research / ACRI Opinion

'Asia’s electoral year, with China in mind - Experts' views'

August 01 2022

By Elena Collinson

Note: This piece appeared in the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI - Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale)'s publication, 'Asia’s electoral year, with China in mind', as part of a series of expert views on changes and continuities in Asia's politics on August 1 2022.

The new Australian Labor government has adhered to their pre-election undertaking to pursue a more diplomatic approach toward China while continuing the former Morrison government’s policies. Last month, Defence Minister Richard Marles stated that 'in terms of substantive policy, there hasn’t been a change', but 'what has changed is tone.' This is confirmed in the resumption of ministerial dialogue between the two countries and Canberra’s overall modulation of government rhetoric around China, including a refrainment from repeating the previous government’s references to the prospect of war. At the same time, the government continues to insist on the cessation of Beijing’s trade punishment, before the relationship can move forward in any meaningful way. Moreover, it remains committed to defence spending, AUKUS, and the Quad, as well as to maintaining Australia’s position on issues such as the South China Sea and the Belt and Road Initiative. Overall, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has acknowledged the relationship will continue to be a 'problematic' one.

Elena Collinson is a senior researcher at the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney

Authors

Elena Collinson

Senior Project and Research Officer

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