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.


Read ‘A New China Narrative for Australia’ 

Our Goals

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 strive to support young aspiring Australian foreign policy experts through our 24-day Internship program.

Our Work

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, associates 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 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, where Professor Michael Wesley pans his views on ‘What should Australia do about PRC activities in the South Pacific?’. Other policy briefs include ‘What should Australia do about PRC and US climate ambitions?’ by Mr Thom Woodroofe, ‘Why should Australia be concerned about rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait?’ by Ms Linda Jakobson and ‘What should Australia do about its relationship with the PRC? by Mr Dave Sharma MP and Mr Tim Watts MP.

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.


img description Policy Brief

In the latest China Matters Explores, Professor Michael Wesley argues that Australia is right to be concerned about the growing presence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the South Pacific, but its policy response is too transparently focused on countering the PRC. Most Pacific Island leaders refuse to buy in to claims from that the PRC’s growing role represents a threat to the region. Additionally, despite its “Pacific Step-Up”, Australia finds itself with arguably the lowest levels of influence and authority in the South Pacific since the mid-1980s.

To maintain its influence in the region, Wesley notes, Australia must engage genuinely with the most pressing concern of the region, climate change.

Dr Michael Wesley is Deputy Vice-Chancellor International at the University of Melbourne and a Board Director at China Matters.

Read the full brief here.

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

img description Upcoming Event

China Matters is pleased to host “Rethinking China” with Stan Grant on 26 May at the Museum of Sydney.

Our 2021 in-person Sydney Lecture Series: Rethinking China features speakers of diverse expertise and background with the aim to inject breadth and depth into the public discussion about the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Stan, who spent close to a decade reporting from Hong Kong and Beijing, will describe how he sees China, why he sees China the way he does, and on that basis share his thoughts on what Australia’s approach to the PRC should be.

CEO of the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations Michaela Browning will moderate the event.

Drinks and canapés will follow the lecture.

Tickets are limited and registration is essential. Click here to register.

Please note doors will be closed at 6:10pm and entry will not be allowed after that.

For photos and selected comments in English and Chinese from previous lectures see here.


img description In the news

Hugh White, member of the Advisory Council of China Matters, warns if war breaks out between the PRC and the US over Taiwan, Prime Minister Morrison “would face the gravest decisions that any Australian leader has had to make since 1939”.

Nick Bisley, member of the Advisory Council of China Matters, argues Xi Jinping’s Boao Forum speech shows that “the PRC is no longer content with the regional order that was established by the Sino-American rapprochement”.

Geoff Raby, an Associate of China Matters, argues the Five Eyes does not have Australia’s back: “the members of the Five Eyes are busily expanding sales into China of the very things that have been blocked by China’s trade measures against Australia”.

Read these and more op-eds from our supporters circle here.

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

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.

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