In the face of continued Chinese retaliation, Australian Finance Minister Fredenburg made clear Wednesday that he would now reject some Chinese investment projects that he might have approved in previous years. Frydenberg explained that this is because Australia is now facing a “different China” under Xi Jinping.
Australia’s relationship with China has deteriorated sharply since April last year, when Australian leaders proposed an independent international investigation into the source of the new coronavirus that first broke out in Wuhan. Over the past year or so, China has launched an unprecedented sustained and comprehensive retaliation against Australia, successively resorting to various forms of boycotts of Australian exports to China, such as beef, seafood, barley, timber, wine, coal and ore.
Frydenberg said that despite the great difficulties caused by the Chinese boycott, the Australian federal government has insisted on putting its national interests above its economic interests, reinforcing its position on issues of national interest.
The Associated Press quoted Frydenberg as saying, “We will put the broader national interest first, and that means we have a very clear and coherent sense of where our national interest is when we stand up (to pressure). That’s what we’ve been doing.”
The finance minister said, “There’s no hiding the fact that some of our exports don’t make it to the Chinese market, like our barley, wine and coal.”
However, Frydenberg said Australia still makes considerable profits from iron ore exports to China, “Iron ore is being sold to China because it’s our iron ore that they need most. And the price of iron ore is at an all-time high and is generating a lot of revenue.”
Observers say it is clear that China’s aim in retaliating against Australia with all its might is to force Australia not to follow the U.S. and to radically change its view of China so as to “make an example of it” and deter other U.S. allies from dissolving the U.S.-led coalition to contain China’s expansion.
But observers say the effect has been the opposite, with China’s sanctions not only failing to subdue Australia, but provoking a more determined fight. On the issue of viral traceability, on maintaining freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and on deterring China’s armed reunification with Taiwan, the Australian government has continued to do what it wants and has strengthened its resistance to China in close solidarity with the United States, Japan, India and its Western allies.
Even on the economic front, Beijing’s goals have simply not been met. With the exception of iron ore, most of the other commodities that Australia is boycotted by China have found alternative markets in other countries or are entering the Chinese market through other channels, such as Australian lobster, which arrives in large quantities on Chinese consumers’ tables through Hong Kong.
Just a day before Friedenberg’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, responding to a question about Australia-China trade and economic relations, criticized Australia without naming the country, saying, “Individual countries are “playing the gun” for others, which only makes people pay for the wrong policies of their governments. ” He said, this “is what they deserve”.
Zhao Lijian also said, “We will never accept that individual countries, on the one hand, reap benefits from cooperation with China, and on the other hand, draw a line with ideology and make unfounded accusations to smear China and damage China’s core interests.”