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 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 research collaboration with the PRC?’ by China Matters Program Director – Policy Research, Dirk van der Kley. Previous editions include, ‘Is there a problem with Australia’s China narrative?’, co-authored by board directors, Stephen FitzGerald and Linda Jakobson.
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.
Australia, like many liberal democracies, is struggling to set boundaries for research collaboration with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), argues Dirk van der Kley in the latest edition of China Matters Explores.
He outlines that the problem is straightforward. Collaboration with the PRC brings access to world class knowledge, advanced technology and much needed sources of funding for research that will do much good. But researchers focused on emerging technology have real concerns their work will end up unwittingly aiding the PRC’s military build-up, or even worse used in nasty human rights abuses occurring in western China.
Van der Kley argues for the establishment of a Critical Centre for Research Collaboration which brings all the relevant arms of government, academia and industry together to tackle this issue in a permanent setting.
Read more about the brief, and his recommendations here.
Dirk van der Kley is the Program Director for Policy Research at China Matters
China Matters does not have an institutional view; the views expressed here are the author’s.
China Matters Founding Director and Deputy Chair, Ms Linda Jakobson, led a delegation of Australian politicians and business executives on a second China Matters ‘PRC Study Tour’ from 23-26 September 2019.
A key objective of China Matters is to help Australian elected officials and business executives better understand the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the complexities of the Australia-China relationship. This study tour is one of many activities China Matters undertakes to fulfil this goal.
Parliamentarians on the second study tour included The Hon Richard Marles MP, Mr Ted O’Brien MP and The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP. They were joined by Mr Kevin McCann AM (China Matters Chair), Mr Brian Pontifex (Chief Advisor, Government Relations, Rio Tinto) and Ms Fiona Simson (President, National Farmers’ Federation)
China Matters covered the travel expenses of the participating parliamentarians.
The participants met with PRC government officials, businesspeople, experts, economists, academics, and university students through informal meetings.
The meetings aimed to give the participants an understanding of the thoughts and aspirations of middle-class PRC citizens, how they view their society, the challenges ahead, and the PRC’s international role.
More details of this study tour, including the itinerary and testimonials of participants, are available 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 Alistair Nicholas.