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. 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 regular 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, ‘What should Australia do about the PRC’s artificial intelligence ambitions?’ by Max Parasol. Previous editions include, ‘Is there a problem with Australia’s China narrative?’, co-authored by board directors, Stephen FitzGerald and Linda Jakobson.
Publication Australian Defence Magazine (ADM) has issued an apology and retraction following a claim it had made that China Matters is on the payroll of the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
In an article on 12 August titled “China documented using Cold War era tactics in Australia”, ADM had claimed that China Matters and a number of other organisations and former politicians associated with them were “effectively on the Chinese payroll”.
The comments were unfounded and absurd in relation to China Matters. We do not receive any money from the PRC Government. Our sources of funding are disclosed in our annual report to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), of which we are a member, and are available at acnc.gov.au.
Following a call from China Matters, ADM removed our name from the article and issued its apology. The apology, published at the bottom of the article, reads:
An earlier version of this article listed China Matters as being on the payroll of the Chinese government. This statement was incorrect and ADM would like to apologise to China Matters for the mistaken inclusion in this context.
The revised article and apology can be read in full here.
In the latest China Matters Explores, Max Parasol writes that Australia must engage the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and other global actors in debates on AI norms and ethics.
There are understandable concerns globally about the potential for the PRC to use AI and emerging technologies coercively, including in its Social Credit System and surveillance efforts within China and overseas.
The PRC’s AI sector is dominated by private firms, many of which have global ambitions. Their technology and the PRC’s data sets have the potential to make huge improvements across areas as diverse as traffic management, self-driving vehicles, pollution control, efficient farming methods and medical diagnostics.
At a global level, Australia must engage in global discussions on AI norms and ethics, including with the PRC. At a bilateral level, Australia should engage with those who shape the debates inside the PRC, such as private companies and academics. In Australia, the Federal government should improve Australia’s overall cyber capabilities.
Max Parasol is a Senior Fellow at Monash University and is finalising his PhD studying the Chinese innovation ecosystem.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 26 June 2019 delivered his first major foreign policy speech since the election. Mr Morrison called for an active Australian foreign policy in a rapidly changing Indo-Pacific. He also reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to further enhancing its relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It is now imperative for the prime minister to home in on the specific challenges in this immensely consequential relationship with the PRC.
China Matters is pleased to publish A New China Narrative for Australia. Written as if it was an address by the Prime Minister of Australia, A New China Narrative for Australia provides a clear and comprehensible storyline that explains why Australia must engage deeply with the PRC, despite our likes and dislikes.
This new narrative sets out a framework to formulate foreign policy that protects and advances Australia’s interests.
The narrative is the outcome of a nationwide public debate and consultations with a diverse group of influential Australians from the public service, business and the university sector. Online comments were solicited for one month following the 26 March 2019 release of a draft of the narrative in Canberra. The final version of A New China Narrative for Australia incorporates comments made at the Canberra event as well as feedback from the public.
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.