Australia Markets open in 8 hrs 8 mins

Australia's already frosty relationship with China just got worse — as Beijing slams Liberal MP for Nazi comparison

Aleks Vickovich
  • The Chinese Embassy to Australia has released a strongly-worded statement blasting federal Liberal MP Andrew Hastie for his "Cold War mentality and ideological bias".
  • Hastie penned an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age which compared China to Nazi Germany and warned of the "threats" posed by the country.
  • The spat comes as the federal government (of which Hastie is a member) tries to repair its damaged relationship with its top trading partner over Australia's decision to ban Chinese telco Huawei from its 5G network.

Andrew Hastie obviously isn't familiar with Godwin's Law that Nazi comparisons on the internet never end well — because the Liberal backbencher and former SAS captain has just kicked off a fight between Australia and its top trading partner China for doing exactly that.

In an opinion piece published by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Thursday, Hastie compared Australia's relationship with China to France's relationship with Nazi Germany, drawing an equivalence (and opening a can of worms) his boss Prime Minister Scott Morrison really didn't need.

China wasted no time hitting back at Hastie, with Beijing's embassy in Canberra issuing a statement accusing the right-wing Western Australian of a "Cold War mentality and ideological bias".

"We strongly deplore the Australian federal MP Andrew Hastie’s rhetoric," the statement said. "It goes against the world trend of peace, cooperation and development. It is detrimental to China-Australian relations."

The embassy made clear it wasn't taking Hastie's comments as a standalone incident, but tarring all Aussie politicians with the same brush.

"We urge certain Australian politicians to take off their 'colored lens' and view China's development path in an objective and rational way," the statement said. "They should make efforts to promote mutual trust between China and Australia, instead of doing the opposite."

The controversy comes less than one week after Hastie's colleague Foreign Minister Marise Payne flew to Bangkok for a meet-and-greet with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi aimed at patching up relations between the two Asia-Pacific neighbours and close economic allies.

"It is a regret that the process of improvement in China-Australia relations is unsatisfactory," the Chinese Embassy in Australia said in a statement following that meeting.

"It is hoped that the Australian side will stick to the concept of openness and inclusiveness and create a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises."

The comments were a thinly-veiled swipe at Australia's decision to ban Chinese telco Huawei from its 5G technology rollout — a decision China has officially complained about to the World Trade Organisation.

Having already put the Australian government on notice, it's little wonder ScoMo is reportedly trying to play down this latest scandal.

The Australian Prime Minister has indicated Hastie doesn't really represent the government's views, telling SBS the MP is just a backbencher, "not a minister".

After mouthing off in the media, it's likely Hastie will stay that way for some time.