The Morrison Government has been accused of “burning bridges” with China and of political collusion with the United States.
In its latest editorial, Chinese state-owned publication China Daily attacked Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government and said the damaged relations between the two countries was Canberra’s own fault.
“The Scott Morrison administration is still intent on holding to its mischarted course,” the editorial stated.
At a time when the economy is being rocked by extended lockdowns, Australia cannot afford to have a bad relationship with its largest trading partner, it suggested.
The piece was published just hours after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned local businesses to brace for more trade blows from China.
“Heightened strategic competition is the new reality we face,” Frydenberg said at a forum on Monday. “Now and likely into the future. Our task is to prepare for and manage this competition.”
But China Daily claimed Frydenberg’s remarks should be understood as Australia’s “strategic miscalculation” of being a “blind follower of the United States”.
The US and China have become increasingly wary of each other as the Asian superpower grows its economy and flexes its military might, and America’s once dominant position on the global stage is called into question.
China has made it clear it perceives Australia as politically ‘taking sides’ with the United States.
“The Morrison administration should stop playing the jackal to the tiger as the US attempts to harm China's core interests and interfere in China's internal affairs,” the editorial said.
Fydenberg’s fears are unfounded, it claimed, noting that Australian exports to China had risen to new heights.
Indeed, China imported $39 billion in iron ore in the month of August, according to Bloomberg, which is a record high.
But China Daily accused the Morrison government for having “imaginary fears of China … making it scared of its shadows”.
China Daily targets PM
In a direct attack on the Prime Minister, the piece claimed Australia had “wholeheartedly followed the US in its political game against China” ever since Morrison took office in 2018.
China Daily claimed Australia had now “corner[ed] itself into an extremely awkward position” and is “harming political ties with its largest trade partner” with no alternative.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner by far and accounts for nearly a third of total exports overseas.
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Chinese-owned English publications China Daily and Global Times are widely viewed as mouthpieces for the Chinese government and regularly publish provocative editorial pieces criticising other countries.
The two publications have ramped up attacks against Canberra in recent months ever since Australia-China relations became icy after Huawei was banned from rolling out 5G in Australia and Canberra led the push for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.
Beijing has dealt trade blows on some Australian export industries by imposing sanctions on items like barley, wine, copper, coal, lobster, and more.