Why China Matters

China is important to Australia. It is essential for Australia to get its relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) right. China Matters strives to inject alternative views to mainstream public commentary about Australia-China relations, deepen Australia’s understanding of developments in the PRC, and thereby strengthen Australia’s capacity to develop more effective policies toward the PRC.


Read the recent publications of the AIIA China Matters Fellow


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In her first policy research report, China’s Antarctic ambitions and their implications for Australia, Yun Jiang, AIIA China Matters Fellow, looks at concerns that the Antarctic ambitions of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) go beyond just scientific research and fishing. She argues that fears that Beijing wants to exploit Antarctica’s mineral and fossil energy resources, militarise the continent and even make its own territorial claims, are overblown.

While current governance arrangements do cause friction between Beijing and some of the original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty, including Australia, overall the PRC benefits from the system.

Read the report here.

China Matters does not have an institutional view; the views expressed here are the author’s.

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National interest and values are often invoked by governments and commentators to support a particular course of action in foreign policy. But who determines what is in Australia’s national interest and who defines Australian values? What are the underlying tensions between the two concepts? And given the current trajectory of US-China relations is it possible to have a values-based foreign policy in an era of great power competition?

AIIA China Matters Fellow Yun Jiang discussed the role of values in foreign policy at an event hosted by AIIA NSW at the beautiful heritage-listed Glover Cottages in Millers Point, Sydney on Wednesday 23 August.

A summary of the event can be found here.

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Linda Jakobson, China Matters’ Founding Director, on the recent meeting between Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and the PRC’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi: “[Rather than demands, Mr Wang’s remarks were better described as a] statement of atmospherics China hopes to achieve with Australia.”

Read the Australian Financial Review article here.

Linda was also quoted in a recent New York Times article here.

In a recent article in The Wire China on Australia’s iron ore trade with China (read it here), Linda “agrees that [for China] total diversification is impossible..[but] the PRC has been agile and very cleverly focused on reducing dependency on one source, and has successfully diversified in many cases before iron ore.”

Our Goals

China Matters is an Australian policy institute, established in 2014 to inform public and elite opinions and recommend solid Australian policy on the complexities of Australia’s relationship with the PRC. We have done this by publishing policy briefs and reports, promoting opinion pieces; bringing together senior policy makers, business executives and university leaders to contemplate policy recommendations; and offering elected officials an opportunity to learn more about the PRC.

Looking ahead China Matters’ analysis will continue to focus on specific PRC policies and the consequences of China’s rise. The ongoing goal of our public outreach work will be to contribute nuance and realism into discussions about Australia-China relations and inject alternative views into the public narrative about the PRC, which support a pragmatic relationship with the PRC while protecting Australia’s interests.

Investing in the future

Australia needs strong China expertise. Until Covid-19, China Matters ran a unique Young Professionals Program for under 35-year olds, targeting public servants and corporate employees. We also ran a popular Internship Program: a total of 29 young Australians contemplating a career related to international affairs and China received hands-on training and guidance during a 24-day internship in a small vibrant team. Looking ahead we are investing in the future generation of Australian China experts via the AIIA China Matters Fellowship.

Our Work

Our flagship publication,  China Matters Explores, a policy brief series started in 2017, has contributed to the public debate on individual tough issues in Australia’s relationship with the PRC. The recommendations of another impactful China Matters publication, ‘A New China Narrative for Australia’ (2019), are still relevant, despite a deterioration in Australia-China relations. Visit our Analysis & Opinions pages for these publications as well as select opinion pieces by our supporter circle. China Matters does not have an institutional view.

Our in-person lecture series in Sydney: “Rethinking China” features speakers of diverse expertise and background with the aim to inject breadth and depth into the public discussion about the PRC.

Since 2015 China Matters has hosted nine closed-door National Meetings for senior representatives from government, business and academia. At these meetings tough issues related to the PRC have been debated and policy recommendations formulated. Bilateral challenges have also been discussed at 22 China policy dinners, often bringing together a Federal Government department head with senior business executives and university leaders, and at China Matters in Parliament forums for elected officials.

We have also organised two China Study Tours to help elected officials and business leaders better understand the rise of the PRC and the complexities of the Australia-PRC relationship.

Our Key Partners

We are grateful to our partners 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 work, please email us at [email protected].

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