China in Xi’s “New Era”: Overstepping Down Under

Issue Date April 2018
Volume 29
Issue 2
Page Numbers 59-67
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In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has embraced the idea that China’s national culture and value system need to be spread more widely abroad if the country is to secure its foreign-policy objectives. The CCP pursues this strategy through routine public diplomacy as well as a range of unorthodox influence operations. Australia has been an early target of these activities. It has also been at the forefront among liberal democracies in generating community, media, and government responses to foreign-influence operations. This article explores some of these operations and responses over the period 2013–2017. It finds that many CCP and Chinese-government initiatives fall outside the spectrum of acceptable public diplomacy, and that Australian institutions nonetheless frequently invite and initiate such activities. In light of these findings, it questions whether new legislation can be effective without complementary changes in the behavior of Australian managers.

About the Author

John Fitzgerald is emeritus professor in the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and a fellow of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra. From 2008 to 2013, he lived in Beijing and oversaw the Ford Foundation’s operations in China. His latest book is Cadre Country: How China Became the Chinese Communist Party (2022).

View all work by John Fitzgerald