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An Unpleasant Trade War: China and Australia

The Chinese and Australian relations have led to their lowest point of relations in decades due to various aspects of their defense, trade, and foreign policy disputes. Things reached a boiling point when a spokesperson for the Chinese government tweeted a doctored image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.  The infuriated Australian Prime Minister demanded an apology which was blatantly refused by Beijing. Instead, Beijing reminded them of the Australian war crimes committed in Afghanistan. 

This wasn’t the only incident, but Australia was also exasperated by China’s assertive foreign policy and excessive military modernization. A turning point was reached when in 2017 Australia was warned of Chinese attempts to influence the elections in Canberra. In 2018, Australia took the huge step to be the first country to ban Chinese company Huawei from their 5G network. Not only this but also 10 Chinese investment deals in the infrastructure and agricultural sector.

China had its reasons to not have a soft corner for the Australians after they participated in the Quad, which was an informal assemble of the United States, India, and Japan. China claimed it was an attempt by the US to create an Asian version of NATO. China was taken aback by an Australian inquiry into the origins of the new coronavirus which originated in Wuhan, China. In response, China curbed beef imports and levied tariffs on Australian barley. It also imposed tariffs on Australian wine and is expected to further impose a ban on sugar, copper ore, lobster, and coal.

With so many tensions going on between the two, it might be fallout for Australia as about 35% of Australia’s total trade, contrary to which Australia counts for only 4% of the Chinese trade. The experts fear a trade war that would take down the Australian economy by at least 6 percent.