The “Chinese Influence” Debate and the Breach in Australia’s Progressive-Neoliberal Consensus


The consensus between neoliberalism and progressivism has proved wholly inadequate to address Chinese influence in Australia's public life.

Start Date

20th Apr 2018 5:30pm

End Date

20th Apr 2018 7:00pm


Law Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of Law Building, Sandy Bay campus

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presented by

Dr Mark Harrison

University of Tasmania

Australia is in the midst of a vitriolic national debate concerning China’s influence in politics and public life. Controversial topics include the actions of former federal senator Sam Dastyari, the Commonwealth parliamentary hearings into the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme, and the publication of Clive Hamilton’s Silent Invasion.

The presentation argues that the divisive national debate about China has illuminated an ideological consensus between neoliberalism and progressivism that has dominated Australian politics since the 1980s. However, this consensus has has proved wholly inadequate to address the organisations in the party-state of the People’s Republic of China that do indeed seek to influence Australia’s public life and policy-making on specific issues in distinctive ways. 

The national debate about China’s influence shows Australia’s neoliberal-progressive consensus breaking down and also the need for a policy language in our public institutions for engagement with China that is less about Australia and its imagined futures and more about a realistic understanding of China’s contemporary system.

About Mark Harrison

Dr Mark Harrison is a Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Tasmania in the Politics and International Relations Program in the School of Social Sciences. He is also an Adjunct Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University. He teaches units on politics and international relations as well as units on China.