Mark Chou

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This commentary explores the question of whether the rise of China in the Asia-Pacific is having any impact on the attitudes Australians hold about their own democracy. The rationale for this focus is because China, as reported in another important Lowy Institute study, is said to be transforming not only ‘Australia’s strategic environment’, but also ‘Australian domestic politics’ (Shearer 2010). Even as Australia continues to forge stronger ties with Singapore, recently agreeing to only its second Closer Economic Relations agreement with the city-state since its first Closer Economic Relations agreement with New Zealand some 30 years ago (Shanahan 2015), it is fair to say that no other country in the region quite casts the shadow that China does. As such, this essay will critically analyse the Lowy findings against other national and global studies on democracy, and then explore China’s growing soft power in the context of the autocracy promotion thesis. The commentary argues that the rise of authoritarian powerhouses like China has little to do with how Australians view democracy at home.

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Journal Article

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