Trisha Shetty

Australian Consulate General, Shanghai

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Style  His Excellency
Australian Consulate-General, Shanghai
Appointer  Governor General of Australia
Inaugural holder  Edward S. Little (Trade Commissioner) Roger Brown (Consul-General)
Formation  26 February 1921 (Trade Commission) 2 July 1984 (Consulate-General)
Website  Australian Consulate-General Shanghai, China

The Australian Consulate-General in Shanghai represents the Commonwealth of Australia in Shanghai, the most populous city and a global financial centre in the People's Republic of China. The Consulate-General, one of many in Shanghai, has its offices in the CITIC Square building, 1168 Nanjing Road West.


The Australian Consulate-General in Shanghai reports to the Australian Embassy in Beijing, which reports to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, Australia, a process in line with the majority of Australia's consulates around the world. Originally established as a Trade Commission in 1921, the consulate predates Australia's diplomatic presence in China by 20 years.

Little Trade Commission

Originally established on 26 February 1921 with the appointment of Edward S. Little as Trade Commissioner of the Commonwealth Government in Shanghai, Little was the first Trade Commissioner ever appointed by the Australian Government, marking the beginning of the Australian Trade Commissioner Service first maintained by the Department of Trade and Customs. On his appointment it was noted by Prime Minister Billy Hughes that it was "the intention of the Federal Ministry at an early date to ask Parliament for authority to establish a service of trade commissioners which will be linked up with the Bureau of Commerce and Industry." Little toured the country before leaving for China in order to gauge the level of interest from Australian business circles in operating in China and noted that his posting would be the first direct representation of Australia in China: "They have been Represented in the post in Hongkong, but that is not really China."

However on 26 July 1923, the Minister for Trade and Customs, Austin Chapman, announced that Little's posting was to be closed, with various concerns being raised about the expenses of maintaining the office in Shanghai. On the announcement The Age alleged that Little had abused his expenses as Trade Commissioner and noted that "It has now been decided to abolish the useless representation, from which producers and merchants in this country have derived no benefits whatever". The decision was met with significant outcry elsewhere however, particularly the Shanghai press, with Finance and Commerce lamenting that "The benefits of having a man on the spot to watch the trade interests of Australia should be obvious" and the North China Daily News decrying the decision as "regrettable and calculated to injure Australian prestige in the Far East." Little later published an article in The Bulletin noting what he saw as his wrongful dismissal and that the allegations surrounding his recall were completely unfounded.

Bowden Trade Commission

On 30 August 1933 the Minister for Commerce, Frederick Stewart, secured Cabinet approval for the establishment of several Trade Commissions in the East, with Shanghai, Batavia and Hong Kong being the most likely locations. However a decision to appoint a commissioner was delayed pending the report of Attorney General and Minister for External Affairs John Latham's fact-finding mission to the Far East, which found a dire need for Australian trade representative to improve mercantile connections in the region. While in Shanghai in April 1934, Latham met with representatives in the Shanghai International Settlement, including the British Chamber of Commerce and the China Association, as well as other Chinese and foreign business representatives, and was impressed by the interest in an expanded Australian business presence in the region.

Following Latham's return the Australian Government agreed to appoint a new Trade Commissioner, and the appointment of Vivian Gordon Bowden to Shanghai, alongside appointments to Tokyo and Batavia, was announced on 7 June 1935 by acting Prime Minister Earl Page. With the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in July 1937 and the Battle of Shanghai in August 1937, it was decided that Bowden remain in the city (the Trade Commission was located in the HSBC Building, within the relatively safe International Settlement) to keep the government informed on developments in the conflict and to work on "measures for the protection of Australian lives and property". Bowden served in Shanghai until September 1941 when he was appointed Official Representative of the Commonwealth Government in Singapore. It was also confirmed at the same time that Bowden would not be replaced in Shanghai, with all trade and commerce matters now the responsibility of the new Australian Legation in Chungking headed by Minister Sir Frederic Eggleston.

Wootten Trade Commission

With the end of the war, the Australian Department of Commerce and Agriculture decided to re-establish the Trade Commissioner Service, with Shanghai among the number of posts set to be reopened. In June 1946, Prime Minister Ben Chifley announced the appointment of Alfred Wootton as the new Trade Commissioner in Shanghai. Wootton, who had served under Bowden during his service in Shanghai and Singapore, however found a city much changed since the war, then in the midst of a collapsing economy and the central Nationalist Government crumbling in the face of strong opposition from the Chinese Communist Party. With the serious decline in Shanghai's importance for trade and the effects of the war upon trade prospects, the Trade Commission in Shanghai was closed in December 1948, not long before the victory of the Communists and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.


In February 1984, Foreign Minister Bill Hayden announced the establishment of an Australian Consulate-General in Shanghai while on an official visit to China, which was followed by the appointment of Roger Brown as the first Consul-General on 25 June. On 2 July 1984, Attorney General Gareth Evans officially opened the new consulate remarking that the new consulate was "a clear reflection of the remarkable growth that has taken place in relations in recent years".


Australian Consulate-General, Shanghai Wikipedia

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