Thursday 22 Feb 2018 | 04:37 | SYDNEY
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China-Australia Relations

Overview

Australia-China relations are characterised by strong trade bonds. China is Australia’s largest trading partner, while Australia is a leading source of resources for China. More recent trends show that Australian exports are now expanding well beyond the resource sector.

Politically the relationship has had its ups and downs. In recent years there have been concerns over Chinese investment in Australia, Beijing’s establishment of an Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea, and the arrest of ethnically Chinese Australian citizens in China, among others.  But there have also been high points to the political relationship. In 2013, China and Australia agreed to establish a prime-ministerial level dialogue between the two countries, which makes Australia one of only a handful of countries to have such a dialogue.

What the Lowy Institute does

East Asia Program Director Dr Merriden Varrall and others provide regular commentary on Australia-China issues. The Lowy Interpreter also features regular discussions on the bilateral relationship from a wide range of contributors.

Sam Dastyari and Chinese government influence in Australia

Senator Sam Dastyari has found himself back in the spotlight after Australia media outlets reported allegations that Dastyari gave Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo 'counter-surveillance' advice and unearthed the audio from Dastyari's now-infamous media conference last

Academic cooperation with Chinese characteristics

I recently co-convened a small international academic workshop with a Chinese university. Since we wanted to involve quite a few China-based scholars and the topic concerned China, I thought it made perfect sense to hold the workshop in China. A number of scholars from outside China were to attend

No need to self-censor in the face of China

The recent decision by Allen & Unwin to drop Clive Hamilton's book on Chinese influence illustrates that China need not exert much effort in influencing us. We're doing the job ourselves. Hamilton's book Silent Invasion: How China is Turning Australia into a Puppet State was pulled, according

Australia’s oddly absent Belt and Road Strategy

In a recent speech at the University of Adelaide's Confucius Institute, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Frances Adamson tackled the controversial issue of Chinese students in Australia. Her comments were both shrewd and part of a larger pattern of Australian government policy

No, China is not being demonised

It’s difficult to see any future for Australia that does not involve China in a big way, whether it is in trade, services, investment, regional security, cultural exchange, and migration. It follows that ensuring a secure and prosperous future for Australia means getting the relationship with

Resisting China’s magic weapon

In the classic Cold War-era film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, aliens quietly invade earth by replicating the bodies of each human being they encounter. The resulting 'pod people' take on the physical characteristics, memories, and personalities of the humans they replace. In its day, the film was

Empathising with China

The recent presence of a PLA-N auxiliary general intelligence vessel off Queensland has generated some interesting discussions. Euan Graham and James Goldrick are right that the incident undercuts Beijing’s own objections about US close-in surveillance of mainland China. There is no small amount

How China’s media saw Li Keqiang’s Australian visit

On Sunday Chinese Premier Li Keqiang concluded his five-day visit to Australia having signed a slew of bilateral agreements. Li Keqiang last visited Australia in 2009, a year described by former ambassador to China Geoff Raby as ‘our collective annus horribilis’. Eight years ago, few could

Li’s Australia visit: ‘Nothing to be afraid of’

Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at Davos in January presented China as the natural protector of the global order after the abdication of the US from the position. Premier Li Keqiang's four-day visit to Australia (which starts today) will demonstrate that China is still keen on presenting

What to expect from Li Keqiang’s Australia trip

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's week-long visit to Australia (and New Zealand) comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity spurred by US President Donald Trump's disruption of the international relations equilibrium. Li's main objective is promoting trade and investment, particularly through President

Australia must prepare for an Asia without America

Our first thoughts should be for Americans, and the damage that has been done to their institutions, their society and their national self-respect. But there is nothing to say about this American tragedy that has not been said far better by Americans themselves. So let’s leave it at that. Our

Barnaby Joyce's mixed messaging on property rights

There’s been a good deal of mixed messaging coming from Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce recently. This week he made headlines by declaring to an audience (which included the Chinese ambassador) that Labor's policies for insisting on rules concerning vegetation

Australia's FONOP debate: A necessary storm in a teacup

This is a disconcerting period for all those hoping to see more pushback against China's bid for supremacy in the South China Sea, and its pressure tactics towards that end. The US is in the throes of an epochal political convulsion masquerading as a presidential election campaign. Its ability to

On Australian public opinion, Xi gets it wrong

With the G20 leaders' summit in full swing earlier this week, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been meeting with leaders from the UK, India, France and China. Turnbull had much to discuss with Xi Jinping in particular, as The Australian's David Crowe reported: An

Australia cannot afford to spurn its Chinese diaspora

The Australian Financial Review is running an ‘agents of influence’ series, in line with the media’s shift from a focus on Chinese investment to a broader discussion of China’s influence in Australia. One article has cast a shadow over the million-plus ethnic Chinese in

Security shouldn't trump economics on the Ausgrid sale

Security trumps economics, or so the Ausgrid saga seems to have taught us. But maybe this framing is all wrong. Security and economics might be better thought of as being directly connected. If this is so, Australia is in real danger of building a poorer, less secure future through a flawed premise

Why Australia is the canary in the regional coal mine

It has been an interesting few months in Australia-China relations. Following the Ausgrid decision, accusations of drug cheating at the Rio Olympics and the response to the arbitral tribunal decision, Australia has been on receiving end of considerable Chinese chagrin. Whether in the formal

Call for Australia-China treaty to guide foreign investment

Just when Treasurer Scott Morrison will have been hoping to put last week’s surprisingly tough move against two Chinese power industry investors behind him, a major new report has reopened the entire Chinese foreign investment debate. The biggest ever independent study of the future of the

The Global Times and Beijing: A nuanced relationship

How seriously should we take China's Global Times? This always interesting question is particularly pertinent after the nationalist tabloid took aim at Australia on Saturday, referring to Australia as a 'paper cat', and promising revenge for Australia's position on the South China Sea dispute. 

Shaping China’s response to the PCA ruling

China’s national pride as well as its ambitions to exert control over the South China Sea were dealt a heavy blow by the 12 July decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in the case filed by the Philippines. As expected, Beijing firmly rejected the ruling, declaring the award

'The Pivot': Three profound misunderstandings about Asia

I thank Hugh White for his most recent rebuttal, which addresses my response to his book review of The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia. I have known Hugh White since working together in the 1990s, when we labored side-by-side in our respective defense agencies, ironically seeking to

Malcolm Turnbull's foreign policy: The first six months

By Melissa Conley Tyler, national executive director at the Australian Institute of International Affairs and Genevieve Lai, an intern at the AIIA's national office. Right now one of the country's favourite parlour games is to bemoan Malcolm Turnbull's freakish similarity to Tony Abbott.

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