Australia and China are closely involved in political, economic, and strategic relationships that are especially crucial for Australia and the South Pacific region. China is Australia’s biggest trade partner, with Chinese investment underwriting the resource boom that has dramatically affected the Australian economy and sense of the importance of being part of Asia. A long term American partner in the region, Australia signed a ‘Strategic Partnership’ with China as overseas Chinese students populated the nation’s universities and Australians rushed to learn Mandarin.
But relations between Australia and China are complicated. There is opposition to reliance on exports to China and the expanding Chinese footprint in the country. For a middle power reliant on Chinese trade, Australia is an admirably robust critic of China’s human rights record. China’s growing engagements in the South Pacific, and balancing relationships with Tokyo, Washington and Beijing is tricky, as evidenced by Canberra’s response to China’s ADIZ.
Contributors to this special issue will address all of these issues, in addition to Australia’s relationship with Taiwan. This series of posts will run from Feb 5th. The stellar line-up includes:
Joanne Wallis of the Asia-Pacific Security Program and Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at ANU writing on Australia’s strategic interests in the South Pacific.
Andrew O’Neil, Director of Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University, writing on ‘Middle Power Pushback: Explaining Australia’s China Challenge‘