China has taken fresh aim at Australia, accusing it of “stigmatising” and “demonising” the Asian superpower by “associating bilateral ties with political ideologies or geopolitics”.
A new editorial published by China Daily, a publication owned by the Chinese Communist Party, accused Australia of “perceiving [China] to be a threat” by seeing the state “through an ideological prism”.
The editorial took issue with a recent article published by the Sydney Morning Herald that revealed that the Federal Government was considering axing a Victorian research partnership with China’s Jiangsu province.
The program, inked by the Victorian state government in 2015 and renewed in 2019, allows the state’s companies and universities to share intellectual property and create new products with companies from Jiangsu province, SMH reported.
In the article, former senior intelligence analyst for Australia’s department of defence Paul Monk said the agreement should be seen in light of President Xi Jinping’s aim of increasing China’s military power.
“For this deal to be getting promoted by the Chinese government, there is likely to be something we can provide that they want – otherwise they would do it themselves. So we must ask: what [intellectual property] do we bring to the table that they are seeking?”
According to SMH, the agreement is currently under consideration amid a list of programs that could pose a risk to Australia’s national interest.
But the China Daily editorial framed scrutiny on the program as a move of “revenge” from Canberra in response to China’s recent trade bans.
“The bid to scrap the Victoria-Jiangsu Program for Technology and Innovation R&D ... is obviously intended as an act of revenge by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for China's probes into imports from Australia,” the editorial stated.
China has imposed tariffs on several Australian exports, including wine and barley as well as restrictions on coal, lobsters, timber, red meat, and cotton exports, though it has not touched iron ore.
Australia took the dispute to the World Trade Organisation roughly a week ago in order to seek an appeal on the 80 per cent tariffs placed on barley.
Relations between Australia and China have reached its lowest point in history after Australia made the first move to call for an independent inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 which first emerged in Wuhan, China.
The editorial described Monk’s comments as an example of “politicisation of bilateral ties” that have damaged the Australia-China relationship.
“China-Australia relations would not have worsened to the extent they have today had the Australian government not associated bilateral ties with political ideologies or geopolitics with the intention of stigmatising and demonising it,” the article said.
Instead, China wants a “peaceful rise” and “reciprocal and equal relations with all countries,” the editorial claimed.
“Economic cooperation between China and Australia are in the interests of both countries and both peoples. That explains why China has become Australia's largest trade partner.
“However, it seems the current Australian government is unsettled by that.”
Axing the research and development program would be a wrong step in repairing the damaged relationship, the editorial warned.
“Canberra should reconsider.
“It is high time that the Australian government acquired a clear understanding of the nature of Sino-Australian relations. It will otherwise be impossible for it to adopt the right approach to handle bilateral relations with its largest trade partner.”