Beijing has invested heavily in the sale of Australian barley, halted the importation of cattle from many major meat plants, and warned its citizens about visiting or studying in Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he has appointed “his leading men” to work to end the scandal that has seen more than 50 Australian coal ships trapped in Chinese ports, as tensions erupt between trade partners.
More than $ 500 million coal worth Australian coal and about 1,000 crew members on board are stuck after China blocked a wide range of Australian goods and food, among which Morrison described Thursday as “an unusual time” in a relationship.
“We will work with the Chinese government to get the best results possible,” Morrison told Nine Network television. Although he said “there are obviously differences” in the relationship, they will not be “resolved by Australia by surrendering its sovereignty.”
Fixing ties will not be easy: Morrison ministers have not been in direct contact with their counterparts in Beijing since at least April. It was then that Australia increased its existing complaints with China by investigating independent investigators into Wuhan to investigate the origin of the coronavirus.
Along with the banning of Australian coal, Beijing imposed restricted prices on the sale of Australian barley, halted the importation of cattle from several major meat plants, warned its citizens about visiting or studying in Australia and instructed traders to stop buying at least seven items including copper and wine.
China, which said on Wednesday that coal exports had been delayed due to intensified import inspections and inspections, has become commonplace in recent weeks, saying Australia should be blamed for strained relations.
“The cause of the deterioration of bilateral relations is repeated Australian misconduct and statements about China’s interests and deep concern as well as its provocative and controversial actions,” the Chinese ambassador to Canberra said in a statement posted on its website on Monday. “Those who have created problems must be the ones to solve problems.”
Beijing put down that statement this week after Morrison’s speech in which he said Australia did not want to unite China economically, and that China had lifted more people out of poverty than other nations. The Chinese ambassador to Canberra last week handed over to the Australian media a document outlining 14 complaints and accusing the nation of “undermining bilateral relations.”
“China has noted the positive remarks made by Prime Minister Morrison on the global impact of China’s economic growth and poverty alleviation efforts in China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in Beijing on Wednesday. “We hope that Australia will make independent, meaningful, and informed decisions that benefit them.”
Australian Speaker Frances Adamson said in a speech in Canberra on Wednesday night that “China is likely to reach a point where it believes it can set goals for its future engagement with the world.”
“If there is, it is a mistake – and that is because there is so much to be gained in China, and for all other people, by working constructively and cooperatively within the international system, without resorting to pressure or coercion,” said Adamson, secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Morrison wants to create an opposition to what his government sees as China continuing to thrive under the leadership of President Xi Jinping by strengthening multilateral forums of democratically “liberal” democracy in groups like Quad and Five Eyes.
“We really want to have a happy and positive relationship with China,” Morrison said on Thursday, adding that it was “not easy” to travel between China and the US.