Relations between Australia and China have never been closer, or more fraught. From the time of the Cold War, our alliance with the US has been a source of tension between Canberra and Beijing. Trump’s erratic and irresponsible leadership and prosecution of a trade war with China has put Australia today in a uniquely difficult spot. Chinese influence operations, meanwhile, threaten our sovereignty and the integrity of our political system, and its island-building in the South China Sea has raised tensions in the region. In such circumstances, what, if anything, is the value of cultural engagement?