SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Australia’s Engagement with China: An Australian Perspective

IMG - Tony Abbot and Xi Jinping
Tony Abbott, AC (former Prime Minister of Australia, 2013-15) and Tom Tugendhat, MP (Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Commons)

Date: 3 September 2020Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 3 September 2020Time: 2:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Annual Lecture

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This lecture will focus on the key drivers behind the relationship between Australia and China.  Mr Abbott will reflect on Australia’s approach to relations with China when he was Prime Minister and shares his insights on what has transformed a relationship that was seen as mutually beneficial, close and symbiotic into one that is marked by considerable tension though still economically close and mutually beneficial.  Did Australia get its policy of positively engaging China right?  Has China changed so much in the last decade that Australia has to adapt and alter its approach to relations with China?  What are the key lessons that can be drawn from Australia’s engagement with China?

About the speakers

Tony Abbott, AC, served as the 28th Prime Minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015, leader of the Liberal Party from 2009 to 2015, and Leader of the Opposition from 2009 to 2013. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Warringah in Australia from 1994 to 2019. Educated at the University of Sydney and the University of Oxford, he worked as a journalist, manager, and political adviser before pursuing a political career in parliament. Before becoming Prime Minister, he had served as Minister for Employment Services, Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, and Minister for Health and Ageing.

In 2014 his government finalised free trade deals with China, Japan and South Korea.

Tom Tugendhat, MP, was elected as Member of Parliament for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling in 2015, and re-elected in 2017 and 2019. He has served in the British Army and has worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In July 2017 he was elected as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Commons, which he is also Chair of in the current Parliament. In 2020 he launched the China Research Group (CRG) with a group of Conservative Party MPs to promote 'debate and fresh thinking' about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. After registering, a separate Zoom registration link will be emailed to you closer to the date of the webinar. Online Registration

* The webinar will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page for those that are unable to participate via Zoom.

IMG - Tony Abbot and Xi Jinping

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Andrew Robb signing the Free Trade Agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Minister for Commerce Gao Hucheng in November 2014. Photo credit: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Source: Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0 AU)

Chair: Professor Steve Tsang (Director, SOAS China Institute)

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

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Sponsor: Worldwide Support for Development (WSD)