China not as big a challenge as we think: DFAT chief tells Crawford Forum

21 June 2017

Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson has told the ANU Crawford Australian Leadership Forum that the challenge Australia faces from a rising China is not as big as many Australians perceive it to be.

She also said a recent charm-offensive by visiting US Government officials has done the job in reassuring Australia that America will maintain a strong presence in Asian-Pacific security.

"We have been challenged by our sometimes vivid imagination about some of these things," Ms Adamson said.

"Some of the polling says Australians see a much bigger China emerging than the Chinese themselves see.

"It may be natural for us to do that but I think the reality lies somewhere in the middle. We are also inclined to worry about a US withdrawal.

"I must say, I think we've been genuinely quite heartened and reassured by what both Vice-President Pence has said when he came to the region, and what Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson have had to say, and by what was by any comparison a particularly good Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations in Sydney a couple of weeks ago."

The Crawford Australian Leadership Forum is Australia's leading public policy conference, which brings together 150 experts from politics, government, business and academia.

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team