What does Australia have with China?

Warning to Germany: The case of Australia shows China's unscrupulousness

  • China refuses to accept criticism from outside. This is also shown by the case of Australia, which should be instructive for Germany.
  • In recent months, Australia has called for an international investigation into the origin of the corona pandemic as it doubts China's version. In addition, it banned the Chinese company Huawei from setting up the 5G network in the country.
  • China responded with a trade dispute that escalated month after month. Punitive tariffs on beef, coal, copper and barley were now followed by more on Australian wine. That is having an effect.

Woe to anyone who openly criticizes China's state power. He is currently realizing very quickly and painfully that China is reluctant to be taught. This is all the more true when the criticism comes from the West, which practically degraded the proud country to a colony in the 19th century. A national humiliation that Beijing has not forgotten.

The case of Hong Kong is well known: for years, pro-democratic forces have been calling for their semi-autonomous city to be separated from China. Beijing does not allow this, a new security law has been in force for months that criminalizes calls for freedom and democracy - several activists have already been arrested and brought to justice.

A signal to other countries too. Just like the case of Australia.

How did the corona pandemic come about? Australia doubts China's version

Germany in particular should look to this. After all, Australia is not a city that has been part of the People's Republic since 1997, but a sovereign country, indeed a “strategic partner” of Germany.

Relations between Australia and China have deteriorated noticeably over the past two years. For example, the government in Canberra banned the Chinese technology group Huawei from setting up a 5G network in Australia.

Beijing is also angry that the Australian government demanded an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, which spread worldwide from the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, in the spring. Australia's Conservative government dared to call for an international investigation into Chinese crisis management in the corona pandemic in April.

It is undisputed that the disaster began in Wuhan, China. There is also a broad consensus in the West that China initially covered up the outbreak, silenced critics and only then ordered drastic quarantine measures after the virus had long since spread beyond the city limits of Wuhan.

China stops imports of Australian wine

China's regime apparently fears that an international investigation could find evidence that would expose Beijing's management of the crisis. In any case, it refuses to let independent investigators into the country. And who, like Australia, demands this anyway? It has to deal with an angry and punitive China, which is well aware of its power as the second largest economy in the world.

First, China stopped importing Australian beef. Then China's ambassador threatened to boycott Australian universities. Tens of thousands of Chinese are currently studying in Australia. Your tuition fees are an important source of income for Australian universities. Without this money, some institutions run the risk of financial hardship.

And China has stepped up in recent months with trade restrictions for coal, copper, barley - and now also punitive tariffs on the import of Australian wines into the People's Republic. The tariffs temporarily imposed by the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing are said to be between 107.1 percent and 212.1 percent, depending on the product, and will come into force on Saturday.

The People's Republic is the largest sales market for Australian wine exports and overall the most important trading partner for the fifth continent. Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the Canberra government was extremely disappointed with the decision. This is a "seriously worrying development" that Australia will fight vigorously. "The Australian government categorically denies any allegations that our wine producers are dumping products into China, and we continue to believe that there is no basis or evidence for such claims."

The diplomatic conflict escalated even further when a few days ago Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, posted an apparently edited picture of an Australian soldier holding a knife to a child's neck on Twitter. He wrote: "Do not worry, we come to bring you peace".

The background to the post is a recent report by the Australian Army on war crimes committed by their soldiers in the Afghanistan mission. Members of an elite unit are said to have killed at least 39 Afghan civilians.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked China to apologize for Lijan's tweet. This is “really repulsive”: “It is absolutely monstrous and cannot be justified by anything. The Chinese government should be deeply ashamed of this post. It diminishes their reputation in the world. "

Australia isn't the first country to feel China's anger

But China refused to apologize for the tweet - and the country's deterrent campaign against Australia is having an impact. At the annual meeting of the responsible World Health Organization (WHO), Australia's proposal for an independent investigation into the origin of the corona pandemic did not even come to the vote. A severely weakened paper was resolved. Accordingly, the WHO only undertakes to “identify the source of the infection” and trace the transmission to humans. Not a word about an independent investigation, China or Wuhan.

Read also: China tough: In the shadow of Corona, Beijing has just skilfully played Trump - and secured even more power

Australia isn't the first country to feel China's tail. In 2012, the then British Prime Minister David Cameron invited the Dalai Lama, symbol of the Tibetan disengagement from China, to his home. Thereupon the People's Republic of Great Britain kept cold until Cameron publicly distanced himself from the Dalai Lama.

Also read: China does not tolerate instruction from outside - these countries learned that the hard way

At the end of 2018, a Canadian court arrested the prominent finance director of the tech giant Huawei for alleged violations of sanctions. Thereupon Beijing obviously retaliated and in turn threw two Canadian citizens in prison, allegedly for "endangering the security of the state". The Canadian government called the arrest "arbitrary". The two Canadians are still in custody today, with no date for trial or release.

China is Germany's most important trading partner

In early October 2019, a manager of the US basketball league NBA shared a Twitter message with the words, “Fight for freedom. Stand by Hong Kong ”. Chinese state television promptly canceled the broadcast of two NBA games, major Chinese sponsors withdrew and disappeared NBA merchandise from Chinese websites. The manager quickly apologized.

From a German point of view, the case of Australia should be so instructive because both countries maintain close economic ties with China. China is by far Australia's most important trading partner. A third of all Australian exports go to the People's Republic - including coveted raw materials such as iron ore, coal, gas and gold.

The People's Republic is also the number one trading partner for Germany. The Chinese market plays a major role, especially for Germany's auto industry. If Germany were to be too critical of China, for example openly taking the side of the Hong Kong demonstrators, Beijing would have enough opportunities to wedge back. In this respect, there should also be a warning from Beijing to Germany in the case of Australia: Don't mess with China!

China is not to be trifled with - these global brands found this out the hard way

China is not to be trifled with - these global brands found this out the hard way

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With material from the dpa