Julia Gillard unveils Australia's plan to strengthen ties to Asia


Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard makes answers a question from the press as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on during her ceremonial reception at the Indian presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 17, 2012 in Delhi, India. Sunday, October 28, Gillard announced a foreign policy plan to strengthen ties and trade with Asia.


Daniel Berehulak

Julia Gillard, Australia's Prime Minister, announced a plan on Sunday to significantly increase the country's ties to Asia. 

The 312-page policy document, called "Australia in the Asian Century," outlines the efforts of Australia to benefit from Asia's economic boom, including increasing trade with the continent to a third of Australia's GDP and making Mandarin and Asian studies a more central part of schools' curriculum. 

"The scale and pace of Asia's rise is staggering, and there are significant opportunities and challenges for all Australians," Gillard said in a speech announcing the plan, BBC News reported. "It is not enough to rely on luck — our future will be determined by the choices we make and how we engage with the region we live in."

"Whatever else this century brings, it will bring Asia's return to global leadership, Asia's rise. This is not only unstoppable, it is gathering pace," Gillard added. 

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Gillard also said that Australia would be able to maintain its defense alliances with the US while developing relationships with China, currently its biggest trading partner, and other Asian countries, BBC News reported. 

Asia analysts and diplomats were responsive to the new plan, The Australian reported

"First of all, it's very good and accurate," said Endy Bayuni, a senior editor and foreign policy analyst at the Jakarta Post newspaper. "The report is actually showing Australia as part of Asia, it's comprehensive and it (recognizes) Australia's Indonesia relationship as one of the most important."

"It's a positive foreign policy outlook, and one Gillard will feel more than happy prosecuting as she continues to move away from the confusing statement of priorities about foreign affairs early in her tenure," the Australian's political editor wrote in an editorial about the new plan. 

Australia is already part of 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, Reuters reported, and is also one of 11 countries currently negotiating for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

[View the story "Australia's PM announces new Asia plan" on Storify]

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