It did not take too long for China to respond to Australia’s calls for investigation in its role in coronavirus pandemic. Beijing as a retaliation to the recent developments has targeted Australia’s exports.
Soon after the rumblings of investigations started against China at a global stage, Australia is facing the retaliation of Beijing. In late April, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne was vocal and called for the investigation.
In a response few days later, China’s Ambassador to Australia Chen Jingye indicated towards the boycott by Chinese people. He said in an interview to Australian Financial Review, “Maybe the Chinese people will say ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?’”
Now almost a month later, Beijing is in full motion to target and punish Australia for voicing against China.
In latest development, on May 12, citing health reasons, China has stopped beef imports from four Australian abattoirs. Furthermore, as a part of anti-dumping probe, Beijing slapped tariffs of more than 80% on Australia’s barley imports.
With total trade between the countries exceeding $214 billion in 2018 alone, China is Australia’s biggest trading partner. In lieu of the recent recession looming over Australia post COVID-19 pandemic, the economic relationship with China holds importance more than ever.
Increasing political strain between nations and recent bans on Australian trading by China has led the cracks to open between the economic partners. The Chinese media is also increasingly holding on to the “anti-Australia” mantra.
On an international front, experts are of the view that Australia can be test case for new diplomatic front for China – “can a liberal democracy with close trade ties to the authoritarian regime in Beijing still maintain an independent foreign policy, which will at times be critical of the Chinese Communist Party?”, as reported by CNN.
Global relations experts say that the current actions of China against Australia are most certainly a reflection of retaliation to recent investigation calls regarding coronavirus pandemic. China expert McGregor says, “When China wants to punish a country, they do it in public so that country and its population clearly knows there’s a price for crossing China.”