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Morrison’s Tokyo Speech Likens West’s View of China to Germany Prior to World War 2

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

In February of 2023 former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the IPAC Symposium in Tokyo and accused the West of "appeasing" China. Mr. Morrison also claimed credit for rallying other countries to "call out the bullying of the Chinese government." Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Morrison's speech drew parallels between western powers’ views of China today and Neville Chamberlain’s views of Germany in 1938.

A photo of the attendees of the 2023 IPAC Tokyo Symposium including former-Australian Prime Ministers Scott Morrison, former-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Liz Truss, and Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, several Japanese Diet Members, and several IPAC representatives from the EU, Canada, the UK, and Taiwan, with the text "Scott Morrison's IPAC Speech" foregrounded.

Extracts of the speech were provided to Australian media outlets by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a coalition of parliamentarians which urges governments to coordinate and stand against the Chinese Communist Party, prior to the conference taking place.

In one section of the speech, Mr. Morrison likens the modern geopolitics between the west and China to that of 1938, one year prior to the start of World War 2, when the then British prime minister returned from talks with Adolf Hitler:

“The benign and accommodating view of China has proved to be, arguably, the most misplaced assumption in international relations since Neville Chamberlain proclaimed ‘peace in our time’ on his return from Munich in 1938.”

When Mr. Morrison delivered his speech, this section had an additional caveat added:

"It is not to draw an equivalence between these two things, but assumptions that are made in international relations are very important and the west got that wrong."

Mr. Morrison also detailed how Australia had “rallied like-minded countries through initiatives such as the Quad and Aukus to call out the bullying of the Chinese government”.

Prior to Mr. Morrison giving the speech, he was also expected to urge the Albanese government to consider using Magnitsky-style human rights sanctions against Chinese government officials. Notably, as The Guardian reports, Mr. Morrison had not introduced any sanctions against any Chinese officials before leaving office at his 2022 election defeat.

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