Shifting Interests: Whitlam, Britain and French Nuclear Tests in the South Pacific


  • Changwei Chen

    1. School of International Studies, Peking University
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    • This research was supported by the Australian Government under an Australian Prime Ministers Centre Fellowship, an initiative of the Museum of Australian Democracy. The author would like to thank administrators and staffs of the Centre for their assistance. He is equally grateful to Stephen Garton, Frank Bongiorno, and Rory O'Malley for their useful comments.


This article focuses on the interaction between the Australian and British governments during the early 1970s over French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. It examines the considerations behind the Australian government's approach to Britain, and Britain's response to initiatives from Australia. Through the presentation of a case study demonstrating how Australia's Pacific interests and Britain's European concerns inevitably led to different perspectives, I argue that the policies of both countries were primarily determined by their consideration of regional geopolitical interests, rather than the lingering links of Empire.