December 18th – China-Australia relations have attracted attention recently due to trade disputes, and Australia’s insistent policy towards China has also attracted criticism. In an article published by the Financial Times on the 17th, it collected the critical voices of people from all walks of life in Australia and pointed out that “the Australian government’s amateur foreign policy towards China has put trade in trouble”.
This week marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (which entered into force on December 20, 2015), a diplomatic achievement that increases trade volume by 100 billion Australian dollars a year. However, no one in Canberra is celebrating this, which has triggered a rare debate about Australian diplomacy.
Australia’s foreign policy has always been characterized by the agreement between the Labor Party and the Conservative Party, but Prime Minister Morrison’s angry reaction to “Chinese diplomat tweets” and “Beijing’s trade policy to Australia” has aroused unease about Australia’s handling of relations with China.
“I think the government really needs to stop paying attention to those headlines and figure out what to do and how to help our exporters,” Penny Wong, a spokesman for the Australian Labour Party’s foreign affairs, told Australian television last week. Huang Yingxian’s criticism directly targeted Morrison.
Some commentators and businesses worry that Australia is quietly deviating from its long-standing position that there is no need to choose between China, its largest trading partner and its strategic ally, the United States.
Geoff Raby, Australia’s former ambassador to China, said that “Australia’s foreign policy towards China has been ‘weaponized’, and the security, intelligence and defense agencies have taken control of Australia’s foreign policy over the past six years.” He further mentioned that Australia also advocated some unnecessary policies towards China, such as banning Huawei 5G.
Fierce diplomatic and trade tensions also worried Australian companies, who openly urged Canberra to re-establish relations with Beijing. An executive from a multi-billion-dollar company privately told the Financial Times that the Australian government’s foreign strategy has always been “amateur”. James Robson, owner of Orange Rosfield Wine Company in New South Wales, also said, “We don’t understand why the government provoked a fight with the largest customer.”
The deterioration of Sino-Australian relations is rapid and painful. James Curran, a professor of history at the University of Sydney, believes that Australia’s foreign policy is more a failure in the way it is implemented. In particular, in the absence of consultation with China and other countries, the Australian government’s decision to require an investigation into the origin of the novel coronavirus is It’s an error step. Coran also sighed, “Will the United States help Australia in terms of our affected export markets? The answer is no.