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Australia-China ties ‘doomed’, declares Beijing expert

Jessica Yun
·2-min read
Vector of Conflict concept of Australian and Chinese flag background. EPS Ai 10 file format.
Tensions between Australia and China look unlikely to resolve itself, a Beijing expert has said. (Source: Getty)

The hostile relationship between Australia and China appears to be damaged beyond repair, a researcher and academic has declared.

According to a recent analysis piece by Beijing Foreign Studies University’s Australian Studies Centre assistant professor Diane Hu, the incoming Biden presidency may reset America’s relationship with the Asian superpower, but will do little for bilateral ties with Australia.

In fact, things might get worse.

“The strategic and security aspect of bilateral relations between China and Australia will tend to grow more contentious,” Hu said.

This will be further exacerbated if Biden creates a new alliance of ‘US allies and partners’ – and it would be nearly impossible for Australia not to take part in this group, she said.

Ever since Canberra led the call for an independent WHO inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, Beijing has taken increasingly aggressive actions against Australian trade exports in recent months, imposing tariffs on wine and barley as well as restricting coal, lobsters, timber, red meat, and cotton.

While optimistic pundits have pointed out that China is importing more Australian iron ore than ever, Hu notes that investment in other aspects of Australia have dwindled.

“Chinese investment in Australia has continued to shrink for three consecutive years, lower than the last ebb in bilateral relations around 2010, and almost down to the 2007 level when capital inflow from China just started to be substantial.”

Lack of trust is at the heart of the matter, she said.

“Australia does not trust China and has amplified this by taking administrative decisions and proactive legislation to that end while loudly publicising them.

“But the issue is that Australia expects the trade relationship to be ‘business as usual’.”

Differences between the two nations have been widening since 2017, and the chasm has grown wider as Canberra demonstrates itself to be increasingly willing to speak out against the superpower, the Beijing expert added.

“Australia that has grown more and more assertive and outspoken about what it believes,” she said.

“With both sides unlikely to back down in any of the above areas and shrinking policy space among megaphone diplomacy and unwise messaging, it is getting increasingly unrealistic to imagine a reset in China-Australia relations for the near future.”

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