Happy 48th Anniversary-Australia & China Diplomatic Ties

Richard Yuan | 袁祖文 | Chair, Australia-China Entrepreneur Club

Happy 48th Anniversary!

The Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Australia and China


Today, December 21 is an important day for Australia and China to be remembered. 48 years ago, on December 21, 1972, the Chinese and Australian ambassadors to France signed the Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Australia on behalf of their respective governments in Paris.

Prior to this, on July 2, 1971, Mr. Gough Whitlam, known as the "Father of Australia-China Diplomatic Relations" in Australia, led a 5-member Labor Party delegation to China for the first time, a week earlier than Henry Kissinger's visit to China. After returning to Australia, on December 2, Mr. Whitlam won the general election and became Australia’s 21st Prime Minister.


Within 20 days of Mr. Whitlam's election victory, Australia established diplomatic relations with China, becoming the fourth Western country to establish diplomatic relations with China after Britain, France, and Canada, and ahead of the United States.


On November 2, 1973, Whitlam visited Beijing for the first time as Prime Minister and was a guest in Chairman Mao Zedong's study. After a 100-minute conversation, Chairman Mao gave Whitlam a large order for Australian wheat for 10 years, and Australia secured its largest customer. (Previously, the annual bilateral trade volume between China and Australia was less than US$90 million, and was mainly in wheat and sugar).


Iron ore was less than US$3 a ton then, but China simply could not afford it. Now Australia sells that to China at US$130 a ton.


Today, the annual trade volume between the two countries has reached U$160 billion. Recently, however, the Australia-China relationship has deteriorated to the lowest level ever, arguably because of the following two "firsts":


  1. Australia was the first to ban Huawei 5G in Australia, ahead of the United States of America, and ahead of almost every other developed economy.

  2. Australia is the first to call for an independent investigation of the origin of Covid19, possibly dancing to the US' tunes.


In 1972, there were huge ideological differences when Australia and China established their diplomatic relationship, and the "values" of both countries were vastly different, maybe as different as they are today.


Australia and China must learn to co-exist, and maybe we should learn to appreciate each other's differences and eat, drink and make money together in harmony as our economy is so complementary. China is a market that the world envies, while Australia has great resources that not many countries can provide.


It is almost the end of the year now, and like every other business owner in Australia, I am grateful to all of my customers, large and small. I will do all I can to make my precious customer happy, so that we can continue trade next year, despite COVID-19.


Today is a special day for the Australia and China relations, one that people should not forget, especially in the Australia-China space.


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