How Australia Fights China

China’s relationship with Australia is strained, with Beijing retaliating significantly on the economic front since 2020, as Australia consolidates its alliance with the United States in the Indo-Pacific region while strengthening its defensive measures.

China’s demands

Isabelle Dellerba, a correspondent for Le Monde in Australia, wrote on July 4 about the strained relations between China and Australia, which have been suddenly strained since Australia publicly demanded an investigation into the source of the New Coronavirus in April 2020.

The article reads that on November 17, 2020, Jonathan Kearsley, a reporter for Australia’s 9News television station, met with the Chinese ambassador to Australia at a cafe weeks after requesting an interview on China-Australia relations, and the ambassador said that for the sake of clarity, he handed the reporter a piece of paper with no title and no signature, just a list of The ambassador said that for the sake of clarity he handed the journalist a piece of paper that was untitled and unsigned, just a list of 14 demands, which were subsequently described by Australians as 14 sins by China, a mishmash that included “calls for an independent international investigation into the new crown, which echoes the U.S. attacks on China,” “the ongoing unwarranted harm to China on Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan,” and “the Australian media’s unjustifiable efforts to protect China. “and “unfriendly and hostile reporting by the Australian media. And the Communist official also said China is angry. If you make China your enemy, China will be your enemy.

Jonathan Carsley recalled his surprise at the violence with which the message was delivered, which would soon make headlines in local newspapers, and Australians found themselves the target of blackmail. Australian Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison immediately hit back, stating that our values are non-negotiable, our democracy is non-negotiable, our sovereignty is non-negotiable!

Australian Government Response

The Australian government has adopted a patient strategy of not provoking, not increasing pressure, being consistent and never backing down. Since 2006, when China overtook Japan as Australia’s first trading nation, the Australian government has ensured that it does not want to stir up tensions with the Asian giant, but that Australia also protects its sovereignty, its interests and the values it shares with Washington.

After World War II, the United States signed the Pacific Security Treaty (Anzus) with Australia and New Zealand in 1951 as a strategic ally and partner to protect Australia and New Zealand from a possible resurgence of Japanese militarism. New Zealand withdrew in 1985, and the treaty effectively became a bilateral U.S.-Australian agreement and the basis for the alliance between the two countries. However, Australian officials like to caution, “Our country does not make a choice between the United States and China. “

At a time when Xi Jinping has declared an unabashed determination to be a great power and Washington sees Beijing as its main rival, and the Indo-Pacific region has become the center of this competition, does this no-choice stance stand up for Australia?

In his official speech on July 1, 2020, Prime Minister Morrison warned of the disappearance of the development-friendly security environment Australia once enjoyed from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the 2008 global financial crisis, noting that “the new dynamics of strategic competition” “accelerated further with the new crown pandemic.”

Attempts at intimidation

Against a backdrop of growing incomprehension between China and the United States, and in the face of a Chinese threat that Canberra is reluctant to name but that everyone is talking about, Australia is trying to better protect itself, both domestically, through measures aimed at limiting interference and strengthening national unity, and abroad, through increased military spending, and the country has begun to diversify its exports more.

Since the great crisis of the new crown epidemic, which began in April 2020, China has indeed focused its attacks on the Australian economy, targeting wine in particular. Bruce Tyrrell, director and managing director of a prestigious winery 450 kilometers from the capital Canberra that has been growing grapes since 1864, has had a bitter experience and now sees Beijing as a hostile player, saying Australia is a sovereign nation; we don’t like attempts at intimidation.

Bruce Tyrrell produces wines that are exported around the world, especially to China. In the ’80s, I was a bit skeptical about this new Chinese] market, but I decided to give it a try! I found some high-end customers.

But the mad rush for Australian wine came to an abrupt end one morning in November 2020, when the Communist-led Chinese government began imposing anti-dumping duties of up to 218 percent on Australian wine. Bruce Terrell sees an excuse to punish us! Australian wine exports to China plummeted from A$1.1 billion (nearly €700 million) to just A$20 million.

Denouncing the “economic coercion” measures, Australia complained to the World Trade Organization on June 19 about punitive tariffs imposed by China on its wine, and a similar process has been launched to protest against Chinese tariffs on its barley exports.

Similarly Australian lobster fishermen had the same experience, exporting 94 percent of their shellfish to China before Australian lobsters were swept off the Chinese market in late October 2020, with Chinese authorities subsequently claiming to have found “toxic heavy metals” in a shipment.

No other country has benefited as much from China’s rapid growth and industrialization as Australia. From 1992 to 2020, China has continued to ensure its growth for 28 consecutive years. In 2019 it becomes the world’s second largest country importing large quantities of minerals and agricultural products, and more than a third of Australia’s products are exported to China.

Michael Shoebridge, director of the Defence, Strategy and National Security Program at the Australia Institute, said, “After the 2015 free trade agreement, import and export trade boomed and economic interdependence between the two countries peaked.” The problem is that China now realizes where it can use its economic clout to achieve strategic, security or political goals.

Canberra had just demonstrated its intention to investigate the origins of the new crown outbreak on April 18, 2020, when the then Chinese ambassador offered a boycott of Australian products. A week later, on April 27, Hu Xijin, spokesman for the Chinese Communist Party and editor-in-chief of the Global Times, wrote on the Weibo social network, “Australia is creating the problem, it’s like a piece of chewing gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe from China, you have to find a rock to remove it. “

Accusing Australia of colluding with the United States, Hu Xijin advised the Chinese to think twice before “doing business with Australia” and “when we send our children to study there. A few days later, Beijing was true to its word and retaliated, hitting Australian exports such as beef, barley, coal, wine, lobster, timber, copper, cotton, wool, sugar, wheat, lamb, etc., for reasons given by the Chinese for alleged “technical” violations, “environmental concerns ” and even “unfair competition”.

So why did Australia alone take the initiative to request an international investigation into the New Crown epidemic and incur the wrath of the Chinese side? As some experts pointed out, it was a “poorly thought out”, “ill-prepared” and even “foolish” decision, when everyone agreed that tensions between China and Australia had been building for a long time and that such an approach was just a precursor to a latent crisis. It was agreed at the time that tensions between China and Australia had been building for a long time and that this approach was just a trigger for a latent crisis.

In his office in Sydney’s business center, former Prime Minister Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull stressed that Beijing was “overreacting. In office between September 2015 and August 2018, it was his government that operated to change Australia’s policy towards China. “He pointed out that espionage is on an unprecedented scale, as it is in other parts of the world. There are also many foreign interventions. Every country must defend its sovereignty.

The weak link in Australia’s Western camp

Before this diplomatic turn, China, an Asian power, was mainly concerned about economic constraints. At the time China sold and bought everything, including the strategic infrastructure of the Port of Darwin on a 99-year perpetual lease to a billionaire close to the Chinese government in 2015, much to Washington’s dismay. Since former U.S. President Barack Obama launched his “pivot” policy in 2011, U.S. Marines have been patrolling and the focus of U.S. diplomacy has shifted to the Asia-Pacific region.

The Darwin port incident was intertwined with the Australia-U.S. alliance. In 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor, the port of Darwin was bombed by the Japanese air force, and realizing that London could not ensure its protection, Australia turned to Washington, where it now cooperates with the United States in maritime affairs. Since the late 1960s, there has been a monitoring station in Australia’s Pine Valley region called “Red Heart,” a surveillance station jointly managed by the U.S. and Australia that also shares their information services with the Five Eyes Coalition, a coalition of Australian, Canadian and new U.S. intelligence agencies.

In June 2017, Chen Yonglin warned that Australia was seen as a “weak link” in Beijing’s eyes in this “Western camp. In an interview with the ASPI website Strategist, the former Chinese diplomat, who joined Sydney in 2005, explained that China had decided to “use its economic clout to weaken Australia’s alliance with the United States. “Beijing is using pro-communist Chinese community organizations as a base to increase its influence in the community,” he added. “They monitor and coordinate the activities of Chinese students through their embassies or consulates general in Canberra.”

“Beijing’s goal is both political and economic,” said Feng Chongyi, an expert in contemporary Chinese history at the University of Technology Sydney. For years, he has been alerting the public to the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese community, which makes up nearly 5 percent of the Australian population. While in Guangzhou in the spring of 2017, the intellectual was detained and questioned by intelligence officers, including about his relationship with John Garnaut. The former Beijing-based journalist, who was appointed as a political adviser to Turnbull, was removed from his position because he was referred to in late 2015 by a classified report on Chinese interference in Australia.

Since the moment former Australian Prime Minister Turnbull took office, he was warned that intensive Chinese Communist espionage, especially in the cyber domain, had reached massive proportions. A few months later, the nation was rocked by a scandal that benefited from the generosity of a Chinese real estate tycoon named Sam Dastyari, who gave money to a Labor senator. But at the time, there was nothing to stop the billionaire with close ties to the Communist Party from funding an Australian political party. He was known as “Shanghai Sam” in June 2016 when he unhesitatingly embraced the strategic line of the Communist Party and when he called on Canberra to “respect” Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

To limit such interference, the Australian Conservative government proposed on Dec. 7, 2017, to ban foreign donations to political parties, strengthen the fight against crimes related to espionage and introduce a new crime of interference. This was accused by Beijing of poisoning “the atmosphere of China-Australia relations,” to which Turnbull retorted, “The Australian people have stood up! “, using a phrase similar to Mao Zedong’s famous line in Tiananmen Square in October 1949, “The Chinese people have risen! The Chinese Communist government suspended ministerial visits between the two countries at the time. The law was passed by a majority of Australian and opposition parliamentarians in June 2018.

Military Exercises

Under the leadership of Australia’s current Prime Minister Morrison, the legislation was strengthened again in December 2020. The federal government now has the power to cancel any agreement between an Australian state or city council or agency and a foreign country if it is deemed contrary to the national interest. For example, on April 21 it cancelled two agreements signed by Victoria in 2018 and 2019 that were linked to Xi Jinping’s New Silk Road initiative. And the Australian Department of Defence has been reviewing matters relating to the Port of Darwin since May.

In November 2020, Australian ships joined U.S., Japanese and Indian naval frigates and helicopters during the Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal.

Australia is concerned about Beijing’s rise in the Indo-Pacific region, and is particularly worried about security in the South Pacific, which has traditionally been a Communist sphere of influence and where China has launched a seductive campaign against micro-states in the region, investing heavily and extending credit to countries such as Vanuatu, Fiji, Kiribati and Solomon Islands. Canberra fears that Beijing will establish a military base there, as exemplified by the fact that Beijing has embarked on the rehabilitation of a former U.S. military airstrip at Canton Kiribati Atoll. These infrastructures are close enough to be used as power projection tools …… This will be a game changer.

Beating the drums of war

Also of concern is the fate of Taiwan, which China regards as one of its provinces. On April 25, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said “conflict cannot be ruled out. Home Secretary Michael Pezzullo even referred to “the drums of war being beaten”. These comments by two proponents of a hard line against Beijing, the Asian giant that is causing public concern, were denounced by the Australian Labor opposition as “an escalation of rhetoric for internal policy purposes” and in preparation for the legislative elections to be held before May 2022. This could be described as an escalation of Chinese policy in Australia.

This is arguably one of the biggest failures of Chinese policy in Australia, and the Communist Party’s war-wolf behavior has seriously damaged its image in the country. The more moderate voices within Australia’s political parties have diminished and hawkishness has risen. The hawkish Senator James Patterson pointed out that “no government, Labor or Liberal, is likely to cave to any of the 14 articles proposed by China,” and that “these themes are at the heart of our identity as a liberal democracy. This means being more realistic about the direction of relations between the two countries. “

On the economic front, measures in response to China are beginning to bear fruit. Compared to 2019, all of Australia’s exports to China are down just 2 percent in 2020, with a spike in iron ore prices making up for Australia’s losses.

Will Xi Jinping revisit his strategy in Australia? Australians are not convinced, and Australians are convinced that China wants their country to be a precursor to those considering a boycott of the Chinese Communist forces, and they want to know what the next step in this endless confrontation will be.