Chinese state media has issued a warning to Australia that the two nations could be embroiled in a lengthy feud if it continues to follow in the footsteps of the United States in “hyping-up of anti-China rhetoric”.
The Global Times, the state-run mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China which has been highly critical of Australia in recent months, published a lengthy opinion piece on Monday (local time) saying “anti-China hawks” had ramped up their agenda against Beijing.
“There is a growing trend in Australia that does not tolerate rational voices toward China,” it said.
Compiled following an interview with Yu Lei, a research fellow at the Australian Studies Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University, the article accused Australia of “emulating” the US as it “continues to find fault with China”.
“The hyping-up of anti-China rhetoric in Australia has transmitted a dangerous message. It is very problematic for a society to squeeze out room for rational, neutral, and objective words and ideas,” it said.
“This is very risky.”
Relations have rapidly deteriorated since Prime Minister Scott Morrison led calls for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, angering Beijing who accused Canberra of politicising the pandemic.
In retaliation key members of the Chinese government threatened economic sanctions which appeared to materialise in the shape of tariffs slapped on agricultural imports, while the education and tourism sectors were spooked when China warned its nationals not to travel to Australia over a rise in racist attacks.
Concern is growing in Australia due to its heavy reliance on China when it comes to trade, with Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles lambasting the federal government last month over the strained relationship.
“Trade is the foundation of Australia's nationhood. If there is no international trade, Australia cannot survive,” The Global Times said.
“However, there is a ‘toxic climate’ in Australia, in which business attempts to bridge differences with China to safeguard Australia's interests will be labeled as pro-China.”
China aware of its own dependance
The Global Times said while Australia is wary of how much it depends economically on China, China itself must become more independent if a turbulent relationship is to continue.
“On the one hand, China needs to reduce its relatively high reliance on Australia in areas such as iron ore imports; while on the other, we need to be prepared for the reality that our relations with Canberra will probably be on a long-term bumpy trajectory,” it said.
Australia and China have clashed on a series of issues in recent months, including China’s operations in the South China Sea and the introduction of national security laws in Hong Kong.
On Monday (local time), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters a statement from Australia and its Five Eyes counterparts calling on China to not undermine the democratic process in Hong Kong and allow elections to go ahead is “deplored and “rejected”.
“It is typical double standards that the Five Eyes chose to interpret the Hong Kong SAR government's decision in a twisted political way,” he said.
“Hong Kong is China's special administrative region and its Legislative Council election is China's local election and purely Hong Kong's internal affair. No foreign government, organisation or individual has any right or reason to interfere.”
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