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.
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 aged 35 or under 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.
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 the People’s Republic of 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. China Matters does not have an institutional view.
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 WeChat?’ by Prof Wanning Sun. 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
China Matters has mobilised a diverse group of Australian policy thinkers to formulate a ‘new’ China narrative for the incoming Australian government.
China Matters launched the next-to-final draft of A new China narrative for Australia at a packed event at the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra on 26 March 2019. Ms Linda Jakobson, Founding Director, is the draft’s principal contributor. Other contributors are China Matters Board Directors: Prof Stephen FitzGerald AO, Prof Allan Gyngell AO, Mr Andrew Parker and Prof Michael Wesley; and a China Matters team member, Policy Analyst Mr Jackson Kwok.
Panellists at the Canberra launch were Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin AC (Ret’d); The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Member for Curtin; Mr Jason Yat-sen Li of Vantage Asia Holdings. See more about the event here.
The launch begins a six-week long review process during which we solicit comments on the draft from specialists and the Australian public. The final version of A new China narrative for Australia will be presented to the new Australian government. Please send your comments to [email protected]
In the latest edition of our policy brief series China Matters Explores, Prof Wanning Sun says the Chinese social media platform is problematic in Australia because it relies on only partially encrypted messaging. But she also debunks many of the myths and misunderstandings underlying one of the fastest growing social media apps in the world.
Sun points out there is much speculation about WeChat’s susceptibility to security risks, PRC government surveillance, and political interference in Australia. She divides the various suspicions into misconceptions and legitimate risks. The author also assesses the challenges and opportunities associated with WeChat and the political process in Australia.
The policy brief culminates in several policy recommendations. Sun urges Australian media to employ more Chinese-speaking journalists so they can interact with and report on WeChat; the publication of government research, if there is any, into WeChat’s encryption safety; and provision of education to public servants on WeChat best practices, to enhance its use for public diplomacy.
Wanning Sun FAHA is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.
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 the PRC’s rise in one way or another. The meeting strives to discuss controversial but prominent issues and from these discussions formulate policy recommendations to put forward to Australian business and government.
The two panel sessions from our last national meeting focused on:
- How should Australia respond to growing nationalism in the PRC?
- How can the Australian economy become less dependent on the PRC?
The meetings are a fantastic way for young professionals to contribute to the Australia-China discussion, learn from high-level individuals from a wide variety of fields, and be part of an ongoing community of future leaders.
China Matters is Hiring!
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.