China is maintaining rapid economic growth even while entering a period of political uncertainty. Economic growth is making the country a key trading and investment partner for Australia and its success is increasing Beijing confidence in asserting its position in regional and global affairs. The death of Deng Xiaoping will exacerbate divisions within the Party and might see a difficult period of succession.
Major Issues Australia's relations with China are amongst our most important foreign policy issues. China is maintaining rapid economic growth even while entering a period of political uncertainty.
Economic growth is making the country a key trading and investment partner for Australia and its success is increasing Beijing confidence in asserting its position in regional and global affairs.
At the same time, however, the decline of Maoist ideology, the growth of regional and social inequality and the decline of the Communist Party's control over people's daily life is throwing the legitimacy of the Party into question.
The death of Deng Xiaoping will exacerbate divisions within the Party and might see a difficult period of succession. A more aggressive Chinese foreign policy could develop if a disruptive succession led to the emergence of a weak leadership appealing to virulent nationalism to shore up its position, especially in order to win the support of the armed forces.
The Australia-China relationship has traditionally been dominated by global geopolitical and strategic concerns, but since the s the two countries have built up a range of common bilateral and regional interests, including strong economic ties. Nevertheless, as a growing world power, China still views individual bilateral relations in the context of wider global issues.
In particular, Australia's alliance with the US means that Australia's relations with China are directly linked to health of the US-China relationship. The relationship Australias and chinas trade relations essay severely during and Australia's policies on China and the US were subjected to unusual and strident public criticism by the Chinese Government.
Using the metaphors beloved of Chinese commentary, a Chinese publication compared Australia to a bat which gave its allegiance to the mammals when they triumphed, but showed its wings and declared itself a bird when the birds were victorious - in other words Australia was torn between its connections with Asia and its traditional allegiances.
The tensions were reduced by the end of the year, but the issues at stake were an indication of the underlying sensitivities in Australia-China relations which will continue to be a challenge for Australia in the future. A number of actions by the new Australian Government, elected in Marchled China to believe that Australia was changing its China policy to one which was more pro-US and less friendly to China.
Australia's support for the US dispatch of naval forces into the Taiwan Straits in response to Chinese missile tests during the Taiwanese elections was strongly criticised by China. China began to react with increased sensitivity to any official Australian dealings with the Taipei government. The Australian Government's abolition of the Development Import Finance Facility DIFF aid scheme was attacked by China as being 'against accepted practice' and may have been seen as supporting US efforts to reduce China's access to concessional development finance.
The increased emphasis on the US-Australia alliance by the Howard government was criticised in the Chinese press as part of US anti-China strategy and as a move away from Australia's previous engagement with Asia.
The visit of the Dalai Lama to Australia was also attacked as hostile to China. Chinese perceptions of how it is regarded in international affairs are still strongly influenced by suspicions that the US harbours a desire to prevent China from taking its place amongst the major players on the world stage.
These feelings came to a head during a number of disputes between China and the US from onwards, including trade issues and China's membership of the World Trade Organisation, human rights, nuclear weapons proliferation and US relations with Taiwan, especially the visit of the Taiwanese President to the US.
Given the key role of the US alliance in Australia's foreign policy, China often interprets Australian actions in the context of US policy objectives. Australia is appreciated for the occasions in the recent and more distant past when it has acted independently of the US, but China remains very sensitive to perceived changes in Australia's policies which suggest a return to policies of the past.
Along with managing a growing Australia-China bilateral relationship, a key challenge for Australian policymakers will be to balance the demands of the Chinese connection while maintaining close ties with the US.
The ambiguous status of the US and Australian relationship with Taiwan will be a continuing issue and the reunification of Hong Kong with China in July has potential for political and economic problems.
China is an emerging great power which has not yet been fully integrated into the established norms and institutions of international relations. Suspicious of US attitudes, China regards any pressure over political and economic reform or over issues such as Taiwan, Hong Kong or Tibet as incursions into Chinese sovereignty.
The problems which plagued Australia-China relations during were an indication of the sensitive nature of the relationship. In particular, Australia's relations with China will be strongly influenced by the course of US-China relations during the second Clinton administration.
Preface - Implications of the Death of Deng Xiaoping This paper was completed just before the announcement of the death of China's 'paramount leader' Deng Xiaoping on 19 February As Deng became increasingly old and fragile in the years before his death, international commentators devoted much discussion to the political implications of the succession from Deng's leadership.
The paper includes a discussion of the growing political uncertainty in China with the decline of the Communist Party's Maoist legitimacy and the Party's loss of direct control over the economy and over people's daily lives, together with problems developing with social and regional disparities and the suppressed popular desire for democratisation.
The death of Deng Xiaoping is discussed as a factor which will contribute to this uncertainty, but the paper argues from the position that his death is unlikely to have an immediate impact on events.
Had Deng's death occurred before the policies of economic openness and liberalisation which he championed from the late s were fully established, elements in the Party still influenced by Maoist economic ideas might have been encouraged to attempt to regain ascendancy.
Equally, had he died before his designated successor, Jiang Zemin, had consolidated his position, Deng's departure from the scene would have been more destabilising. From information currently available, it seems unlikely that Jiang's authority will be challenged in the immediate future and even less likely that there would be any serious discussion of returning to the economic policies of the past.
On the issue of economic policy, Jiang has recently been associated with a 'neo-conservative' approach designed to dampen the effects of popular resentment about corruption, crime, unemployment and the continuing underdevelopment of interior regions.
These negative aspects of the growth of recent years have come to be identified with the freewheeling economic policies of 'Dengism', but it is significant that while attempting to tackle such problems, Jiang's leadership has never suggested that there would be any reversal of the fundamentals of Deng's economic strategy.
Rather there has been an effort largely successful to bring the economy to a 'soft landing' after a period of overheating and the resultant high inflation which eroded many people's incomes.
Beijing has also attempted to direct a portion of new investment into the interior to facilitate more even development. As far as the leadership is concerned, there seems little doubt that Jiang Zemin is in firm control and has strengthened his position in recent years.DFAT provides a range of accurate, up-to-date statistics about Australia’s trade relationship with the rest of the world.
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Overview. Australia-China relations are characterised by strong trade bonds. China is Australia’s largest trading partner, while Australia is a leading source of resources for China.
More recent trends show that Australian exports are now expanding well beyond the resource sector. Australia-China relations Welcome to 'Australia-China Relations' - a web initiative showcasing the diversity and depth of Australia-China ties. We welcome your contributions in the form of stories, multimedia and links to other resources.
Select a country, economy or region to find embassies, country briefs, economic fact sheets, trade agreements, aid programs, information on sanctions and more. International relations Global security. The Australia-China relationship is now stronger and more broadly based than ever before.
The range of issues we need to discuss is correspondingly much wider. From bilateral, to regional, to global.