China-Australia relations: Canberra ‘prepared to pay economic price’ of trade dispute with Beijing
- Australia’s ties with China have frayed since 2018, and worsened when it led calls for an independent probe into the origins of coronavirus in Wuhan
- Beijing has responded with a volley of punitive trade actions that have hit commodities from coal to barley, lobsters and wine
Australia is prepared to take the economic hit from China’s trade measures to defend its sovereignty, trade minister Dan Tehan said, even as he pursues efforts to open dialogue with counterparts in Beijing.
“In the end our values are so important to us and we think that they’re something that we have to protect above all else.”
Beijing has responded with a volley of punitive trade actions that have hit commodities from coal to barley, lobsters and wine.
“There is collective action we can all take with regards to dealing with economic coercion,” Tehan said of how best to react.
“I think we do have to look at whether we can develop other tools to deal with it.”
While the US has said it will not leave Australia alone on the field, it has not gone beyond rhetoric so far.
Asked about Australian agriculture losing market share in China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news conference this month: “We will not allow any country to reap benefits from doing business with China while groundlessly accusing and smearing China.”
The US, Australia and other nations this week formally attributed a Microsoft Exchange hack to actors affiliated with the Chinese government and accused Beijing’s leadership of a broad array of “malicious cyber activities”.
Tehan said the response was important because it was not Australia alone, but a group of countries saying that “this activity needs to stop and that there are better ways with which we can engage” with each other.