ANZ Weekly Newsletter, Bluenotes. 17 September 2015. Is Australia really prepared for the Asian Century?, by Helen Clark.

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An edited extract of the original article appears below.

We are in the Asian Century but what does that mean? For Australia, there is a challenge in simply recognising the importance of understanding Asia and the varied cultures and the languages. But what is Australia’s real understanding of the region and is it greater than it might have been 20 or 30 years ago?

In July the non-partisan think tank the Lowy Institute held a panel event in Melbourne to discuss the findings of its recent poll ‘What Australians really think about the world’. Some findings were obvious enough: Australians are more concerned about terrorism than about war with China and welcome China’s input to the country’s economic growth even as they worry about investment in real estate.

However, two findings were surprising: most Australians do not know who Shinzo Abe, Narendra Modi or Xi Jinping are. Two thirds believe Indonesia is not a democracy – and this despite much reporting of the executions of the “Bali Nine” drug traffickers centering on Joko Widodo’s election promises. In fact, according to Lowy, 42 per cent of Australians don’t know who ‘Jokowi’ is…


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