Chinese state media has issued Australia with a stark post-US election warning, telling Canberra it risks permanently destroying its ties with China if relations continue on their current trajectory.
Australia has enjoyed a strong relationship with the US during Donald Trump’s presidency, with both nations taking a firm stance on China, particularly seeking answers to the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and a perceived increase in coercion from Beijing.
However, Australia’s position as one of Washington’s favoured allies is up in the air under president-elect Joe Biden’s leadership, with a China Daily editorial urging Australia to think carefully about its next steps.
The editorial led a scathing attack on the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which has faced repeated criticism from Chinese state media over its focus on the growth of China’s coercive diplomacy in Australia.
On Monday, it accused the defence think tank of fabricating its latest China-related report on cyber-enabled foreign interference during elections which is “nothing but lies, ideological bias and stigmatisation”.
China Daily urged Australia to reconsider allowing such “scaremongering” in a way that “increasingly echoes that of the US”.
“As the dust is now settling on the US presidential election, Australia is facing a new opportunity to choose the trajectory of its ties with China,” the editorial said.
“It has a choice between allowing such anti-China organisations to continue to hold bilateral ties hostage or it can ignore their manipulations and seek to fix bilateral ties.
“The ball is in Canberra's court.”
Australia could ‘terminally erode bilateral mutual trust’
Chinese media has ramped up its pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares to lose the backing of Trump on a series of matters involving China.
In a disturbing ultimatum, the Communist Party mouthpiece said if Australia continued to allow China-Australian ties to deteriorate, it could have devastating and permanent consequences.
“The current souring of bilateral relations, if unchecked, could squander what has been achieved so far in bilateral cooperation and terminally erode bilateral mutual trust,” it said.
On Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin called on the Australian government to “do more” to restore a favourable China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership.
China-Australian relations have once again come under the spotlight this month as reports of further Australian exports being shunned by China.
Beijing is increasingly targeting multi-billion dollar Australian industries including wine, beef and grain as diplomatic tensions sour, fuelled by what the Chinese Foreign Ministry label as “interference” into internal matters including Taiwan, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
Months earlier, Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye warned of such economic sanctions after Mr Morrison’s calls for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak. He was one of the first world leaders to do so, angering Beijing who said the prime minister’s calls were politically-motivated.
China Daily once again reminded Australia of its reliance on the China’s spending power.
“China is now Australia's biggest trading partner, a crucial source of foreign investment and major source of tourists and overseas students,” it said.
In the months after Mr Morrison’s calls, China officially warned its residents to reconsider studying and overseas travel in Australia due to a rise in Sinophobic attacks.
Mr Morrison branded such claims as “rubbish”, continuing his strong stance against Beijing.
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