Australia’s China ignorance

Find below the Lowy Institute’s new paper on Australia’s China ignorance. Regular readers will know that this is one of my hobby horses. Bravo to the Lowy Institute for bringing attention to this issue.

Australia’s political relationship with China is far less developed than its economic relationship. In Australia-China ties: in search of political trust, Linda Jakobson argues that this is detrimental to Australia’s interests because China is not merely an economic power but also a crucial political and security actor in the region. Underdeveloped political and strategic relations between Canberra and Beijing weaken Australia’s ability to exert influence regionally. Australia risks being viewed by China’s leaders merely as a provider of resources. Moreover, there is a danger that problems in the bilateral relationship will escalate into a crisis due to the lack of familiarity and political trust between key Australian and Chinese decision-makers.

Jakobson recommends that the Australian government take several steps to increase political trust between Canberra and Beijing. Among others, she advocates that Australia should pursue an annual strategic and economic dialogue with China at the Cabinet Minister level. Cabinet Ministers from eight G-20 members already have a regular strategic dialogue with their Chinese counterparts.

    • Australia should pursue an annual strategic and economic dialogue with China at the Cabinet Minister level.
    • When elaborating on Australia’s political and security challenges, political leaders should speak candidly about the uncertainties associated with China’s rise.
    • Ideological differences should not deter Australian officials at all levels from trying to gain a comprehensive understanding of Beijing’s intentions and the thinking of Chinese officials on contentious issues. Understanding is not synonymous with endorsement.

Jakobson Australia China Ties

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. Aristophrenia

    Have not read the report yet HandH, however I entirely agree with the summary points.

    I would go further and say that Australia should declare itself a neutral nation – it should allow Chinese troops into Darwin as much as spy bases in the deserts or neither.

    Australia needs to learn to benefit from its geostratic position and become a powerful world leader – we need to be the most dominant player in the region.

    We are the bookend to the most important region on earth, we are the divider between the two most important oceans going forward.

    We would be on the security council and a world leader faster than you can say Ni Hao !

  2. Nothing much will be done as Canberra fear what the US will say/do. Also, at a time when the US is planning a proper base here other then just a few hundred marines. This all could be sorted out with real diplomacy, but I doubt it will be.

  3. Ironically, the fee paying international education industry, post Colombo Plan, was developed by the Labor govt. to increase services exports (and lower current account deficits), plus help Australia engage more with Asia and China.

    However, in recent years it has become “political roadkill” playing to Australian xenophobia in MSM, politics and society….. it’s ok to sell commodities, but according to political parties’ rhetoric we do not want social interaction……

  4. This report is naive in its conclusions. Australian military officers should learn Mandarin? What a joke! This report shows a complete misunderstanding of China. The Chinese will never consider Australia a significant player in the region without the strong military backing of the US. Australia is simply a weak country of 20 million sitting on top of China’s resources and nothing more. Similar to the US relationship with Saudi Arabia. Realpolitic is not just a good description of Chinese politics, it is a good description of Chinese culture and relationships with others. The Chinese value and respect power. All the relationship building in the world will not change this. If you want to be respected by China, put 50,000 US Troops in Darwin.

  5. An American citizen of Chinese origin would never be treated the same way as Australian Chinese are in China. The Stern Hu affair is a disgrace to Australia. This doesn’t show a lack of understanding and communication between the two countries – it shows complete disrespect of Australia by China.