I was interviewed by World Politics Review on the current state and future of Australia-China relations. Here is an excerpt:
WPR: What are the factors—domestic, regional or global—that are now prompting the two countries to attempt a reset of relations?
van Nieuwenhuizen: In my opinion, the Australian government’s softer tone does not amount to a ‘reset.’ The two countries have not simply hit a button and taken the relationship back to where it was two years ago. Rather, the Morrison government’s slightly different approach reflects the latest stage in an overall evolution in bilateral relations, in which both Australia and China are coming to terms with the realities of changing power dynamics in the Indo/Asia-Pacific region. These include the ‘new normal’ of more confrontational U.S.-China relations amid uncertainty about the US commitment to the region.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne visited Beijing in early November for the Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue. That was the first visit to China by an Australian foreign minister in more than two years, and her visit was widely considered an indication of warmer relations. Payne stated, ‘The Australian Government is committed to a constructive relationship with China, founded on shared interests and mutual respect.’ The government has nonetheless continued to acknowledge the challenges in the relationship.