Beijing [China], May 27 (ANI): Australia’s ambassador to China Graham Fletcher on Wednesday called the Chinese campaign of economic punishment against Australia “vindictive” as diplomatic relations between the two countries remain strained.
“He’s been exposed as unreliable as a business partner and even vindictive,” Fletcher said.
Australia’s ambassador to China Graham Fletcher made a caustic assessment of China’s behavior while talking to Australian companies via a video link from Beijing, ABC News reported.
“I’m not sure China is aware of the damage that is happening both in Australia and internationally,” Fletcher told China’s Australian business council.
ABC News reported that Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials confirmed that Australian trade with China had fallen in almost every industry, with global figures largely boosted by Beijing’s strong demand for iron ore.
In the past nine months, the Chinese government has targeted several Australian industries, including barley, coal, timber and locusts, while trying to force Canberra to support a wide range of disputes.
No new sanctions have been imposed this year, although the wine industry believes tariffs on Australian wine first introduced last year will be blocked (and possibly increased) in a matter of days, ABC News reports.
The ambassador also warned that Australian companies that rely too heavily on the Chinese market could be left exposed to government-led economic coercion campaigns.
“You just have to imagine that unexpectedly you will be able to lose your Chinese market for no other reason than Beijing has decided to send a message to Canberra,” he said.
He also said the escalating pattern of trade punishment generated “sympathy” for Australia and hardened attitudes toward China around the world, ABC News reported.
“We feel a lot of sympathy and silent support from many countries that may not necessarily be waiting around the world, who can see what’s going on and say, ‘Look, we don’t want to live in a world where China behaves like that and is able to ‘set the agenda,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Wilson, of the U.S.-Asia Centers in Perth, said the ambassador’s comments suggested that Australia “was looking for multilateral rather than bilateral solutions to trade disputes with China.” “Australia-China trade problems are no longer really almost in Australia,” he told the ABC.
China has imposed various sanctions on other countries, including the EU and Britain, it has become clear that “sanctions diplomacy” is now part of its global diplomatic toolkit.
In addition, statements by the United States at the Anchorage Summit made it clear that the Biden administration intends to pursue and resist this new form of Chinese behavior.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not directly address Fletcher’s comments when reporters asked him, but emphasized the “great support” Australia had received from other democracies over its dispute with China, ABC News reported. .
“Clearly we face difficult problems in this relationship. And we are very grateful for the great support we have had from liberal democracies around the world, no more and no less than the United States,” he said.
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attacked Beijing and said its “blatant economic coercion in Australia” was an example of the increasingly urgent threat posed by resurgent authoritarian regimes. reported ABC News.
U.S. leaders continue to promise to intensify competition with China following the bitter Anchorage meeting.
Overnight, U.S. President Joe Biden said the competition between the two powers was symbolic of a broader issue: “autocracy or democracy, because that’s what’s at stake.” “This is a battle between the usefulness of democracy in the 21st century and autocracies,” he said.