Foreign Correspondent: May 18

This week Foreign Correspondent looks at how sustainable China’s growth is and how it could impact on Australia.

Australia has apparently got through the global financial crisis remarkably unscathed compared to the rest of the world – for now.

In large part, that’s for reasons that have less to do with economic management than the bounties of nature. Australia is China’s quarry, and as that nation industrialises at a cracking pace, our raw materials have ensured the money and the good times keep on flowing.

But what happens if China sneezes? Australia will catch more than a cold.

China correspondent Stephen McDonell set out on a journey through China to try to find out just how sustainable the country’s incredible growth – more than 10 percent every year – really is.

Along the way McDonell visits shipyards, prestige real estate developments and an incredible“ghost city” – a whole town in Inner Mongolia built from scratch, complete with theatre, museum and library, and row after row of apartment blocks – almost all of them empty.

“This place is either a bold piece of planning for the future which is yet to reach fruition… or a very large white elephant.” – China correspondent, Stephen McDonell, talking about the ghost city of Kang Ba Shi.

Chinese authorities believe if they build it, people will come.

But Professor Michael Pettis, a former Wall St banker who now teaches at China’s most prestigious university, says the country is far too reliant on foreign consumption. That’s a problem when both Europe and the US are in the financial doldrums – and a danger for Australia.

“The Biggest Domino” airs 8pm Tuesday on ABC1.

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