For years, the Australian political and business establishment had a paramount goal: protect and expand booming exports to fast-growing China. However, with coronavirus, things appear to have changed. The relationship is no longer shaped just by trade, but by a stark view emerging widely inside this continent-spanning country – that Beijing poses a threat to Australia’s democracy and national sovereignty.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Australian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said about this shift: “Our relationship with China is vitally important.
“We have got about 30 + percent of activity with China, it is a major exporter.
“That being said, Australia was at the forefront of the world community asking for an inquiry into the coronavirus.
“Indicating that there were issues as far as Australia was concerned to get to the bottom of what happened, how it happened, why it happened.
“And I think that’s a reasonable request to have made.
“That has occasioned some push backs by the Chinese authorities.”
He explained: “Now we find that our barley exports have huge tariffs placed on them.
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“Our wine exports are now being subjected to an allegation that we are dumping our premium wines in China.
“There has also been a fairly belligerent, I’ll use that term deliberately, National Press Club address by the deputy ambassador from China.”
At the end of August, one of China’s most senior diplomats refused to say the coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan, while accusing the Australian Government of damaging the relationship between the two countries with calls for an independent investigation into the virus.
Wang Xining said at the National Press Club: “We believe this proposal was targeted against China alone, because during that time Australian ministers claimed that the virus originated from Wuhan, from China, and they did not pinpoint any other places as a possible source.
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“We don’t think it was fair.”
Mr Abetz added: “So the relationship is being tested at the moment… when it comes to Australia’s pursuit of transparency in relation to coronavirus but also human rights matters.
“And that concerns what we have been doing on the military front with the South China Sea islands.”