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 is an Australian policy institute 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. We achieve this through our China Matters Young Professionals project. We also strive to support young aspiring Australian foreign policy experts through our 40-day Junior Fellowship program.
China Matters hosts regular national meetings and China policy dinners 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 Eighth National Meeting, held at Como House in Melbourne.
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, ‘What should Australia do about PRC development activities in the Pacific?’ by Dr Jennifer Hsu. Other policy briefs include ‘What should Australia do about research collaboration with the PRC?’ by Mr Dirk van der Kley. In June 2019, we published ‘A New China Narrative for Australia’, written by Ms Linda Jakobson. This was the culmination of a six-month process which included several brainstorming sessions with our supporter circle members, an event in Canberra to launch the next-to-final draft of the Narrative, and the soliciting of public commentary online.
Jennifer Hsu argues in the latest China Matters Explores policy brief that Australia should co-operate with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to deliver aid assistance to developing countries in the Pacific, despite Canberra’s concerns that Beijing could use its development aid to try and influence geopolitical outcomes in the region.
Australia sees itself in competition with the PRC in many areas in the Pacific. But the reality remains that PRC lending to the Pacific has decreased significantly in recent years and Australia is still the largest aid donor to the region. Hsu argues that Australia and the PRC can cooperate in areas such as jointly treating non-communicable diseases in the Pacific, even if competition continues in other areas.
Hsu contends that it is in Australia’s interest to ensure Pacific Island economies are affluent and resilient. Collaboration with the PRC is an effective way of achieving that outcome. Hsu recommends that any trilateral co-operation must first be suggested by Pacific countries.
Read more about the brief here.
Dr Jennifer Hsu is a Policy Analyst at China Matters.
China Matters does not have an institutional view; the views expressed here are the author’s.
ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and China Matters jointly hosted an event for 140 guests at the National Press Club in Canberra on 5 December 2019 to launch Dangerous Decade by Professor Brendan Taylor.
After decades of relative stability, the longstanding Taiwan flashpoint looks set to reignite. The implications for Australia are substantial, particularly should crisis tip into full blown conflict. But what, if anything, can Canberra do to head off the coming Taiwan crisis?
Professor Allan Gyngell, Director of the Crawford Australian Leadership Forum and Adjunct Professor, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy; Board Director, China Matters.
Ms Linda Jakobson, Founding Director, China Matters
Professor Hugh White, Professor of Strategic Studies, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU; Advisory Council Member, China Matters
Professor Brendan Taylor, Professor of Strategic Studies and Deputy Director, Coral Bell School; Associate, China Matters
Panel chair: Professor Nick Bisley, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University; Advisory Council Member, China Matters
China Matters held its Eighth National Meeting in Melbourne on 18 October 2019 in partnership with La Trobe University. Senior business executives, government officials and university leaders discussed ways for Australia to respond to a more assertive People’s Republic of China (PRC). Each session ended with one or two policy recommendations for the Australian government.
The four panel sessions focused on:
- Does the security establishment adequately consider Australia’s economic interests with the PRC?
- What are Canberra’s policy options if the PRC decides to punish Australia economically for being too supportive of the US?
- How should Australia deal with PRC-US strategic technological competition?
- What should Australia do?
The Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, delivered the welcoming dinner’s keynote address. Read it here. The dinner was hosted by China Matters Chair, Mr Kevin McCann AM.
Read more about the National Meeting, including discussion papers and the agenda, here.
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 us.