middle class of Asian countries as potential partners, producers, suppliers, and consumers. Moreover, the 21st century is called the Asian century (Australian Government 2012). Hockey (2012) states that Australians can learn a lot of lessons from Asian countries. Thus, the researcher stresses that entitlement programs negatively affect the Australian economy and Asian countries spend less and have better financial results. Cowgill (2012) shares this view and stresses that Asian countries have great potential while Australia is losing points. Hence, there is a certain fascination with Asian approaches and Asian countries are seen as potential partners. Nevertheless, it is also important to add that the fear is still present in Australia as many Australians see the development of the relationship between Asian countries and Australia as Asian expansion. Kelly (2012) notes that these fears can be easily diminished by raising awareness in Australians. The researcher stresses that people should understand the advantages of cooperation with Asians.
On balance, it is possible to state that Australians’ attitude towards Asian people has changed significantly in Australia since 1890. It changed from complete rejection and fear to fascination with a certain degree of concern. The financial success of Asian countries has played a key role in the change and Australians are ready and even eager to start a fruitful partnership with Asians.
Australian Government 2012, Australia in the Asian century, Web.
Bell, S 2013, Our Asian centuries: provenance and proximity, Web.
Cowgill, M 2012, Has Joe Hockey promised the end of the Australian safety net? Web.
Hockey, J 2012, The end of the age of entitlement, Web.
Kelly, M 2012, China’s cupcakes and Australia’s Asia fear, Web.