China had been vociferously involved in a diplomatic cum trade dispute with Australia. Beijing’s aim was simple, subdue opposition by flexing its muscles, but, it has been a year of disappointment for the Chinese and as it occurred, this plan backfired gloriously.
The Chinese have, since Australia backed the call for an open investigation, started to up the ante on its belligerent policies hoping to ruin the Australian economy. They imposed various bans on several major exports from Australia including coal and raised tariffs exorbitantly on several goods including wine and agricultural products like Barley. Australia was attacked by the CCP diplomatically using morphed images and was backed into the corner, but instead of bowing down to the Chinese aggression, it found its footing and bounced back with the help of its friends in the QUAD. As a result, the Australian economy has posted a growth of 3.3% and has pulled itself out of its first recession in three decades.
The phenomenal growth that the Australian economy experienced in a pandemic ridden world was helped by the fact that Australian found a way via its friends to negate the effects of Chinese aggression.
When China raised tariffs on Barley, Australia found a willing friend in India. The Aussies were looking at losses of more than $500 million every year, had India not come to the rescue. India, in February, opened its markets to Australian Barley for the first time, and deals worth 500,000 tonnes were being negotiated.
When China raised the tariffs on wine by 212 per cent, the whole world rallied to support Australia against the Chinese tariffs. Parliamentarians around the world including the Taiwanese ones sent messages of support to buy Australian wine all over the world.
Moreover, Australia’s decision to hurt Australian coal exports has emerged as an infliction for China itself. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coking coal, which is used primarily for manufacturing steel and generating electricity. The Unofficial ban reduced Chinese imports of Australian coal from 76% in March to about 26%. China is the largest producer and consumer of steel and in the absence of cheap Australian coal; it is on course to suffer heavy consequences.
Diplomatically, Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman posted fake photos of “ an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan Child” which enraged the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling the tactics absolutely crass, shameless and the pictures repugnant and demanded an apology.
Global Times, the pet propaganda machine of the CCP, had its say on Australia, when The Global Times editor, Hu Xijin said on Weibo: “Australia is always there, making trouble. It is a bit like chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes. Sometimes you have to find a stone to rub it off.”
The Pandemic has seen an increase in Chinese aggressive diplomacy fuelled by Donald Trump’s masterclass in stemming the growth of China as a world power. The Quad has been central to Trump’s containment of China. Australia is also a member of the QUAD albeit the weakest militarily and China has been attacking it diplomatically and on trade issues but so far the other QUAD members have stood in support.
India began negotiations with Japan and Australia for a trilateral supply Chain which would decrease their dependency on the global supply chains and would effectively negate any aggressive tactics by China in terms of trade and economy.
QUAD’s meteoric rise as a more than able counter to China in the Indo-pacific was showcased when for the first time India invited Australia to participate in the Malabar exercises along with the United States and Japan. This also ensured that a Militarized Quad will be formalized soon.
China wanted to show the world that it is one of the major powers and is willing to flex its muscles and hurt economies as it pleased. It wanted fealty from its partners. It does not believe in making friends but economic partners. And it believed that Australia calling for an international probe into the Wuhan virus in China is out of order and began to diplomatically and economically attack the “land down under”. But it overestimated its capabilities and underestimated Australian allies and it is biting it back as Australia is on course to diversify its exports and import market out of China.