Why China Matters

China is important to Australia’s future. It is essential for Australia to get its relationship with the People’s Republic of China right. While public discourse in Australia on China is increasingly lively, it is critical to Australia’s future that it be better-informed. Australians know that the PRC is important to Australia, but many do not have a nuanced understanding of the reasons why nor do they fully appreciate the risks and opportunities involved in relations with the PRC.

Our Goals

China Matters was established to stimulate a realistic and nuanced discussion of the PRC among Australian business, government and the security establishment, and advance sound policy.

The goals of this high-profile and high-impact effort are to expand awareness and understanding, inform public and elite opinions, and recommend solid policy in Australia on the complexities, opportunities, and challenges of Australia’s relationship with the PRC.

This is a discrete and unique effort, different from other China undertakings in Australia in that it is independent, is not tied to any institution, and is focused exclusively from a policy perspective on the rise of the People’s Republic of China and how it matters to Australia.

We also think it is important to engage with people interested in the PRC under the age of 35 who are working in the public or private sector. This is achieved through our China Matters Young Professionals project. We also strive to support young aspiring Australian foreign policy experts through our 40-day internship program.

Our Work

China Matters hosts biannual national meetings to bring together a diverse set of senior representatives from government, business and academia. We regularly engage with parliamentary representatives at our China Matters in Parliament forum. Our aim is to formulate recommendations to strengthen Australian policy toward China. Check out our Seventh National Meeting, held in the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House.

China Matters board directors, advisory council and team members regularly publish commentary in Australian media which can be viewed on our public outreach page.

We now have our own policy brief publication China Matters Explores. This series focuses on individual tough issues in Australia’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Check out our latest edition, ‘Is there a problem with Australian media coverage of the PRC?’ by Rowan Callick. Previous editions include, ‘Is there a problem with Australia’s China narrative?’, co-authored by board directors, Stephen FitzGerald and Linda Jakobson.


Recent activities, policy briefs and events

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China Matters has mobilised a diverse group of Australian policy thinkers to formulate a ‘new’ China narrative for the incoming Australian government. The idea emerged following feedback from the China Matters Explores policy brief, ‘Is there a problem with Australia’s China narrative?‘ which China Matters CEO and Founding Director Linda Jakobson co-authored with China Matters board director, Professor Stephen FitzGerald. Rather than find fault and point out current failings, we felt it more prudent to explore what a new China narrative might look like.

China Matters will launch a next-to-final draft of Australia’s New China Narrative at the National Press Club Canberra at lunchtime on 26 March 2019.

Panellists include:

The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Member for Curtin, former Minister for Foreign Affairs

Prof Michael Wesley, Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University (moderator)

More panellists to be announced soon

Register here.

Registration: 11:30am
Panel session: 12:00pm – 1:15pm
Light lunch: 1:15pm – 2:00pm

This launch will begin a two-month long dynamic editing and review process during which we will solicit comment on the draft from specialists and the Australian public. The final version of Australia’s New China Narrative will be presented to the new Australian government.

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The latest edition of our policy brief series China Matters Explores focuses on Australian media coverage of the PRC.

In this latest policy brief, Rowan Callick argues that there are systemic issues that create obstacles to Australian media coverage of the PRC, including a decline in foreign affairs coverage, lack of journalists with China experience, and reluctance on the part of PRC officials to interact with the Australian media. Amidst his several recommendations, Callick encourages the Australia-China council to sponsor in-country Mandarin study for mid-career Australian journalists, a review of the ownership of Chinese-language media in Australia, and for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to better engage with the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help reduce the reticence of PRC officials and business leaders to speak to the Australian media.

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On 8 March 2019 China Matters held its fifth Young Professionals National Meeting in Canberra.

Our Young Professionals national meetings bring together a diverse set of young professionals from government, business and academia, all of whom are affected by China’s rise in one way or another. The meeting strives to discuss controversial but prominent issues and from these discussions our participants will formulate policy recommendations to strengthen Australian policy towards China.

Our Key Supporters

We are grateful to our supporters for making possible the research, publication, and outreach work of China Matters. We would like to do more. If you share our goals and would like to contribute financial support to our project, please contact Linda Jakobson.

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