POLICY BRIEFING: What’s next for the Australia-China Relationship?

By Crystal Ji, Asia Society Australia

H.E. Ms Frances Adamson, Australia's Ambassador to China on the Australia-China Relationship

SYDNEY, 2 June 2015, H.E Ms Frances Adamson, Australia’s Ambassador to China, addressed a sizeable audience of Asia Society members at an exclusive policy briefing in Sydney. The comprehensive and wide-ranging talk covered the contours of the current Australia-China relationship, as well as trends that would shape future relations between the two countries.

The briefing highlighted the foundations of the Australia-China relationship and the increasing bilateral engagement in recent years, which has been reflected in the high-level visits between the heads of state of both countries, as well as the establishment of mechanisms and ministerial dialogues to build on existing rapport.  In the area of business, there has been continually growing Chinese foreign direct investment in Australia, as well as many significant new opportunities for Australian businesses brought about by the signing of the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement.  China’s “new normal” of lower, sustained economic growth and growing middle-class consumption also generates more opportunities for Australians in areas such as provision of high quality services.  At the same time, Australia has been working towards creating a more Asia-literate workforce through establishment of schemes such as the New Colombo Plan to encourage Australians to study in Asia, while increasing personal connections are also being formed in areas such as tourism, culture and arts.

However, it was emphasised that Australia requires a broadening, diversifying and deepening of our engagement with China, with potential challenges that will arise needing to be tackled to capitalise on the progress already made. These challenges include China’s “profound transition” as a growing power with great economic strength, bringing with it challenges in managing competition and complexities in the relationships with other countries.  Australia and China share regional interests in pursuing peace and prosperity, and Australia must therefore work with China to ensure that the region evolves consistent with the shared interests of both countries.

The briefing generated thoughtful discussion and raised pertinent questions about the bilateral relationship, informing audiences across a diverse range of fields. 

The event was co-hosted by Stuart Fuller, Global Managin Partner, King & Wood Mallesons and the Hon Warwick Smith AM, Chairman, Asia Society Australia.  The boardroom dinner and policy briefing was generously sponsored by King and Wood Malleson and held in Sydney.

Policy Briefings delivered to our members by senior diplomats, foreign policy experts and practitioners, economists and country experts offer an insider’s perspective on foreign and economic policy issues and relationships which are critically important for Australia.