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‘Not a good omen’: China’s trade taunts over $1.6bn blow

Jessica Yun
·3-min read
(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

Canberra has been warned to “fully reflect upon and adjust its policy stance towards China” if it wants to avoid further economic blows, according to a new editorial.

China Daily, a state-owned publication, has mounted another attack on Australia off the back of Australian National University research that revealed a steep 61 per cent drop in Chinese investments in Australia last year, the biggest drop in six years.

In a new editorial piece, the publication slammed the Australian Government for adopting “anti-Cina policies” and peddling “widespread anti-China sentiment in Australia”, blaming this for bilateral ties being at its lowest point in years and the reduction in investment.

The ANU research found that Chinese investment in Australia fell from $2.6 billion in 2019 to just over $1 billion in 2020. Four years ago, these figures were as high as $16.5 billion.

“For Australia, the flight of Chinese investment is not a good omen,” the editorial said.

China is by far Australia’s largest trading partner, with Australia exporting $118 billion to the nation, according to Austrade, and is a significant beneficiary of China’s swelling economy.

China threatens to take investments elsewhere

Noting China’s contribution to Australia’s economy, the editorial suggested the Asian superpower would take its investment elsewhere following new or refreshed trade deals with the European Union and New Zealand.

The cold turn in Australia and China’s economic relationship has also come amid growing accusations of racist sentiments, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin yesterday calling Australia to admit it has a racism problem, something that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and senior cabinet ministers have denied.

And during the height of the pandemic, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a statement warning its citizens about a “significant increase” of racist attacks.

“The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia,” it said at the time.

The China Daily editorial argued that Chinese students had “buttressed” Australia’s education sector and would be encouraged to study in Singapore or the United Kingdom instead.

“The significant contraction in both Chinese investments and the number of Chinese students studying in Australia will undoubtedly hurt the Australian economy,” the editorial stated.

One in three Chinese-Australians have had an experience of racism or discrimination in the last 12 months, new Lowy Institute research has revealed, with more than half saying that this has been exacerbated by the state of Sino-Australia relations.

“[Australian society] should not tolerate the Sinophobic sentiment that has poisoned the atmosphere for bilateral cooperation,” the editorial said.

Sino-Australian relations began breaking down after Australia led the call for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

This triggered a trade dispute as the Asian superpower imposed trade restrictions or tariffs on several Australian exports, such as lobster, copper, wine, barley, cotton, and more.

China has snubbed Australia multiple times, with the new Trade Minister Dan Tehan admitting that his Chinese counterpart was not taking his calls.

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