OPINIONS Canberra only has itself to blame


Canberra only has itself to blame


20:09, November 05, 2020

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a news conference in Sydney, Australia, July 27, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)

Although Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared that his government's approach to foreign policy is defined by "strategic patience and consistency", particularly regarding China, his government's rash participation in the US administration's attempts to contain China belies that.

It is Canberra that has undermined what were previously sound and mutually beneficial ties by prejudicially fueling anti-China sentiment at home, baselessly sanctioning Chinese companies and aggressively sending warships to China's doorsteps.

If this is Canberra's "strategic patience", how will it act in a fit of pique?

Canberra should realize it will get nothing from Washington in return for its collusion in its schemes, while Australia will pay tremendously for its misjudgment.

As Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said, although the Chinese government always thinks healthy and stable Sino-Australian relations are consistent with the interests of the peoples of both countries, mutual respect is the foundation and guarantee for pragmatic cooperation.

Those calling the normal trade investigations China is conducting into some Australian imports "economic coercion" or "retribution" are simply viewing Beijing's actions in the same light as Canberra's actions.

But China is Australia's largest trade partner and all of the investigations so far only cover a small part of the imports from Australia — bilateral trade was $159 billion last year, among which Australia's export to China accounts for $104 billion, 30 percent of its total exports.

And the impatience Canberra has demonstrated earlier this week in urging China to accelerate the customs clearance for tons of Australian rock lobsters only betrayed its guilty conscience, since this is merely precaution on China's part. Imported seafood has been confirmed as the source of a number of novel coronavirus outbreaks in the country, which were fortunately quickly contained.

Unlike Washington, Beijing is not offering Canberra an either-or choice, but just reminding it to maintain its diplomatic independence and follow the norms of international relations. To be an ally of the US does not necessarily mean it has to be a roughneck in its gang.

With Australia mired in its worst recession in decades, it should steer clear of Washington's brinkmanship with China before it is too late.

To put it simply, if Canberra continues to go out of its way to be inimical to China, its choosing sides will be a decision Australia will come to regret as its economy will only suffer further pain as China will have no choice but to look elsewhere if the respect necessary for cooperation is not forthcoming.

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