EVENT RECAP: Forecast Asia Boardroom Briefing with Dr Geoff Raby

Writing a positive new narrative with China

Dr Geoff Raby’s briefing, held on the 25th of August at Ernst and Young, explored the ‘Great Transition’ of China’s economy, politics and foreign policy under President Xi Jinping. As former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affair, former Ambassador to China and Chairman and CEO of Beijing-based Geoff Raby and Associates, Dr. Raby provided a unique insight into Australia’s largest trade partner.

Beginning with an economic update, Dr. Raby outlined the trend toward consumption-based growth as China rebalances and restructures its economy, with the services sector now accounting for over half of GDP. The ceiling on productivity growth was also canvassed as an issue for the Government's growth target and a potential trigger for growing government investment.

Turning to China’s political transition, Dr. Raby outlined the history of collective leadership and the shift towards a single centre of power. The necessity for Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign was analysed alongside motives such as consolidating the President’s control. At a societal level, Dr. Raby commented that China’s citizens are generally satisfied within the stable, albeit authoritarian regime, noting the tolerance for censorship and the implications this has for the direction of future governance.

Finally on foreign policy, Dr. Raby commented on China’s 'super-power self-consciousness' and its pursuit of international recognition with the shifting balance of power. The US presidential election was also raised, with particular focus on China’s apprehension of being challenged by a more idealist US foreign policy if Clinton is elected. The importance of One Belt, One Road policy was discussed in terms of securing China’s energy and resources in the future.

With the briefing concluded, the open boardroom discussion moved to the issue of Australian Government policy and the need for a positive new narrative on China. This discussion focused on overcoming political populism and cultivating positive interactions for the betterment of business and regional relations.

Prepared by James Levy

This event was run under our Forecast Asia series – presented across the Asia Society’s global network – offers assessments and interpretations of trends and developments in Asia by leading economists, business, political and social thinkers and visionaries.

This event was generously hosted by EY.