Wednesday 22 June 2022 – ACBC Victoria was delighted to host a much-needed discussion in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) supported by the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations on navigating the future Australia-China relationship in the post-election context.
We would like to thank leading academics from the ANU, Anthea Roberts, Darren Lim and Benjamin Herscovitch for their highly-valued insights, and Director at SW Danny Armstrong for moderating the session. We also acknowledge and thank Lou Farinotti and Holding Redlich for providing their CBD offices to host this event.
Involving business, government and academia, this session hosted a frank and analytical discussion of the Australia-China relationship. Drawing on historical context to paint a cohesive picture of the current political relationship, ramifications for business and future scenarios to consider.
Taking a macro focus, the presentations began by defining the triple helix guiding the national interest – prosperity, security and values. A considered discussion was given to the establishment narrative for globalisation, its representation in the media and perception shift in recent years.
Zooming in on the trade aspect of the relationship, the second presentation deconstructed China’s retaliatory trade tariffs on Australian goods and analysed both the perceived and real results for Australian exporters and the Australian economy.
Australia’s relative success at mitigating severe market losses was analysed. Market adjustments and exogenous market shocks (weather, commodity prices) played a major role in conditioning the impact of economic sanctions. Globally competitive industries, open global markets and creative diversification methods (reallocation, transformation, deflection) founded Australia’s economic resilience.
As Beijing seeks greater self-sufficiency in trade categories where its reliance on Australia is significant, collaborative opportunities in green development will serve to benefit both sides and pave the way for a long-term, mutually beneficial trading and investment partnership.
Concluding with a forecast for the future of the political relationship, the final presentation drew upon the recent encouraging developments in the relationship to paint a selection of future scenarios. A pattern of positive messaging from the Chinese Embassy, Premier Li Keqiang’s congratulatory message to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Defence ministers Richard Marles and Wei Fenghe meeting at the Shangrila dialogue and various other ‘thawing’ developments create an air of renewed optimism to the relationship.
This messaging was caveated with the numerous longstanding disagreements on substantive policy questions on investment, human rights, the South China Sea, consular cases and more issues that continue to hamper the relationship.
Additionally, navigating the complex dynamic of US-China competition further complicates Australia’s interaction with our largest trading partner, particularly in the Pacific arena, as symbolised by China’s deepening ties in the region.
Following presentations, speakers answered audience questions from ACBC members, government representatives and our broad network of diverse businesses.
Constructive, open and reassuring dialogues such as these help to nullify the prospects of an escalating conflict impacting economies and livelihoods and will be ever more critical to our future shared prosperity.