A Ripped Up Deal, Virus Accusations And Spies: Australia-China Relations In Freefall
Muhammad Irfan 18 days ago Wed 21st April 2021 | 08:03 PM
Spying charges, calls for a probe into the origins of Covid-19, and now a body blow to Chinese Belt and Road ambitions Down Under -- tensions between Australia and its biggest trade partner China are going from bad to worse
Beijing, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 21st Apr, 2021 ) :Spying charges, calls for a probe into the origins of Covid-19, and now a body blow to Chinese Belt and Road ambitions Down Under -- tensions between Australia and its biggest trade partner China are going from bad to worse.
Here is a look at the latest rupture in relations and how the long-running rumble started.
- Goodbye BRI - Australia on Wednesday announced a revocation of the Victorian state government's deal to join China's sprawling Belt and Road Initiative, saying it did not meet national foreign policy priorities.
By tearing up documents signed in 2018 and 2019 -- a memorandum of understanding and a framework agreement -- Foreign Minister Marise Payne risks seriously provoking Beijing by taking aim at one of its big geostrategic priorities.
- Coronavirus origins - Australia last April joined the United States in calling for a thorough investigation into how the coronavirus transformed from a localised epidemic in central China into a pandemic -- triggering outraged warnings from the Chinese ambassador to the country.
Cheng Jingye said demands for a probe could lead to a consumer boycott of Australian wine or tourist trips, adding that the push for an independent inquest was "dangerous".
- Trade hit - The rift has since left Australian exporters exposed, with China imposing a series of retaliatory bans on agricultural products such as beef, barley and timber.
Neither side openly linked the suspension to the call for an inquiry, citing technical issues instead.
But soon after, China announced anti-dumping tariffs on barley as well, and its latest measures take aim at Australian wine.
- Detention and spying - Another area of contention involves high-profile Australian citizens detained by China: writer Yang Jun and journalist Cheng Lei.
Australia's Payne has previously decried China's treatment of Yang as "unacceptable".
In September, two Australian journalists were rushed out of China after police sought to question them, while Beijing accuses Canberra of raiding its journalists' homes as it investigates an alleged covert influence campaign.
- 'Five Eyes' kickback - Australia is among Western allies -- the so-called 'Five Eyes' -- accusing China of violating its legally binding international commitments on Hong Kong after imposing a tough security law on the city.
The United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have hit out at China for ousting pro-democracy lawmakers from Hong Kong's legislature and raised fears over the intentions of Chinese tech companies overseas.
A foreign ministry spokesman warned: "No matter if they have five or ten eyes, if they dare to damage China's sovereignty, security and development interests, they should beware of being blinded." bys/apj/dan