The Lowest Ebb: The Fall and Fall of the Australia-China Relationship

Date: 29 Oct 2019
Location: La Trobe University City Campus, Room 2.16, Level 2, 360 Collins Street, Melbourne

Photo: La Trobe University China Studies Research Centre

Arguably, the Australia-China relationship has reached its lowest point in the past 47 years of Australia’s diplomatic relations with China. An Australian Prime Minister has not visited China since 2016, and then that was only for a multilateral APEC meeting. The last visit by a Chinese leader to Australia was in 2015. Previously, both governments were committed to annual high-level visits. In a system that is hierarchical and where all direction in foreign relations comes from the very top, this damages Australia’s interests. Apart from what it might cost Australia economically, Australia now has no voice in Beijing when it comes to issues such as regional peace and security, our concerns over Hong Kong, and human rights. This Oration considers how did things come to this and what can be done to position ourselves more effectively.

Speaker: Dr. Geoff Raby AO

Dr. Geoff Raby was Australia’s Ambassador to China from 2007 to 2011. Dr Raby also served as Australia’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and to APEC.

Following completion of his Ambassadorial term to China, after 27 years in the public service, mostly with DFAT, he resigned to establish Geoff Raby and Associates Ltd a Beijing-based business and strategic advisory consultancy.

Dr. Raby is also a non-executive, independent director of ASX-listed companies Yancoal (YAL) and OceanaGold (OGC). He has previously been an independent non-executive director Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), iSentia (ISD) and Chairman of SmartTrans(SMA). He is Co-Chair of Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s China practice.

Dr. Raby is a member of the non-for-profit Advance Global Advisory Board, University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre Advisory Board, and the La Trobe Asia Advisory Board. He is also a distinguished alumni of La Trobe University.

In 2019 Dr. Raby was awarded an Order of Australia in the Queens Birthday honours for distinguished service to Australia-China relations through senior diplomatic roles, and to multilateral trade policy development.

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