Australia's relations with China: What's the problem? Current Issues Brief 23 1996-97. Dr Stephen Sherlock, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
Foreign relations exist between Australia and China. The first Chinese consulate in Australia was established in 1909, and diplomatic relations were established in 1941. Australia continued to recognise the Republic of China (ROC) government after it lost the Chinese Civil War and retreated to Taiwan in 1949, but switched recognition to the People's Republic of China (PRC) on 21 December 1972. The relationship between China and Australia has grown considerably over the years. Both countries are actively engaged economically, culturally and politically which spans numerous organisations such as APEC, East Asia Summit and the G20. China is Australia's largest trading partner, and has invested in Australian mining companies.
Relations between the two countries began to deteriorate in 2018 due to growing concerns of Chinese political influence in various sectors of Australian society including the Government, universities and media as well as China's stance on the South China Sea dispute. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated issues and tensions between the countries, especially after Australia called for an international, independent inquiry into the origins of the disease. The subsequent changes that China made to its trade policies have been interpreted as political retaliation and economic coercion against Australia.
In August 2021, Australia announced a long-range plan to purchase a fleet of powerful American nuclear submarines. Although China was not specifically mentioned in the news announcements, critics interpreted it as a major blow to Australian-Chinese relationship, by firmly allying Australia with the United States in military terms in the region. China was additionally critical of the formation of AUKUS in September 2021, a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom for the Indo-Pacific region.