Panel 1:Economic Relations


James Reilly (Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney)

James Reilly is an Associate Professor in Northeast Asian Politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science (George Washington University 2008) and an M.A. in East Asia Area Studies (University of Washington 1999), was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Oxford (2008-09), and a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy (2015-16). He also served as the East Asia Representative of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in China from 2001-2008. He is the author of Strong Society, Smart State: The Rise of Public Opinion in China’s Japan Policy (Columbia University Press, 2012), and the co-editor of Australia and China at 40 (UNSW Press, 2012). His articles have appeared in numerous edited volumes and academic journals.


  • Peter Cai (Lowy Institute)

Peter Cai is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. Previously he was a journalist with The Australian, Business Spectator, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, covering business and economic news. Prior to becoming a journalist, Peter was at the Australian Treasury where he worked in the Foreign Investment Review Board Secretariat, focusing largely on state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth fund investment policy. Peter has a master’s degree from Oxford University and holds undergraduate degrees from The University of Adelaide. Peter is currently Group Chief Advisor with Virgin Australia.

  • Peter Drysdale (Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU)

Peter Drysdale is Emeritus Professor of Economics in the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University. He is widely acknowledged as the intellectual architect of APEC. He was founding head of the Australia-Japan Research Centre. He is the author of a large number of books and papers on international trade and economic policy in East Asia and the Pacific, including his prize- winning book, International Economic Pluralism: Economic Policy in East Asia and the Pacific. He is recipient of the Asia Pacific Prize, the Weary Dunlop Award, the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun with Gold Rays and Neck Ribbon, the Australian Centenary Medal, the Japan Foundation Prize, the Asian Cosmopolitan Prize and an Honorary Doctor of Letters, from the Australian National University. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2016. He is presently Co-Editor of East Asia Forum and Head of the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research and the South Asia Bureau of Economic Research. In 2011-12, he served on the Advisory and Cabinet Committee of the Australian Government's White Paper on Australia’s in the Asian Century and was the Australian Chair of a major Joint Study of the Australia-China economic relationship with Zhang Xiaoqiang, the China Center of International Economic Exchanges.


The Australia-China Joint Economic Report (2016) set out a detailed picture of how the Australia-China relationship had grown so remarkably, what challenges it faced in the decade or two ahead and how it could navigate them in what it described as a ‘partnership for change’.

 Over the past year, the bilateral trade and investment relationship continued to grow very strongly, despite continuing weakness in the global economy and increased policy uncertainties surrounding developments in some major industrial countries. Two-way bilateral trade topped A$ 155 billion and grew more than three times as fast as world trade, mainly because of the strength of Australia’s commodity exports and the diversification of trade which the Joint Report foreshadowed. This is clear evidence of the deep market driven trade relationship between Australia and China. ChAFTA has also begun to have its impact on diversification of the relationship.

The health and resilience of the Australia-China relationship defies negative commentary and underscores the analysis set out in the ACJER. So what is behind the negative atmospherics and does it matter? What strategic opportunities is Australia missing from its huge relationship with China?

  • Hans Hendrischke (University of Sydney Business School)

Professor Hans Hendrischke is Professor of Chinese Business and Management at the University of Sydney Business School. He was educated at universities in Germany, Taiwan and Japan and did his postgraduate research at the Contemporary China Institute at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. He lived in China from 1979, working for the diplomatic service and the finance industry. He headed the Centre for Chinese Political Economy at Macquarie University and was head of Chinese Studies and head of school at the University of NSW. He now leads the Business School’s Australia China Business Network.

Professor Hendrischke’s research focuses on political and economic change in China and Australia-China investment relations. Earlier this year he commented that “China’s economy will need more structural reforms to gradually overcome the country’s internal regional and social inequalities. This means more demand for Australian food and energy resources and more outbound investment into Australia”.

Title of Presentation:

Demystifying Chinese investment: Australia under China’s Globalisation


The Demystifying Chinese Investment in Australia reports published by the University of Sydney and KPMG since 2011 have documented the growing economic interdependence between Australia and China that originated during the Chinese-funded mining boom and is now sustained by Chinese investment in Australian real estate, agri-products, health and other services and infrastructure. While iron ore and coal continue to dominate Australian exports to China, they no longer define the future of the relationship.  

Australia had a stranglehold on China under its construction and investment boom. Now Australia’s economic future with China as our largest trading partner depends on our competitiveness in China’s domestic markets and our participation in China’s globalisation. Our growth perspectives lie in our ability to supply goods and services to Chinese consumers and producers and to provide resources, services and finance to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In many sectors of its economy, Australia is now dependent on China. Should we see this as a blessing or a curse and what are the consequences? Time to rethink our relationship as the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and China coincides with China’s 19th Party Congress.