Peter Costello, Treasurer in the Howard Government, is famously about to drop out of parliamentary politics, even if the majority of voters would have him rather than Malcolm Turnbull as Opposition Leader. Nowadays he writes regularly for The Sydney Morning Herald. Today he weighs into the China syndrome. I am sure many Costello-haters, and there are many, would love to pin “racism” on this article, but I don’t believe that would be fair. What he says, based on my own limited experience of doing business with China, is actually true.
…Stealing state secrets is not a common crime in Australia, and it is certainly not a crime to obtain information about your customers and how they might approach a commercial negotiation. If you do obtain such information, it cannot be a state secret because companies are privately owned.
In China, where the state owns so many companies, commercial information becomes a state secret, which tells you that these are not corporations in the way we understand them.
Supporters of the Chinalco proposal argued Chinalco was just like any other corporation. However, Chinalco was even more intertwined with the Chinese Government than other companies, as its chairman was an alternate member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
We should remember that the Australian Government did not rule that the Chinalco bid was contrary to our national interest. It never expressed a view about the application.
Rio pulled out of the proposal under pressure from its shareholders. As it turns out it could raise money elsewhere, and it recognised there was more benefit from an association with the Australian producer BHP than Chinalco – an association it had previously spurned…
As I found, only in China can you get copyright clearance for a whole group of authors by approaching the Department of Culture in Beijing. The state, rather than the authors, controls the copyright.