The Political Ties Between China and Australia

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Since the start of the contentious political dialogue between Australia and China, questions have been raised over the strength of the countries’ relationship. However, as tensions continue to rise, Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently responded to China’s grievances by saying, “Australia will always be Australia.” So what does this mean for the future of the two countries?

In this article, we’ll review the current political ties between Australia and China and ask how their relations might look.

Summary of current political ties between China and Australia

China and Australia are neighboring countries in the Western Pacific region that share a direct political relationship. As two permanent United Nations Security Council members, both countries have worked together to foster a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship characterized by mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation.

Today, China is Australia’s largest trading partner. In 2017-18, Australia’s exports to China totaled $129 billion making up over one-third of all goods exports from Australia and consisted mainly of iron ore, coal and natural gas. In the same period, China was also the largest source of imports with imports from China totaling $77 billion. This included consumer goods such as household goods, telecommunications equipment, furniture and textiles.

Regarding diplomatic engagement between China and Australia, both countries have been working to ensure continued good relations through exchanges on foreign policy, human rights concerns and economic development initiatives. These exchanges have seen high-level visits from Australian Prime Ministers and Chinese officials including Premier Li Keqiang who visited Australia for an official visit in April 2018 during which time he met with Prime Minister Turnbull.

The strategic relationship between China and Australia has also been further strengthened through memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on issues such as counter terrorism & cyber safety; education; science & technology cooperation; innovation; health & aged care services; food security & tourism promotion; Antarctic research collaboration; people-to-people links as well as free trade agreements signed in June 2015 that came into effect in December 2015. Both countries are committed to maintaining close ties while addressing differences candidly but constructively to ensure peace and prosperity for people in both countries into the future.

Historical Ties

Australia and China have had a long standing relationship stretching back for decades. In 2020, the two countries further deepened their relationship, with long-time Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, saying that Australia “will always be Australia” in response to China’s grievances against the country.

This statement highlights the long-standing commitment between both countries and the importance of their political ties.

Overview of the historic relationship between China and Australia

The diplomatic relationship between the People’s Republic of China and Australia dates back to 1972. Over the years, China and Australia have exchanged high-level visits with many agreements signed in various fields.

In 2020, China and Australia intensified ties to achieve an “all-round strategic partnership.” The two nations collaborated in multiple arenas such as trade, investment, education, science and technology, tourism, culture and people-to-people exchanges.

Australia is now the 17th largest trading partner of China and the 7th largest export market of China. In 2018-19 a total of $117 billion worth of goods exchanges happens between the two countries—making Australia the sixth source country for all Chinese imports and tenth destination country for all Chinese exports worldwide. The principal Australian exports to China are iron ores (44 percent), coal (20 percent), gold (6 percent) & copper ores & concentrates (5 percent).

China is also one of the leading growth markets for Australian services exports with a value recorded at $11 billion in 2018–19 which includes mainly education related services with travel services being Australia’s second largest service export to china. In 2019 more than 245000 students from Mainland China were studying in Australia, which broadly accounts for about one third of all international students studying in australia. It accounts for nearly 30 per cent of Australia’s total international students population.

The People’s Republic of China is Australia’s second largest source for tourists visits (1.4m visitors)and tourist spend ($13b ). Additionally, there has been significant investment from china especially into resources making it now australia’s fourth-largest source country by cumulative invested capital since 2005.

Throughout 2019 investors from Mainland china remain as important funders in commercial property projects including aged care, office building, shopping centers, hotels etc totalling $3b across australia.

Thus it can be concluded that both nations have forged strong economic partnerships due unequal exchange of resources & services across various sectors ranging from resources to education based services resulting in a prosperous bilateral independent relationship between mainland China & Australia over years.

Impact of World War II on the relationship

The emergence of World War II in the 1930s contributed to bringing Australia and China closer together. At this time, both countries shared a friendly relationship based on their belief in resisting threats from external aggressors. Australia was also sympathetic to China’s struggles against Japanese occupation.

In 1942, a Chinese-Australian Joint Advisory Council was established by both countries to “promote friendly interests and cooperation between them.” To this end, Australia provided natural resources to Chinese war efforts, including aluminum bars and raw cotton. Meanwhile, China provided considerable military assistance, allowing Australian soldiers to be better informed about Japanese war strategies and regional movements.

This mutual assistance saw a continuation of friendly ties between the two nations well beyond World War II’s conclusion in 1945. Diplomatic relations were established in October 1972 when Chinese Foreign Minister Chi Peng Fei visited Canberra and signed the Joint Communiqué on Establishing Diplomatic Relations with Australia. Since then, ties between China and Australia have grown increasingly strong as they seek ways to cooperate through security, trade, technology transfers, and human exchanges.

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Australia ‘will always be Australia,’ PM responds to China grievances

Recent developments between Australia and China have increased tensions this week with both sides making strong statements. In response to China’s grievances, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that “Australia will always be Australia” and that Australia will continue to adhere to its laws and regulations. The statement has implications for the ongoing political ties between the two nations.

Let’s explore further.

Overview of recent political tensions

Recently, relations between China and Australia have become increasingly strained due to several political and economic concerns. These tensions have heightened in the wake of public criticism from both countries over issues such as Xinjiang human rights abuses, cyber-espionage attempts, human trafficking linked to Chinese organized crime groups, security threats posed by the militarization of the South China Sea, and growing trade disputes.

This article provides an overview of recent developments in the political relationship between China and Australia. It analyzes how these events have impacted politics and economics within both nations, assessing key moments such as growing diplomatic tension following the 2017 UN resolution on human rights abuses in Tibet; increased criticism of China’s engagement with Australia’s technology industry following accusations of cyber-espionage; increased scrutiny over Chinese organized crime groups operating in Australia with links to human trafficking; increasing action over military actions within the South China Sea threatening Australian sovereignty; and a series of escalating economic tensions due to trade disputes.

Ultimately this article will illuminate how both countries can work together to better understand differences and help facilitate progress in other areas of mutual interest.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to China’s grievances

In response to China’s grievances with Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement formally expressing his understanding of China’s concerns and insisting that the differences between the two countries should be resolved through dialogue.

In his statement, Morrison also reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to upholding its sovereignty and sovereignty of others and maintaining its alliance with the United States. He further underlined the importance of strengthening Australia’s trade and investment ties with China and reiterated that Australia values its relationship with its long-standing diplomatic partner.

Morrison clearly indicated his country’s stance on tensions in the South China Sea and the importance of nonpartisan or multilateral nonaggression pacts for regional stability. He also reassured Australians about their security stating that Australian forces are ready to protect them in any international or regional conflict which did not directly relate to their nation’s interests. The Prime Minister asserted that his government is ready to resolve any current disputes using positive measures like negotiations and respect for law rather than coercion or threats.

Morrison’s reaction suggests an effort at diplomatic resolution between Beijing and Canberra while maintaining strong allegiance with other international partners like the United States, Japan, and New Zealand. This is in line with some political observers who have suggested that Australia needs to balance satisfying its interests while respecting Chinese sensitivities concerning issues such as national integrity and economic ties between both nations i.e., finding a Goldilocks zone.

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Economic Ties

In recent weeks, one of the most hotly debated topics between China and Australia has been their political and economic ties. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded to China’s grievances by stating that Australia will always be Australia and will not be influenced by external pressure.

As the relationship between the two countries continues to evolve, it is important to examine the economic ties between them.

Overview of China’s investment in Australia

China is Australia’s largest foreign investment source, comprising nearly half of all foreign investment and providing a substantial fraction of the new investment in Australia. China’s state-owned enterprises are playing a significant role in developing some sectors, such as mining and renewable energy, while private Chinese companies dominate others, such as real estate.

Foreign investment from China has been particularly beneficial for Australia’s commodities sector. Several major Chinese investments have been completed in relevant industries such as iron ore and coal mining projects in Western Australia and Queensland. For example, according to recent estimates, more than $10 billion was committed by China to developing large scale iron ore operations over the current decade which will be responsible for close to half of all iron ore production in that time-frame. As a result, Chinese investments have given a much needed boost to the Australian commodities sector enabling them to improve production capacity and connectivity with new markets while simultaneously delivering thousands of jobs and economic revenue benefits in these regions.

Other notable investments across various other industry sectors include:

  • Telecommunications giant Huawei’s $1 billion 10 year research collaboration program with State Governments.
  • Hong Kong based real estate group Far East Consortium’s $800 million property project on Adelaide’s North Terrace.
  • Canadian Power Corp’s $700 million purchase of electricity assets from Macquarie Generation including NSW’s largest power station – Bayswater.
  • Zhejiang Provincial Agency for Investment Promotion’s joint venture with property developer Eve Investments worth over $400 million for a major residential and retail project on Mary Street Brisbane.

Overall, these economic ties are likely to remain strong in years ahead largely due to increasing resource demand from China which should continue to propel bilateral trade relations forward between these two countries and increase foreign investment opportunities.

Impact of economic ties on the relationship

A relationship of economic interdependence has long characterized sino-Australian relations. This has been particularly evident as the economies of both countries have become increasingly linked since Australia recognized the People’s Republic of China in 1972. Developing strong economic ties between the two states has helped foster a strong Australian-Chinese political and cultural relationship.

Australia’s trade with China is now worth around US$130 billion annually, making China Australia’s largest trading partner for goods and services. Annual Australian exports to China are valued at over $63 billion, while imports come to around $67 billion—the majority being minerals and energy products. Additionally, Australia’s investment in China has grown rapidly over the past decade, with estimates suggesting that it was valued at almost US$17 billion in 2018, fueled mainly by business projects such as infrastructure construction, agricultural investments and tourism.

In addition to these notable economic ties, both states are invested in various forums to increase collaboration, including the G20 forum and ASEAN meetings. These lend to an increased level of trust between both nations by fostering interactions that extend outside an economic context. Furthermore, their mutual dependence on each other creates incentives for cooperation on issues like coronavirus recovery, which strengthens a mutually beneficial relationship between them.

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Trade Relations

The trade relations between China and Australia have been turbulent recently, with China voicing grievances about Australian government policies. However, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought to quell the tensions by stating that “Australia will always be Australia” in its decisions.

In this article, we will explore the current tensions between China and Australia and what it could mean for their trade relations.

Overview of trade between China and Australia

China and Australia have close and ever-increasing trade relations. In 2018, China was Australia’s largest trading partner for the sixth consecutive year, with two-way trade totaling more than AU$170 billion (approx. US$120 billion). The total value of exports to China was around AU$101 billion (approx. US$71 billion), while imports from China amounted to around AU$69 billion (approx. US$49 billion). Major Australian exports include iron ore, coal, natural gas and education services. Major Chinese imports include telecommunications equipment, electrical machinery and furniture products.

Trade between the two countries is an important factor in their respective economies and relations are primarily driven by economic benefits. As part of their Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), both countries have committed to reducing trade barriers for goods and services to promote bilateral investment opportunities across a wide range of sectors such as energy resources, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and finance.

The Australian government has also taken specific steps to further deepen their engagement with the region through high-level diplomatic visits; dialogues on policy issues such as climate change; diplomatic approaches towards understanding international security issues; protected importation of food safety standards; collaboration on research projects; human rights issues; increased access to markets through reforms such as the reform package implemented in late 2017 that opened new areas of investment cooperation between China and Australia; building investment linkages under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); broadening access to global economic opportunities through advancing regional integration strategies; institutionalizing regional forums like APEC meetings for dialogue among regional leaders on common interests related to economic growth in a multi-lateral environment; fostering greater people-to-people exchanges programs via student exchanges scholarships like those offered by ASICUDA ; launching partnership programs that create dialogue among communities from both countries including the inception of ‘Sister Cities’ initiatives which involves short term exchange programs for students or business delegations for example between Shanghai & Sydney’s local authorities etc .

Impact of trade relations on the relationship

The growing complexity of the trade relations between China and Australia has had profound implications for both countries. The bilateral relationship between the two nations has continued to evolve since diplomatic ties were established in 1972, with trade central to their co-operation and development.

China’s economic rise compared to Australia’s relative stagnation has significantly shifted the power dynamic between the two countries in favor of China. This shift has added a sense of urgency to improve economic ties and build resilience through a deepened relationship across various domains such as political and security issues, education and culture, people-to-people exchange, energy, agriculture and aquaculture.

The asymmetrical impact of bilateral trade on both parties is complicated to measure due to a lack of consensus over which metrics are most suitable in demonstrating sustainable gains or losses from trading agreements. One example is the close economic ties with China being highlighted as an impetus for Australia’s growth in GDP per capita over recent decades; however there are also concerns that certain restrictions contained within trade relationships have potential negative implications related to wages and job quality. Additionally, researchers have observed that regional shifts caused by trade may vary significantly among stakeholders depending on factors such as location or type of job they occupy.

A notable impact is seen in foreign influence on Australian politics;. At the same time, many view this influence positively due partly contributed by Chinese government’s investments into international aid programs, some view it critically due to perceived attempts from Beijing to influence electoral outcomes via funding towards think tanks and stakeholder groups who support traditional values.

Overall, it can be said that there is a complex set of impacts stemming from trade relations between China and Australia – ranging from economic welfare benefits such as increased jobs & income through uncertain foreign interference attempts – which can create opportunity for further cooperation but also drive political rifts within Australian society if not managed appropriately.


After months of tension, the diplomatic ties between China and Australia look more stable. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to the bilateral relationship and has sent a message that Australia will ‘always be Australia.’

This serves as a reminder that Australia values its sovereignty and will not be intimidated by foreign powers. In the end, both parties now better understand the dynamics between them and the need to work together in the future.

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