It is easy for governments to disguise their inability to manage complex relationships by resorting to finger-pointing and name-calling. But the over-investment in emotion usually masks an under-investment in thinking. The stridency that distinguishes contemporary government pronouncements on China and Australia’s relationship with China is alarmist and alarming. We need a more considered and deliberate approach to the relationship with China if we are to avoid the pitfalls of over-reaction and realise the opportunities that a managed engagement with China will inevitably bring. This means investing in professional expertise in the management of the Australia-China relationship, and promoting the independence of specialist China commentators.