Explained: How Sino-Australian Ties Collapsed
The downward spiral of Sino-Australian relations dates back to recent years, with the worst clash between the two countries occurring in 2020.
A bilateral agreement has a role to play: the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), which was signed on June 17, 2015, and has seen 95% of Australia’s exports to China duty free. However, concerns have arisen about China’s involvement in 5G technologies, along with fears of security breaches. Adding to the strained relationship, the Australian government has announced tougher rules on foreign buyers of farmland and power infrastructure.
What followed in 2020, alongside the pandemic, only fueled the fire. In March 2020, concerns about the pandemic-induced economic slowdown increased, as did fears about outside buyouts. The Australian Border Security Force intercepted a shipment of faulty masks and personal protective equipment from China. Australia, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, subsequently called for an inspection of the outbreak, suggesting the WHO needed strict “arms inspector” powers to investigate the cause of the outbreak. epidemic. A few days later, China blacklisted 35 percent of Australia’s beef exports.
On May 19, later in the month, an 80 percent tariff on barley imports from Australia was applied. The move did not come as much of a shock, as expected when barley imports from the United States were unfrozen the week before. A week after the ban, the Chinese government warned Australia to “distance itself from the United States,” after which they accused the United States of pushing for a “new cold war” claiming that any support which the Australians would demonstrate would end in a “fatal blow”.
China has also denied an alleged wave of cyber attacks in June. These events were followed by an increase in racial discrimination and violence through a series of attacks against Chinese and Asians in Australia.
In November, “anti-dumping” tariffs ranged from 107.1% to 212.1% on wine imported from Australia and later in December imports of coal were completely blocked. Federal Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced on April 21, 2021 that Australia would cancel its agreements with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a dream project of the Communist Party of China. The global infrastructure development strategy with land routes for road and rail transport across landlocked Central Asia. The route here referred to the Indo-Pacific sea route. Against this initiative, the Blue Dot Network was introduced with the United States, Japan and Australia as stakeholders.
In June 2020, Australia openly opposed Hong Kong’s national security law, resulting in the suspension of the extradition treaty with Hong Kong. In November, the Chinese Embassy released a list of fourteen grievances ending with the incident where the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “China is angry. If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy. The official also added that if Australia gave up on the policies on the list, it would be “clean for a better atmosphere” which Australia saw as an open threat.
Relations continued to deteriorate after a Chinese political cartoon sparked a storm, prompting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to demand an apology. In a reference to the Brereton Report alleging Australian war crimes in Afghanistan, Wuhe Qilin created an image of an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to the throat of an Afghan child.
Often, some of the smaller Pacific island countries are caught in the middle of the divide between them. For years, there has been a dispute between Australia and China that has impacted all 14 island nations. One of them was Papua New Guinea with the vaccine rollout. With Australians providing full support, the Chinese state-run news tabloid Global Times accused them of sabotaging Chinese vaccines. This island is of particular interest to both countries because of its positioning between Asia and America. In terms of vaccine deployment, China’s 300,000 vaccine donations in the Pacific were lower than Australia’s nearly 600,000 dose donations, with Canberra pledging 15 million more doses. It hasn’t helped that the Sinopharm vaccine proposed by China has not been approved by the World Health Organization. By the time it was approved in May, the AstraZeneca vaccine supplied by Australia had already been distributed. 270,000 vaccines from China have been deployed to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as well as Papua New Guinea according to research from an analysis company Airfinity which, combined, is less than Australia’s contribution.
Apart from all that, the falling out between the two nations had been picked up by the Five Eyes – an intelligence-sharing agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, going back in the cold war. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China would not back down if problems arose. “No matter how many eyes they have, five or ten or whatever, if anyone dares to undermine China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, be careful not to sting your eyes.” .