aaron duff by ywp5Yn


									   About the Author and this Submission:

This submission is a collection of my current views and recommendations of how Australia should
manage its education relationship with China and the North Korean situation. This being the case,
I ask the reader to consider my background so as to render this submission and its contents in an
appropriate context.

My name is Aaron Duff. I am a 30 year old South Australian with a BA in Asian Studies and 5
years experience working in China; primarily in Shanghai and my wife’s hometown of Dandong,
which is most well-known for being China’s primary connection point with North Korea. I am
fluent in spoken and written Chinese and also a student of Korean. My future goal is to use my
English, Chinese and Korean language skills to help bring about change in China and especially in
North Korea for when the country inevitably opens up one day.

I have worked for the Government of South Australia’s China Representative Office, travelling
China-wide in facilitating growth and development in the China-Australia relationship in the
fields of inward investment (to Australia), education, services and state-to-province diplomacy.
Through this and my experience in organising training programs for Chinese government officials,
I have been fortunate to meet with a number of China’s political and business leaders that have
helped shaped my current views. Separate to this, since 2003 I have worked in numerous sectors
of the ‘China education industry’, facilitating the introduction of many Western teaching
techniques and ideologies to Chinese universities, schools and government education
departments. I presently manage the business growth and development of China’s leading
Chinese language school and through this help to bring together as many as 2,000 foreigners a
year to learn Chinese and understand Chinese culture.

As the father of 2 Australian-Chinese children, Australia’s relationship with China and to a lesser
extent Korea by way of regional proximity, is of significant importance to me. I trust that my
submission can add value and contribute to a stronger, better defined and well-planned
relationship between Australia and its Asian neighbours.

Format of Submission:
I have chosen the discussion points regarding China & Korea from the ‘Issues Paper’ that I feel I
am most qualified to individually comment upon and share my insight. For both China & Korea, I
have followed my response with an outline of opportunities for Australia.

For comments or further follow-up. I am contactable at: theduffsta@yahoo.com.au

I apologise for the rushed nature of this submission.

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Over the past 10+ years, Australia has had a very good relationship with China in regards to the
number of international students coming to study in Australia, the number of joint university
linkages and Australia was fortunate to have a reputation as a convenient, affordable provider of
quality education.

At risk of repeating some of the points raised in the warmly welcomed Knight Review, until
recently, China and Australia seemed to be a perfect match in that with a culture looking for
education excellence, many Chinese parents were actively seeing Australia as their first choice
destination to send their only child for secondary or more commonly tertiary studies. Now with
the recent relaxing of US and UK visa regulations and the strength of the Australian dollar,
Australia has to look at new, innovative ways to reclaim its place in the hearts of the Chinese for
international education.

The one clear, defining factor in all of the points I raised above is that until now, Australia has
been too reliant on one way educational exchange. There was an expectation that Chinese
students will come to our doorstep by themselves and there have been very few people aside from
Chinese agencies and Australian university/school representatives that flew the Australian flag
and even then based on their own narrow, competing interests. These days many of Australia’s
traditional best agencies in China (i.e. IDP, Shineway, Eduglobal, Aoji etc.) have made substantial
internal shifts away from the Australian market to the American market and others.

Opportunities for Australia:
Despite the gloomy outlook painted above, the opportunities for Australia are huge in China,
providing we are not late to the party. The fundamentals of the Chinese market have not changed;
i.e. there is a growing middle class who see overseas education and work experience for their only
child as the key to unlock prosperity and status for the family’s future. Also, this middle class is
growing in the second and third tier cities where people are crying out for top quality education at
all levels – kindergarten to postgraduate and everything in-between (English, vocational training

How to make the most of these opportunities:
Australia is no longer the first destination for cheap, quality education – it simply is not cheap
anymore. AEI and Austrade are working on rebranding Australia more as a career destination. I
do not want to say too much about this as this rebranding is only just starting now, but I think it is
worth ‘giving it a go’. Of course, we do need to be careful in ensuring that Australia can and will
back up this claim and can provide the job environment that was sold to the Chinese students.

There is so much more that can be done in China then just receiving their cashed-up students in
Australian schools and universities. Even the 2+2 model was designed as a way to ultimately get
Chinese students studying in Australia for the final 2 years of their degree.

Let’s analyse some alternative options and contrast how Australia is going compared to our US,
UK and other international competitors:
1. Kindergartens, schools, colleges & universities in China.
    As far as I know there is 1 Australian owned kindergarten in China, a dozen private
    primary/high schools – all of which are joint partnerships with local Chinese partners and
    zero Australian universities.

    Compare this to 20+ independent international schools in Shanghai alone; the majority being
    British or American, but representation including Singapore, Japan, Korea, Netherlands,
    Germany, France and more.

    In the university sector there have been recent campuses set up for New York University, Hult
    Business School and numerous other joint-partnership campuses with local universities from

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   US and UK universities.
2. English institutions in China
   Despite the huge market, I am unaware of any Australian English school chains. The big
   names are mostly from the USA – i.e. Wall Street, EF, Disney English etc.

3. Examination systems
   Australia’s separate education systems for each state means there is no recognizable
   examination system for schooling. The big names again are from the UK (i.e. A-Levels) and

The 2nd and 3rd tier cities are crying out for better quality education and the governments are
doing what they can to entice these international schools to their jurisdiction. For example there
is a yet to be announced, brand new international boarding school with English ownership being
built in Changzhou – a city of 4.5million. Furthermore, this is in the yet to be completed new
economic development zone.

A number of Australian states already have schools that use their curriculum (especially the
senior high school curriculum) with Victoria leading the way in that regard. Coming from South
Australia I know there are just 2 schools running the SA curriculum (in Ningbo and Changzhou).
I feel the question is more about a lack of resources or commitment from the Australian side. It is
too difficult to find long-term, qualified teachers and management for those types of schools and
Australia presently cannot keep up with the demand.

This leads me to my second point which is that we must educate our population better about
China and with more Chinese language training.

I have heard from an unconfirmed source that just 5% of Australian schools offer Mandarin
Chinese as a second language. Also, there are only a dozen or so Monday-to-Friday schools
Australia-wide that offered bilingual instruction in English and Mandarin. Aside from the fact
that many Australians are ignorant of China and its language and culture, the other point to
reason is that this fact makes attracting the best of China’s new business migrants to Australia an
even tougher proposition.

There needs to be more 2 way exchange between Australia and China. For every 100 Chinese
students that come to Australia to study, I am very sure that there would be less than 1 Australian
who goes to China for the purpose of study. In the bigger picture looking at Australia’s general
relationship with China, I do not think the current arrangement is healthy or in Australia’s best
interest. If the status quo is maintained then I feel that Australia is at a risk of isolating itself from
China and I urge the Australian government to increase its branding and presence in China and
also implement more 2 way exchange to help nullify this risk.

Discussion points on the Republic of Korea
Developments on the Korean Peninsula could have significant strategic implications. What are
the prospects for peace and security on the Peninsula?

My outlook and response is wholely based upon the following assumption; namely that North
Korea cannot remain as closed as it is to the outside world forever. The question is when and in
what way will it open. The death of Kim Jong Il will bring generational change to North Korea as
it did with his father before him. How this change will effect North Korea’s relationship with
South Korea, Australia and the rest of the world remains to be seen. The reason for me in
submitting such a response to this discussion point it that I recommend Australia readies
itself in advance for such an opening.

I feel my optimistic belief that North Korea will open up sooner rather than later is a commonly
shared view, holding ground in the thought that should Kim Jong Un remain in power, and as his
elderly aunt, uncle and other power holders of his father’s generation die out, he shall pursue

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more of an open approach to the rest of the world. My reasons are based on his international
schooling in Europe and supposed enjoyment of Western culture combined with his rushed
ascension/ change-over to power.

Another cause for my optimism is North Korea’s recent efforts to introduce some aspects of
change to their society based in a model similar to China’s 30 years ago. Although much of what
Kim Jong Il told Beijing on his 2010 and 2011 visits regarding his admiration for China’s
economic development model may just have been lip service to his hosts, there still has been a
visible change in North Korea with the establishment of Special Economic Zones. It is worthwhile
to note the parallels with China under Deng Xiaoping, with the establishment of fast food outlets,
introduction of a mobile phone network as well as specific Trade Zones and partnerships with
China. Also there seems to be a small ideological shift starting in North Korea with internal
propaganda references in seeming contradiction to its ‘Juche’ self-reliance policy i.e. “Based our
Local Situation – Look to the World”.

Should North Korea open up, then it would only be a matter of time before the 2 Koreas begin to
collaborate more together. Due to the unique and complicated nature of the South & North’s
relationship I do not feel that Australia can do much in getting involved directly in this matter.
However this does not mean we should closely monitor the situation. Should the 2 Koreas decide
to reunify then due to the incredible cost1 (recent estimate at anywhere between US$50billion to
1.5 trillion) and major infrastructure issues involved there will be significant opportunities for
well-placed Australian companies for both trade and services. On the services end we are at an
advantage not just physically (i.e. timezone) but also in that I feel it will be easier for us to build
trust as a responsible partner in that we are a developed English speaking, regional neighbour
that has not stayed notionally tied down in their history (despite our involvement in the Korean
War) like America is.

Opportunities for Australia:

Right now, the only North Korean companies that are allowed to trade internationally are those
that are Government-owned and controlled. There is much risk in dealing with these companies
both in terms of ‘making a profit’, but also diplomatically as it can be easily and probably correctly
assumed that such trade is propping up ‘the regime’. This being the case, I recommend that
Australia use other channels to pre-initiate a relationship with North Korea, channels that
advocate a more long-term approach for a long-term goal; winning North Korea’s hearts and
minds. The ideology being that once North Korea opens up, Australia shall be more
knowledgeable of North Korea’s environment, business opportunities and business/government
networks and therefore an easier task in doing business.

I feel one of the best ways to do this is through educational ties. Australia should do all it can to
invite North Koreans to study in Australian schools and universities and create study tours for its
businessmen. We have an advantage with our world class education system, English speaking
background that would attract North Korea. We already have done similar programs with China,
The Philippines and other such countries through both Ausaid and commercial or
government-to-government relationships.

On the other side, Australia could do more in establishing educational partnerships/initiatives
inside of North Korea. For example, China has its Confucius Institute in Pyongyang and both
France and Germany have been trying to get similar initiatives off the ground in North Korea.
Australia should attempt for an ‘Australia English Centre’ or similar. One other case study
Australia could learn a lot from is Pyongyang University of Science & Technology (PUST)2; a
private university established through international partnership. It is unabashedly an experiment
designed to both train North Koreans in technical skills (i.e. engineering, ICT, Agriculture,
Industry & Management) and at the same time give cultural awareness training to the graduates. I

1   http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/269652/20111219/kim-jong-il-dies-price-korean-reunification.htm
2   http://pust.kr/

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feel if Australia could get involved or do something similar independent of this, it would be a
fantastic way to grow our ‘soft power’.

One other opportunity that awaits is tourism. One needs to remember that North Korea is largely
undeveloped and set aside from the outside world. In this way, the land has maintained much of
its natural, untouched beauty in both its people and culture. i.e. the place could become a major
location for tourism and natural parks. At the same time I cannot pretend at this stage to know
how such an opportunity could be exploited to the benefit of North Korea or Australia.

It goes without saying that North Korea will also be a new, untapped source of labour capital.
Should North Korea follow the economic models of Japan, Korea, China and the Asian tigers then
moving to an economy based primarily on labour is an obvious, evolutionary step in North
Korea's development. In my time in Dandong I came across a number of factories operated by
Chinese businessman for North Korean labourers who come across the border with special work
permits to perform industrial labour for rates less than half that of similar Chinese workers in
Dandong (a third tier Chinese city).

How to make the most of these opportunities:
Key to all this change is China. China seems to have a foothold in that no-one else does, from their
Confucius Institute in Pyongyang to the hundreds of millions of RMB being spent on border
projects and 2 new bridges to North Korea.

As the Guardian recently reported, "North Korean dependency on China is already stark: China
provides 90% of the investment and accounts for 80% of North Korea's trade. China is building
power plants, roads and transport infrastructure, Chinese businesses have invested in factories
in North Korea's economic development zones, and exports of iron ore and coal to China from
North Korea are important earners.”3

When talking about China’s trade and business relationship with North Korea, there are 2 main
locations to keep in mind.

The first is the Yanban Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin province where a number of ethnic
Korean Chinese nationals live. While indeed there is a strong historical and cultural connection
between Yanbian and North Korea, there remains less of an investment business environment or
foreign interaction there. Proof of this is the Greater Tumen Initiative (a UN Development Group)
that was set up in its previous incarnation in 1991 and which is yet to see any real results, despite
the international cooperation involvement of China, Russia, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea
in part due to DPRK leaving in 1999.4

The second and I think much more substantial China-North Korea link/development zone is the
area immediately surrounding the city of Dandong in Liaoning Province. Both historically 5 and at
present, Dandong has been a major conduit of trade and business between China and North
Korea and with the major rail line and road connecting the city of Dandong to Sinijiu and the port
of Donggang just to Dandong’s south, some people have estimated that as much as 60-84% of
China’s exports to North Korea go through this channel. 678

This trade is growing at an impressive rate too and the products range from locally produced
fruit9 to electronic products. This is only going to increase further with a new bridge being built
to connect the brand new Dandong New Economic Zone to Sinijiu (a North Korean trial economic

3   http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/19/kim-jong-un-north-korea-china
4   http://www.tumenprogramme.org/index.php?id=129
5   http://www.china-customs.com/customs/data/5007.htm
6   http://www.extrade.net/www-dandongxpat-com.html
7   http://www.tumenprogramme.org/news.php?id=1157
8   http://english.dandongport.com/2012/01/16/3402.shtml
9   http://china.donga.com/gb/srv/service.php3?biid=2012020748578

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zone). Furthermore, it is reported that North Korea is improving its national infrastructure with a
direct transport link between Pyongyang and Sinijiu 10 to take advantage of this new bridge.

I have visited the Dandong New Economic Zone myself and while it remains quite empty, it is in a
state of constant construction, all the main infrastructure is in place. Significantly everything
looks very modern and built for the future, furthermore the local government and Dandong’s
most famous school has moved to the new zone and I’m sure that the area will grow rapidly as the
old Dandong city is severely restricted by the river and mountains to expand much further.

A third alternative way to ‘get into North Korea’ is through the overseas North Korean
communities in China (specifically Beijing) and Japan. These channels generally are made up of
people loyal to North Korea, but they are well-connected and with their international experience I
feel will be key to driving North Korean international trade in the future. Connecting with these
individuals will take time and may possess some risk at a national security level, but I feel once in
the community it will be very easy to take advantage of the close-knit network.

It is glaringly obvious that I have not mentioned South Korea as a ‘fourth way’ for Australia to
prepare for North Korea engagement. This is because a: I am not familiar or knowledgeable with
current efforts in this regard and secondly I think the relationship the South has with the North is
complicated enough for Australia to get too directly involved.

What to Do Now:
Australia needs to be well researched in North Korea and understand and then try and improve
the standpoint(s) of North Koreans towards Australia. In my dealings when talking with North
Koreans is that the people are very apprehensive or even visibly fearful in talking to white people.
I find it firstly helps for me to identify as being non-American. Then simple things like our koalas
and kangaroos can take much of the fear away showing them we are friendly people. One must
also be very careful in language and terminology that can create trouble in that the use of
‘incorrect’ terminology can show an unintentional political representation – i.e. there is no such
thing as ‘North Korea’ or ‘South Korea’ to a North Korean’ and the name of the Korean language
goes by different names in the North & South etc.

Provide prompt aid support and offers of assistance to North Korea in the case of natural
disasters that happen on a more frequent basis than the rest of the world. If at all possible, the aid
should be given in a way that can identify it is Australia who gave it, in the case it isn’t possible,
then the aid should be given regardless.

Be Politically Savvy:
Maintain clear distance from US’s agenda in the region. Leave it to the US to maintain their
troops in South Korea – DO NOT ever consider adding Australian troops or get involved in too
direct military maneuvers with the South. Indeed, if I could, I would suggest that the USA begin at
the very least a symbolic withdrawal of troops off the Korean peninsula (or remove the troops
from such prominent locations). It has been so many years since the Korean War and their troops
are still there! This is resented deeply by North Koreans who feel USA is corrupting their South
Korean brothers. Also I know myself some South Koreans who also don’t like it. For political
stability, it is important to keep South Korea feeling safe, but having troops stationed there may
not be the best way.

Support South Korea:
Support South Korea as much as possible, especially economic, cultural and education ties, but do
it not in the spotlight and stay clear of public military cooperation. However, Australia’s strategy
for reunification should be done completely separate to that of South Korea

10   http://www.nkeconwatch.com/2010/08/08/whats-new-in-sinuiju/

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Monitor the Situation and Be Ready to Act on New Developments:
Maintain basic information channels with North Korea related development projects such as
Tumen, UN Development Group etc.

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