SYDNEY, Australia, (AP) – Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch says the ongoing metamorphosis of China and India from historic backwaters into economic powers will help reshape the world in the next few decades.
The News Corp. chief gave an upbeat assessment of the future and made a vigorous case for free markets despite troubled economic times and what he called “naked, heartless aggression” in the world.
In the first of a series of speeches in his birth country of Australia, Murdoch spoke Sunday of “the great transformation we’ve seen in the past few decades, the unleashing of human talent and ability across our world, and the golden age for humankind that I see just around the corner.”
He said China and India are great countries whose people are only recently emerging from long histories of being “incarcerated by communism or caste.” The rise of their economies is creating a new middle class that would be three billion strong within 30 years and that is setting a new benchmark for global competitiveness.
“The world has never seen this kind of advance before,” Murdoch said. “These are people who have known deprivation. These are people who are intent on developing their skills, improving their lives and showing the world what they can do.”
Murdoch, whose New York-based conglomerate includes Twentieth Century Fox, Fox News Channel, Dow Jones & Co. as well as newspaper stables in Australia and Britain and the online networking site MySpace, described the global financial crisis as one of many challenges facing Australia.
He urged Australia to embrace internationalism and touched on a range of global issues, from international security to the commercial opportunities offered by the world’s need for cleaner energy.
Murdoch’s remarks came in the first of six lectures to be sent out on radio nationally by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. — this year’s edition of an annual series of talks by prominent Australians.
Murdoch said that in another speech he would give his opinions on the future of newspapers, which are suffering a severe downturn, especially in the United States, as advertising revenue is lost to the Internet.
He made a strong pitch for freer trade between countries, taking agriculture as an example and saying that reducing artificial barriers is a moral and strategic issue.
“So we must continue to leverage our connections and continue to push when others have left the conference table,” he said. “The global trade dialogue should echo with Australian accents.”
Touching on security, he chided Europe for appearing to have “lost the will to confront aggression” and said NATO should be reformed into a group based on common values, not geography, and include countries like Australia as members.
“In this promising new century, we are still seeing naked, heartless aggression — whether it comes from a terrorist bombing in Islamabad or a Russian invasion of Georgia,” Murdoch said.
“We can lament these developments, but we cannot hide from them,” he said, noting Australia’s contribution of troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.
In an interview published in The Weekend Australian on Saturday, Murdoch said governments have only limited power to fix the financial crisis, though they could make it worse.
Murdoch warned that a rise in protectionism in the United States “could add to all sorts of tensions in the world financial system and the world trading system and eventually all the way down to employment.”