Australia’s China Problem

This video is made possible by Shopify—the
platform behind Wendover and thousands of others’ e-commerce businesses. Among the many former British colonies that
have grown into some of the world’s most developed countries, Australia is unique. Specifically, its economy has developed into
something unlike that of any other, and a big player in the story of that economy is
China… for better or worse. To understand China’s role in Australia
and the problem this poses down under, one has to start in a very different place—the
United States. If it were not for the US, Australia might
not exist. Prior to the American Revolutionary War, Britain
would primarily send their prisoners to the American colonies when sentenced to transportation. Once the colonies became the independent country
of the United States, Britain needed to find a new place to put their convicts and for
that, they chose what is now Sydney. The first fleet of convicts who arrived in
Botany Bay were the origins of what is now the country of Australia, and they might not
have made the long trek to there if not for the founding of the United States. Beyond just this, the history of Australia
and the history of the US are eerily similar and interlinked. The two country’s foundings are offset from
each other by 180 years, but parallel significantly. Australia is almost the exact same size as
the contiguous United States, and even has similar dimensions to the US. Both nations include similarly diverse landscapes
and climates, and both started in the east. They then each expanded west, taking over
indigenous land, largely fueled by the discovery of gold and its subsequent mining. While the scale is obviously quite different,
both nations were quite isolated by distance to the European world, although close to a
number of other European colonies. Both nations started with their small British
populations but then grew primarily through immigration from English-speaking countries,
secondly through immigration from non English-speaking European countries, and thirdly through immigration
from the rest of the world. They even share the same story in the founding
of their capital cities—they each built a planned city in a central location between
their two major population centers as to not favor one over the other. The similarities go on and on, but the point
is that Australia and the US were largely dealt the same cards, but got vastly different
results The US quickly developed into one of the most
politically, economically, and socially powerfully countries on earth with a population well
over 300 million. Australia, however, never grew into more than
a small, regional power, with a small population of just 25 million. Now, Australia is no doubt a highly successful
nation. It’s among the world’s most wealthy countries,
the world’s most developed countries, it has one of the world’s lowest unemployment
rates, one of the world’s lowest poverty rates, and is one of the highest scoring in
the world happiness index. What the country is definitively not, though,
is a superpower. While you can never forget the role of pure
chance, given the similar starting position of both countries, the first thing one has
to look at for a reason behind this is Australia’s geography. Despite their similar sizes, what differentiates
Australia from the US is its desolation. About 35% of the landmass is considered desert,
which generally cannot sustain large population centers. There are of course exceptions to this, most
notably in the Middle East where huge cities such as Dubai, Doha, and Riyadh sprung up
in the middle of deserts, but each of these largely developed as a result of oil booms
in their respective countries. While the deserts of Australia do have oil
deposits, none of these are at a similar scale to those of the Middle East, have not been
significantly exploited, and, in addition, it’s largely Perth, on the western coast,
that has emerged as a hub for oil, rather than an inland city. With limited arable land and a harsh climate,
the inland of Australia just isn’t conducive to most human life. That results in a fairly striking population
density map. Just five major population centers have emerged—Brisbane,
Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. Each of these is directly on the coast. The largest city in Australia that’s not
directly on the coast, in fact, is Canberra—the capital—which has a population of just 400,000
and was a planned city, meaning its development cannot be a perfect indicator for the viability
of inland life in Australia. Even then, it sits a mere 70 miles or 115
kilometers from the coast. If you’re talking about population centers
that are significantly offset from the coast, in the outback, as it’s called, the largest
would probably be Alice Springs—a northern territory town of just 24,000. This desolation can be further exemplified
by the country’s road network. The primary highway linking the population
centers of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide to Perth is just a single, two-lane
road, traversing the southern coast of the country. The same is the case for the Stuart highway
which serves as the primary link from the south coast to the north coast up the center
of the country—it too is just a two-lane road. What this all means is that much of Australia’s
land just doesn’t lend itself to the development of large-scale human settlements, leaving
it fairly empty. Australia’s vastness served a crucial role
in developing it into one of the world’s wealthiest economies, though. The country is now the world’s largest exporter
of minerals. It has huge amounts of coal, iron, lead, diamonds,
gold, uranium, and more, mostly in its vast, open, outback. That means that the primary economic activity
in Australia’s interior is mining, and with natural resources making up a majority of
the country’s exports, it were these minerals that played a major part in growing Australia
into a wealthy economy. They also cemented who Australia’s economic
partners would be. Nearly 30% of Australia’s exports go to
China, primarily driven by China’s significant demand for minerals. China, in fact, in the number one spot, buys
more from Australia than the number two, three, and four countries combined—Japan, the US,
and South Korea. Beyond just Chinese companies buying minerals
from Australian mining companies to use in their factories, there are also sizable amounts
of investment coming in from Chinese companies. Overall, it’s safe to say that the Australian
mining sector would not be what it is without China, but Australia also relies on the billion
people up north to act as customers for another crucial aspect of their economy—education. As strange as it might sound, universities,
which in most cases are non-profits, form a sizable part of the Australian economy as
Australian universities are some of the most successful in the world at attracting international
students. The country is home to about 875,000
international students across all types of schools. Now, of course, remember, the entire population
of Australia is only about 25 million. What that means is that, in the entire country,
1 out of every 28 people are international students. Of these international students, the highest
proportion, by far, are Chinese, at 30%. That represents a quarter of a million Chinese
students studying in Australia. On the flip side, that means that at any given
time, 1 out of every 5,000 Chinese people are studying in Australia. Within universities, Chinese make up 10% of
the average student body, however, considering they tend to cluster together, certain universities
have far higher proportions. At UNSW the proportion is 23%, at the University
of Sydney, it’s 24%, and numbers are similar at other hotspots. All in all, these Chinese students contribute
more than about $10 billion a year to the Australian economy. There are also plenty of other sectors that
play a part of China’s huge economic influence in Australia such as tourism, manufacturing,
services, and more. Given how much the two economies are interlinked,
therefore, as China has risen, so too has Australia. This link to the success of one of the biggest
economic success stories ever has helped Australia earn an impressive record. It has gone 28 years, since 1991, without
a recession. While the rest of world struggled through
the Asian Financial crisis, the collapse of the dot-com bubble, and the Great Recession,
Australia just kept on going with quarter after quarter after quarter of economic growth. By most measures, in modern history, no developed
country has ever gone such a long period without a recession. But this all, of course, has a flip side. Such heavy economic reliance on a country
that politically, Australia doesn’t always agree with is dangerous. An Australian-Chinese trade war would certainly
cause a lot more damage down under than up north. At the same time, there are quite a few efforts
by China to influence Australia. China has made plenty of attempts to tip politics
in the country in their favor. As one, small example, Chinese Communist Party
run or affiliated WeChat accounts, a popular social network in China, released posts critical
and mocking of Australian politician and current prime minister Scott Morrison in the run-up
to the May, 2019 Australian election. Beyond that, the Chinese government has been
known to unofficially sponsor certain pro-China, ethnically-Chinese candidates for various
Australian offices through a variety of methods. In media, China has been known to impart vast
control over Chinese-language outlets in Australia and responds harshly to criticism through
defamation lawsuits and more. On university campuses, the Chinese Communist
Party is known to have vast amounts of influence, with accusations that the government has built
spy networks within Australian universities to monitor Chinese students and their political
views. In one instance, a Chinese student studying
in Brisbane participated in a rally supporting the anti-Beijing protests in Hong Kong, and
days later, the student’s family back in China were visited by the authorities. There is a very clear but unspoken threat
by China to Australia—if you make things difficult for us politically, we’ll make
things difficult for you economically. How things typically work in China is that,
in order to achieve business success, even when running a fully private company, one
needs to be cosy with the Chinese Communist Party that runs the government. Therefore, even if a Chinese company is fully
private, it knows that it needs to act in a way that aligns with China’s politics. Of course, while some of China’s tools of
economic warfare are more traditional, like tariffs, a lot of its influence stems from
the actions of the private sector. Any private Chinese company knows that, if
Australia suddenly took a hard pro Hong Kong independence stance, for example, the CCP
might not be happy about continued business with the country. Australia’s therefore in a tricky spot where
it’s a western country socially and politically, but in many ways, an eastern country economically. As a result, taking a political stance against
any actions by China comes at a much higher cost than that of a less economically linked
country. Australia quite literally cannot afford to
lose China. A trade-war with China on the scale of the
US’ would devastate the Australian economy. China no doubt has done wonders for Australia,
but the point is that too much reliance on any economy, no matter how strong that economy
may be, is a risky strategy. When that strong economy is run by a foreign
government that can adjust its flows in an instant, that’s even riskier. According to one study run by the Reserve
Bank of Australia, if China’s GDP contracted by just 5%, that would result in Australia’s
GDP falling by 2.5%. That is a clear-cut case of economic reliance,
so, if Australia wants to keep up its unprecedented period of economic growth irregardless of
how China’s doing, diversification is crucial. I know a lot of Wendover Productions viewers
are the type of people who already run or would like to run their own businesses, and
one of the fastest growing industries out there is, of course, e-commerce. Traditionally, starting any sort of business
that involves selling physical goods required a ton of work to build out the infrastructure
necessary to do that, there was a huge barrier to entry, but nowadays, it’s super simple,
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100 Responses

  1. Nic says:

    2008 Australian Recession

  2. Max Dalkin says:

    I'm a student at UNSW here in Australia, chinese students really are a massive presence that the uni is reliant on. Particularly in courses like maths or finance it's at least 80% chinese students.

  3. Jakub Antos says:

    Australia is far more remote though. Great Video.

  4. TheFourthWinchester says:

    Its a fact that knowing English is not a prerequisite to gain entry into Australian universities. This is the only reason there is a huge demand. Or the demand would be dead with the frequent gunning down of Indians in Australia. Most Australian classes in higher education are ONLY filled with Chinese and Indians.

  5. Aussie squad plays says:

    I'm Australian and I can say that we do get Fucked over china

  6. Mr Numerobis says:

    There is more similies between canada and australia tbh

  7. Jane LM says:

    The world needs less greed, more courage and faith and a willingness to stand up for what is right,good and true. Freedom has always been worth fighting for and the world should unflinchingly support Hong Kong protesters even if it costs. There is a poem that goes along the lines of : First they came for the …. And I was silent, Then they came for the …. And I was silent …Finally they came for me and there was nobody to speak up for me.

  8. John Taggart says:

    it’s bond-eye, not bond-ee m8

  9. Steven Dong says:

    We want Chinese money but we don't want Chinese influence, what do we do?

    A. We cut off the ties, stop doing business with them, plain and simple.
    B. We continue doing business with them but condemning them for everything they do, because we are greedy bastards.

  10. Alex ander says:

    there is something we need to know , 80% of products on the earth we use are made in China. so wether u like or not, it is the fact.

  11. Jay Philip Williams says:


  12. Heitor Kovalescki says:

    Australia is a pet of China
    And the tendency is to get worse.

  13. Jeff Martens says:

    The crap at the end is entirely off topic.

  14. franksthoughts says:

    Next video: Canada's US problem….much of the country is still stuck using god damn freedom units because of that $$$

  15. YaadmanJ 99 says:

    The united states does this to Latin America & the Caribbean

  16. DEMMERY11 says:

    China didnt have to mock scott Morrison, the whole of Australia already does that. The LIBERAL GOVERNMENT, is joke on it own.

  17. yy rr says:

    Great work, when do we get the China's China problem?

  18. Hong FL says:

    Some of you guys comments so stupid & brainless.

  19. Chinese Nationalist says:

    Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

  20. Telaan Dias says:

    Why did he blur sydney

  21. priceandpride says:

    11:04 Is irregardless still a word?

  22. Vital Ral says:

    Never knew Australia had people there, always thought there were kangaroos only.

  23. Uday Rathod says:

    India's china problem

  24. jason smith says:

    Chinas got Australia by balls.

  25. Commander November says:

    Australia is becoming China's China. And this needs to stop.

  26. Vital Ral says:

    When foreigners own businessses they own the land they own the country. There, Australia becoming Chinese.

  27. Mick says:

    Move to … Youtube is pox!

  28. Drew Tucker says:

    Thank you for not using any cringy Australian stereotypes!

  29. Tian Zhao says:

    Good for China. The West used to bully the Developing World and especially that of China. It's time China fought back.

  30. Tian Zhao says:

    Fuck the West.

  31. Tian Zhao says:

    Fuck Western Imperialism.

  32. Tian Zhao says:

    Fuck Western Hegemony!

  33. Jeremy Fancher says:


  34. Kaiser IV says:

    Australia needs to stand up for itself and not let china control it. Better to die than submit to tyrants.

  35. Remlat Zargonix says:

    Keep in mind, the yank trade war with China was an unnecessary mistake, created by the Orange Goof in the Whitehouse….so, this video's bullshit "about what if there was a trade war between China and Australia…." is absurd; Australians aren't stupid, they wouldn't cut their own throats.

    As for foreign control over a country's sovereignty, maybe the yanks should take a look at the influence Saudi Arabia or Israel has over the USA and then ask themselves "whose country has more foreign meddling in their internal affairs?"

  36. friendlybus1 says:

    The convicts being sent to Australia was not because of the US. It barely had any support in the UK at all, and the promise of flax for building warships was the tipping point for the expedition. The differences between Australia's growth and the US's growth has a two hundred year gap and some forced labour thrown in.

  37. Y2Kvids says:

    Why is Australia called a Western Nation ?

  38. Joel Gibson says:

    You actually said, "irregardless," I cringed so hard upon hearing that.

  39. Kaiden lynch says:

    In australia we have to learn about china for a term in year 7 because of our ties to china, but we get do to watch Mulan . ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  40. robert lamantin says:

    In the similarities between the USA and Australia, you forget to mention both tried to eradicate their native populations, and near succeeded.

  41. Connor says:

    Lmao they misspelled Sydney as "Sidney" then blurred it out

  42. Fierce Firefly says:

    you missed 1/3 of the problems here
    they are buying our farms and exporting the goods out.
    they buying out houses making fake bubble
    they are buying out baby formula milk leaving shops dry

  43. luis fuentes says:

    damn so Australia is China's b-i-t-c_h

  44. Рем Зиновьев says:

    In the electorate where I used to live (in Melbourne) the candidates for both main political parties were Gladys Liu and Jenifer Yang.
    The option is simple, China or China

  45. Zachary Waine says:

    My guy spelt Sydney as Sidney………

  46. Sam K says:

    Thanks for bringing this subject up, but it is not only what you mentioned in the video.
    Thousands of chinese investors are buying up property here, paying way more than what the properties are worth, and sitting on them
    Chinese companies are buying our farms, and massive plots of land as well.

  47. Sgt. Hippie Cat says:

    australia is such a banana republic

  48. Ryan Lee says:

    It's fun to see all these imbeciles argue about politics and history, get a life!

  49. Riot Act says:

    Wendover: @Australia, you gotta diversify your bonds nigga

  50. Harun Anver says:

    A Wendover video that doesn’t have airplanes in it AND isn’t sponsored by skillshare. Crazy times we live in.

  51. ageofbogyo says:

    Student Visa is the easiest to get and there are plenty student Visa fake schools, which pick up money and hardly teach anything, they are immigrants/ workers in reality.
    Australia wont lose China as if you walk around in any of the cities you see mostly chinese people everywhere. It is China's mining/holiday Island.

  52. tomanders1 says:

    Fuck China.

  53. Hayden Dunner says:

    Fuck the CCP!

  54. SONS OF DRAGONS says:

    Every country are welcome to stop doing business with China but you won't because you're morally corrupted and are hyprocrites! Don't bite the hand that feeds you or go hungry doggies lol

  55. Aiden W says:

    Point is China has Australia by the Balls!

  56. Deep State says:

    Ethnic Han is the absolute ruler of Asia & Indo-Pacific. We don't just control Australian economy. The economy of ASEAN region basically developed by ethnic Han. Australia has learn to coexist with ethnic Han.

  57. Daisy the Goth says:

    Why can't all the countries just dogpile on China?

  58. Greg Essex says:

    European settlement did not start in Botany Bay!!!! The "First Fleet" transporting convicts from Britain in 1788 were headed to Botany Bay, took one look and decided to keep going north. The following day they sailed into what is now Sydney Harbour and decided to park up there.

  59. xiang huang says:

    Yes, China learns a lot from the US. If we do not like you, we make it difficult for you to do business. We don't use sanctions because sanctions makes one look like a bully. Other means work better.
    Is that such a surprise for people?

  60. says:

    So when a country cooperate with China Western media just suggests them not to.

  61. Besoninja McBeson says:

    irregardless? 11:05

  62. Charlie Lynch says:

    Naturally, everything has to be associated with the US, oh you're a western country? So like the US right? No, not right, we are a western country, but we are 180 years younger than the US, and as a result, we are a fraction of the size population-wise, politically wise and economically wise so how can you compare the US and Aus as having been dealt the same cards and having different outcomes one for the better and one for the worse, it's like starting monopoly where someone has already bought half the properties i.e definitely not the same cards, and there is a reason Australia is no-where near the size of the US. And it's like trade-wars are the next "big thing", we already got enough big things in Australia, big pineapple, penguin, banana, mosquito, bushranger, sheep, bike etc.etc Why would Australia have any need for a trade war? As you say, if China loses, so do we, so whats a trade-war against them going to do?? It just means we can't speak our moral values to the same extent other western countries can which is no small deal but that's a choice that the mining companies made and it's not like we don't have customers for our endless resources that everyone wants. If worse comes to worst and China blacklists Australia, their city growth will be slowed, Australia is the world leader by far in mineral exports and that is a title that will surely be shocked by China's leaving the table but business will dealt out to other customers like Airbus and their A320 family production slots.

  63. Rian says:

    Australia the land of the convict after all. >>>>>> 0:45

  64. Nishant J says:

    China will rule, Don't worry.

  65. Casey Kuilman says:

    He said 3% of export goes to China, yet the video shows 33%.

    This triggers my ASD to new extends.

  66. SurvivalSquirrel says:

    What about the military of those two countries?

  67. Xtina X says:

    No offense Wendover but you did a poor job at using neutral-based facts to justify obvious bias. You clearly only tell a small part of the story.

  68. Rich Lau says:

    Come on, Australia is a SELLER. Australia should be grateful that there's a BUYER buying, in ever increasing quantity, and consistently for so many years. If not, China has the freedom to simply buy from someone else. The point, cut all the crap, and maintain a good relationship with the buyer.

  69. JishAFish says:

    There are towns in Australia which have so many Chinese people that the locals have changed the names. For example there’s a place called sandy bay which has many Chinese students so people call it sandy Beijing

  70. Stilz Games says:

    Adelaide represent!

  71. I guess im a weeaboo Now先輩 says:

    Thing is tho most of these cunts are rude as hell. No manners no awareness to peoples personal space. I understand cultural difference but if I have to learn about theirs to go there they should do the same here. Honestly this video just made me mad

  72. Greg King says:

    What you have not allowed for is China needs Australia, our exports are greater than many of the other top exporters combined. If the Chinese dont buy off Australia they dont buy off anyone and they need to buy. If they dont buy they dont produce and that effects the chinese economy and the communist party's hold on power

  73. Sir Edgelord the II says:

    aus gov = incompetent corrupt fools. Makes me sick that no one does anything.

  74. AdrianAtGaming says:


  75. chelzmalee says:

    Wendover: Australia exists because of the US
    Australia: OH NO HE DI’ NT

  76. Vincent Lin says:

    Thank you for not including Taiwan within China's borders!

  77. King_German_II : says:


  78. Anzac Dardanelle says:

    All it takes is 1 recession or a stock market crash /Bubble from China and Australia's screwed thats what happens when your Chinas KowTow Bitch depending way too
    much on 1 Country is just really Dumb Australia should be self sufficient but the politicians screwed Australia big time with there behind the door deals with China they the CCP dictate Australian policy now

  79. Fuse_Stxr says:

    Should’ve got a picture of scomo with a beer on his head

  80. Sumod Kulkarni says:

    Folks watching this in Australia: Why that video upside-down, mate?

  81. Hsfjeldnfd Hejfnfdnslcjwk says:

    Australia should build high speed rail

  82. Steven Jordan says:

    were just waiting for the military invasion now

  83. OceanBlue says:

    China’s homogeneity is its strength and America and Australia’s diversity are their weakness!

  84. Steven Jordan says:

    were not happy, politicians are dickheads

  85. Titanity says:

    We don’t care if China mocks our Prime Minister, we mock him as well lmao

  86. Mark Szabo says:

    "Nearly three percent one third (33%) of Australia's exports goes to China"

  87. Buchanan Winchester says:

    I think everyone has a China problem in some form or another

  88. TheLindo98 says:

    You touched on our mineral resources and how they are by far and away the largest export sector in the economy, to the point where not only are we reliant on China, we are also reliant on mined resources, particularly coal and iron ore. My city – Newcastle – is the largest coal export port in the Southern Hemisphere, if not the world.
    With the war on climate change, is there any wonder why our government is reluctant to make a difference?
    If political disagreement with China doesn't kill the economy, it'll be the requirement to follow climate change targets.

  89. Steven Jordan says:

    I love sweet and sour pork , fried rice.

  90. Jon Gandullas says:

    how about "Philippines' China Problem"

  91. Thomas Mortimore says:

    I’m going to Sydney, Melbourne and Alice Springs next year

  92. 0000000 0000000 says:

    Next video: Geography's China problem.

  93. Hououin Kyouma says:

    Australia could be so much more but subsequent governments not willing to push innovation or expand, we are where we are. There is a reason it's called "The Lucky Country", and sadly most people here think it's complimentary when it's meant to be derogatory. We are as good as we are through luck more then governance.

    All that said, Australia is still bloody fantastic. Wouldn't want to bring my kids up anywhere else.

  94. Sam Buydens says:

    Very brave to report on this. Australia needs to decouple from China.

  95. Detham says:

    Wendover are you okay ? You did not mention planes for an entire episode.

  96. Unsung Heroes says:

    Australia : America 2.0

  97. Chris Russell says:

    when china invades…

    we get a rail network that WORKS and uses trains rather than buses.
    we might get some manufacturing and jobs again.
    we might fix up the roads so people can actually get around… screw the greens. if a road is needed, or needs widening…its done. thats it. its done. shut the fuck up.

    we will get dams and irrigation… all those nice flood plains in north queensland, finally put to use like bradfield proposed a freaking CENTURY ago. no more worries about warragamba drying out or inadequate rainfall or water restrictions.

    oh, and with none of this fucked up voting process, we no longer have political parties screw around for 3 years and spend every fourth year advertising and spruicking bullshit just to repeat the process all over again.

    cheap power… we may actually have some coal powered power stations built… and all that coal we have stays here instead of being carted over to china. we migt even get to use our own natural gas instead of shipping it off overseas. hell, we might even get a locally based petrol refinery again!

    solar power farms in the desert, high speed trains between cities instead of being stuck driving 500km at 60km/h…

    bring china on. i look forward to australia finally being governed with a bit of sense for a change.

  98. Andrei Zhuk says:

    China uses political power to influence economy, how dare they!
    Yeah, let's ignore USA and it's multiple sanctions pulled out of arse for most dubious reasons just to help 100% private corporations. Or right up starting wars like it did for United Fruit Company.

  99. Kinav says:

    Yeah China is scary but you ever see an educational youtuber act like "irregardless" is a word?

  100. Jeffery Sta Maria says:

    Never ever trust China

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