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The positive side to increasing Australian engagement with China is both practical and obvious. China is Australia's largest trading partner, and this increased cultural and political engagement makes obvious economic sense. Furthermore, Chinese form the largest immigrant population in Australia, and cultural understanding between China and Australia helps in the integration of this community into Australian culture. Because China and Australia are both important military powers in the Pacific, close cultural relations can foster the sort of understanding that might forestall or ameliorate regional military conflicts.
While purely cultural links, such as exchanges of students, traveling artistic exhibitions, and sharing linguistic and humanistic scholarship are uniformly positive, there are some potentially problematic areas. First, China has historically not always shown respect for intellectual property rights, and piracy remains an ongoing area of debate. Second, China's human rights record is not particularly good, and the closer the relationship between Australia and China, the greater the chances that Australia will become de facto complicit with those abuses. Finally, a closer relationship between the two countries might lead Australia to be complicit in China's somewhat questionable assertion of military control over the South China Sea.
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