The People Next Door: Australia and the Asian Crisis

Australia is the nearest Western country to that great bonfire of the vanities, the Asian crisis. The fear is that it may also be the most combustible.

Issue: Summer 1998

Australia is the nearest Western country to that great bonfire of the vanities, the Asian crisis. The fear is that it may also be the most combustible.

The extent of Australian dismay at this state of affairs can be understood only by reflecting on how Australia long ago set about repelling influences from Asia and denying its proximity to that continent; how comparatively recent it is that the country woke from its Eurocentric dreamtime; how uncritical fashionable opinion was in proclaiming the new dawn of Australia's intimacy, if not identification, with an emergent and dynamic Asia; and how ambiguous the new relationship has in fact proved to be. A brief recapitulation of some salient features of Australia's history over the last century will aid such understanding.

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