Australia-PRC economic ties: whither now?
October 22 2020
As Australia’s diplomatic relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) remains locked in a tense standoff with unclear prospects for reconciliation, the economic relationship – which has hitherto served as ballast for the broader bilateral relationship – also finds itself navigating increasingly uncertain waters. The imposition of a series of trade restrictions by the PRC government come amidst an ongoing debate in Australia about its trade exposure to the PRC and a backdrop of record-low levels of PRC investment in Australia. Recently, for example, the Australian Treasurer blocked a proposed $600 million acquisition by Chinese-owned Mengniu Dairy company of the Japanese-owned, Australia-based Lion Dairy and Drinks, the second largest milk processor in Australia, despite the deal having gained approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Will economic complementarities prevail or is mutual trust so damaged that Beijing and Canberra are now agnostic about the direction of economic ties or even supportive of moving towards greater decoupling? What are the prospects of a wider trade and investment war between Australia and the PRC? With a PRC anti-dumping investigation in train, are tariffs on Australian wine almost certain, and are there any areas where Australia will still welcome PRC investment? Do the business sectors in both countries retain any ability to influence government decision-making? Does the COVID-19 pandemic focus policy-maker attention on the much-needed benefits from trade and investment or rather on the risks stemming from interdependence?
The Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI) hosted an online webinar with Dr Diane Hu, Assistant Professor and Deputy Director of the Australian Studies Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University; David Uren, economics writer and former Economics Editor at The Australian; and Dr Jeffrey Wilson, Research Director at the Perth USAsia Centre, moderated by UTS:ACRI Director Professor James Laurenceson, discussing these questions and more.
Time: 12.30pm - 1.30pm AEDT
About the speakers
Diane (Dan) Hu
Dr Diane (Dan) Hu is Assistant Professor and Deputy Director of the Australian Studies Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University and Deputy General Secretary of the Chinese Association for Australian Studies. She is the Deputy Chief Editor of Australia Blue Book, China’s leading annual blue book on Australia, and sits on the editorial board of the International Australian Studies Association (InASA)'s Journal of Australian Studies. She is also an Associate at the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Melbourne. Dr Hu is on the Board of Experts for China's National People's Congress, advising on the English version of laws passed at the national legislature. She has been an active commentator on Australia-China relations.
David Uren is non-resident fellow with the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and a regular contributor to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s website, The Strategist.
He led The Australian’s Canberra economic coverage for 15 years and was the newspaper’s Economics Editor from 2012 to 2018.
He is author of several books, including Takeover, (2016) on Australia’s foreign investment policy and The Kingdom and the Quarry (2012) about the tensions in Australia’s economic relationship with China.
Dr Jeffrey Wilson is an academic, policy analyst and consultant with expertise in the international economic relations of the Asia-Pacific. He has consulted for government and businesses in Australia on trade policy issues, and has contributed to a range of national and international policy dialogues involving the US, China, Korea, Indonesia, India and Australia. He is the author of two books, over two dozen scholarly articles and chapters, and a wide range of policy analyses and reports for both Australian and international audiences. Jeffrey is currently the Head of Research for the Perth USAsia Centre, an independent think-tank dedicated to fostering stronger relations between Australia, the US and the wider Indo-Pacific. He is also a faculty member of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University: one of Australia’s longeststanding and internationally recognised academic research centres on contemporary Asia.