Australia–China relations

Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser with other members of the official party at a welcoming ceremony to mark his visit to China in June 1976 (M2881, 16/25)

The second RG Neale Lecture was delivered by John Fitzgerald, Professor of Asian Studies at La Trobe University, on Australia–China relations in 1976.

The lecture was given at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra on 2 August 2007, before an audience that included academics, members of the foreign diplomatic community, former and current Department of Foreign Affairs officials and members of Professor Neale's family.

You can access the audio and transcript of Professor Fitzgerald's lecture from the link at the bottom of this page.

Records release

To coincide with the lecture, the National Archives released digital copies of nearly 100 records of the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1976. Among these records are files from the Australian Embassy in Peking (Beijing) which reveal both Australian and Chinese officials busily searching for signs of what lay in store for regional security, bilateral trade and the general health of the Australia–China relationship.

More information about records on Australia and China are available:  

Australia's diplomatic relations with China

Professor John Fitzgerald biographical note

Portrait of Professor John Fitzgerald

Professor John Fitzgerald is Head of the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University. He graduated from the University of Sydney in 1976 and spent the following year in China under the Australian–Chinese student exchange program. He then completed a PhD in modern Chinese history at the Australian National University in 1983.

In the same year he began work in the Contemporary China Centre of the Australian National University, followed by a year in the Legislative Research Service of the Australian Federal Parliament.

Professor Fitzgerald was appointed to the History Department of the University of Melbourne in 1985 and undertook a Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1988. In 1992 he joined the Department of Politics at La Trobe University, where he was appointed foundation Professor of Asian Studies in 1995.

Professor Fitzgerald has published extensively in three main fields: East Asian history and politics, Chinese–Australian history and Western studies of Asia. His latest book is Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia, recently published by UNSW Press.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2018