Forty Years of Australia-PRC Diplomatic Relations

On 21 December 1972, the Australian government under then prime minister Gough Whitlam formally recognised and established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), through the signing of a joint communiqué by the Australian and PRC ambassadors in Paris.

Thus, the year 2012 marked the fortieth anniversary of the formal bilateral relationship. The milestone was commemorated in Australia and China by a series of official state visits, trade fairs and business forums, academic conferences and commissioned history projects, cultural exchanges and arts exhibitions, Australia Week events held across China and Chinese community events in Australia. The celebrations culminated in two gala dinners hosted respectively by then Australian prime minister Julia Gillard at Parliament House in Canberra and by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Speeches by official representatives focused upon how thriving economic ties, flourishing people-to-people connections in the education and tourism sectors, the need to continue deepening political, economic and cultural bonds, and the visionary role played by Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party of the day in recognising the PRC all provided strong underpinnings to the relationship.

The fortieth anniversary also provided an opportunity for luminaries from both countries to publish works taking stock of the Australia–China relationship. Notable amongst these for its influence and comprehensiveness was a keynote address by Dr Stephen FitzGerald, first Australian Ambassador to the PRC, published in a bilingual format in The China Story Journal produced by the Australian Centre on China in the World and entitled ‘Australia and China at Forty: Stretch of the Imagination’ [link].


November 2011

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

November 2013

October 2014

June 2015