Lowy Institute: Australia-China Ties – In Search of Political Trust

COMPELLING READ: A new publication from the Lowy Institute this week examines the uneven development of the Australia-China relationship – that is the gulf between the strong economic relationship and the ever uncertain political relationship. The Lowy article goes so far to say that the current circumstances could undermine political trust and undermine Australia’s role in the region.

Australia’s political relationship with China is far less developed than its economic relationship. Senior Australian and Chinese political leaders do not meet regularly to discuss either regional issues or bilateral problems. This is detrimental to Australia’s interests because China is both an economic power and a crucial political and security actor in the region. Underdeveloped political and strategic relations between Canberra and Beijing weaken Australia’s ability to exert influence regionally. Australia risks being viewed by China’s leaders merely as a provider of resources and – since the decision to base US Marines in Darwin for parts of the year – a junior partner of the United States. Moreover, there is a danger that problems in the bilateral relationship could escalate into a crisis due to the lack of familiarity and political trust between key Australian and Chinese decision-makers.

In closing, the Lowy puts forward ten recommendations which should be read by anyone trying to shape the conversation on Canberra’s engagement with Beijing.


This compelling read was recommended by Jocelyn Chey.


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