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Australia’s narrative on Beijing’s economic coercion: Context and critique

February 14 2023

A narrative has emerged in Australia since May 2020 that attributes disruption of Australian exports to China to China’s authoritarian political system and presents the local predicament as unsurprising given past attempts by Beijing at economic coercion affecting other countries. Further, the Australian public has been told that strategic friends are rallying to provide a collective defence and these countries too are seeking greater economic distance from China. The strands of this narrative serve to soothe strategic anxieties and deflect attention away from choices made by Canberra. This chapter, however, contends that this narrative is substantially incomplete, misses relevant context and fails to acknowledge evidence that challenges its key claims. Providing a fuller accounting of context and evidence does not serve to deny or legitimise Beijing’s actions. Rather, it serves an accurate assessment of Australia’s predicament, in turn informing policy responses.

Read the book chapter online here.

Note: This book chapter was published in Different Histories, Shared Futures, Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore, pp 65-87.

Author: James Laurenceson, Director, Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney.