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Australia must stay resolute against authoritarian China

By Chris Lewis - posted Thursday, 2 September 2021

The idea that the Chinese Communist Party would soften its ways as the country grew richer and richer was always the stuff of dreamland.

The West helped China become wealthy, notably the 95 million members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and now face the consequences of having to deal with an authoritarian entity which remain strongly mercantile and seeks to dominate the international economy much more than the US ever did.

So how will the situation confronting Australia play out given the rise of the CCP?


Australians are determined.

While they know full well the importance of benefiting from trade and investment to create wealth, most Australians also believe that important democratic principles are worth defending.

This is despite China by 2018 becoming more important than the US to 128 of 190 countries in terms of trade.

Australia is not alone. Its passionate defence of democracy is supported by other more powerful liberal democracies, notably the US and United Kingdom.

Other liberal democracies are less willing to oppose China, including Germany whose close trade and investment ties with China has made it reluctant thus far to criticise the CCP with Beijing even seen as being a partner on issues such as addressing climate change.

Australia will not be like Singapore, the city state that is eager to please both West and the CCP due to its very high reliance upon open trade.


While the Pew survey of 17 advanced economies published in June 2021 shows a strongly unfavourable view towards China and widespread support around the word for the US under Biden, about 64 per cent of Singaporeans had a favourable view of both China and the US. 

Hence, while Singapore recently extended an agreement to allow the US to use Singapore’s military facilities for another 15 years, it also held its first naval drill with China in nearly five years in early 2021.

Many Australians, while recognising that Western global leadership is not perfect, know full well that the CCP is a flawed authoritarian entity that merely promotes its economic interests and opposes important Western values such as individual rights and legal limitations placed on power elites.    

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About the Author

Chris Lewis, who completed a First Class Honours degree and PhD (Commonwealth scholarship) at Monash University, has an interest in all economic, social and environmental issues, but believes that the struggle for the ‘right’ policy mix remains an elusive goal in such a complex and competitive world.

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