In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Dr. Charles Edel joins us to unpack the relationship between Australia and China. Dr. Edel begins by navigating key moments of closeness and tension in the China-Australia relationship. In terms of policies towards China, he highlights the moderate approach of the Australian business community versus the more forward-leaning approach from the Australian government and the public. He notes that when faced with great economic pressure, “Australian businesses were able to diversify and find other markets quickly”. Dr. Edel also examines Australia’s participation in AUKUS and the Quad. He explains that Australia believes it needs to build up power projection capabilities, especially as China increases its presence in the Indo-Pacific. He adds that Australia’s response to Chinese coercion demonstrates to China that not all countries will fold to its pressure. Additionally, he explains that China’s closeness to Russia amid the invasion of Ukraine propels an overarching negative sentiment towards China and prompts the Australian government to consider potential responses if China attacks Taiwan. Lastly, Dr. Edel asserts that despite the current downward trend in China-Australia relations, the relationship will eventually stabilize.
Charles Edel is the inaugural Australia Chair and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He previously taught at the University of Sydney, where he was also a senior fellow at the United States Studies Centre. Prior to that, Dr. Edel was a professor of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College and served on the U.S. secretary of state’s Policy Planning Staff from 2015 to 2017. In that role, he advised the secretary of state on political and security issues in the Indo-Pacific region.