ACBC View on recent developments in Australia-China relations

10 Sep 2020

ACBC notes the recent departure of the last two remaining Australians representing Australian media organisations from China. This marks the first time since diplomatic relations began that Australia does not have an official media presence in China.

This development is regrettable as enhancing bilateral communication between our two countries is always a benefit to both Australia and China as we strive to understand more about each other’s culture and way of life.

Not having accredited journalists on the ground in China deprives Australian business of perspectives, particularly when bilateral relations are at such a low ebb. For years, world class Australian journalism has helped to distil evolving China policy, the development of China’s middle class and emerging consumer trends for an Australian audience that craves greater in-country insights about our number one trading partner.

Without information and perspectives about China’s economy, its society and its priorities, it becomes more difficult for Australian business to make informed long-term business decisions around markets and investments.

While we acknowledge the current tensions in the bilateral relationship, we remain positive that the current state of relations is not permanent and that there are inherent bonds, complementarities and opportunities that form the true bedrock of Australia-China relations.

As China stimulates its economy and looks to rebound in the wake of COVID-19, China’s share of Australian exports remains strong.  While not all industries have been so fortunate in their recent economic engagement with China, and much of this growth reflects an increase in commodity exports, it does demonstrate a functional trade relationship that continues despite the political tensions.

As Australia too looks to rebound from an unforgiving 2020, economic engagement with China will play a major role in business getting back on its feet, as it did after the Global Financial Crisis of 2009.

While many foreign correspondents have been forced to leave China in 2020, foreign media in China has long been a sensitive area. The thousands of Australians employed in commercial capacities across China typically do not work in similarly sensitive industries.

For the thousands of Australians who live throughout China, and those who await the opening of China’s borders, ACBC recommends to stay updated through the Australian Government’s official Smart Traveller guidance.

On Thursday September 10, ACBC National President David Olsson was on ABC’s RN Breakfast to discuss bilateral relations and what recent developments mean for Australian business. To listen click here