Book launch & panel discussion—China Panic

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

IN-PERSON EVENT ONLY. Light refreshment at 5.30pm for a 5.50pm start.

Far more than just a foreign policy issue, Australia's response to China is reshaping the country's domestic politics as well. Few will dispute that Canberra's relationship with Beijing is at an "all-time low", but there is little consensus as to what has brought us to this point. How and why did Australia-China relations fall apart, and where is this leading? Is Australia's choice, as some would have it, a simple one of confrontation or capitulation? Or are there better ways forward?

Join us for a panel discussion to mark the release of David Brophy's China Panic (Black Inc, June 2021). Richard Rigby will chair the event, and will be joined by David, Yun Jiang, and Iain Henry.

About the Speakers

David Brophy is a senior lecturer in modern Chinese history at The University of Sydney. He was formerly a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World. He is historian of China and Central Asia, with a particular interest in Xinjiang and the Uyghurs. His first book was Uyghur Nation (Harvard, 2016), and he has recently published a translation of a work of 18th century Uyghur literature, In Remembrance of the Saints (Columbia, 2021).

Iain Henry is a Senior Lecturer at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University. His research interests include alliance politics, Asian security, the Cold War in Asia, diplomatic history and Australian strategic policy. He has published in International Security, Contemporary Politics, the Australian Journal of International Affairs and Security Challenges. His first book, tentatively titled Reliability and Alliance Interdependence: the U.S. and its Allies in Asia, 1949-1969, will be published in 2022.

Yun Jiang is a managing editor of the China Story blog at the Australian Centre on China in the World and produces China Neican. Prior to joining the ANU, she was a policy adviser in the Australian Government, having worked in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury and the Department of Defence.

Richard Rigby is Emeritus Professor in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. After completing his PhD under Professor Wang Gungwu at the ANU, Richard Rigby joined the Australian foreign service. He was a diplomat for some 26 years, with postings in Beijing, Tokyo, London, Shanghai (Consul-General), and Israel (Ambassador). From 2001-2008, he served as Assistant Director-General in the Office of National Assessments, responsible for North and South Asia. He was Founding Director of the China Institute (2008-2018) and Associate Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World (2011-2017) at the ANU.

China Panic (RRP$32.99) is available for purchase at the book launch. Buy a copy and have it signed by David Brophy!

China Panic: Australia's Alternative to Paranoia and Pandering

When he visited Australia in 2014, Chinese president Xi Jinping said there was an 'ocean of goodwill' between our country and his. Since then that ocean has shown dramatic signs of freezing over. Australia is in the grip of a China Panic. How did we get here and what's the way out?

We hear, weekly, alarming stories of Chinese influence, interference or even espionage - in politics, on campus, in the media, in community organisations and elsewhere. The United States now sees China as a strategic rival, and pressure on Australia to 'get tough on China' will only intensify.

While the xenophobic right hovers in the wings, some of the loudest voices decrying Chinese subversion come, unexpectedly, from the left. Aligning themselves with hawkish think tanks, they call for new security laws, increased scrutiny of Chinese Australians and, if necessary, military force - a prescription for a sharp rightward turn in Australian politics.

In this insightful critique, David Brophy offers a progressive alternative. Instead of punitive measures that restrict rights and stoke suspicion of minorities - moves that would only make Australia more like China - we need democratic solutions that strengthen Australian institutions and embrace, not alienate, Chinese Australians. Above all, we need forms of international solidarity that don't reduce human rights to a mere bargaining chip.