The bilateral train wreck

Time for Australia to wake up to the collateral damage of US containment policy on China

5 August 2021 | CCCA

The Australia-China trade war has been running since its beginning on 28 Feb 2020, and it is time to take another look at the collateral damages resulting from a frozen Australia-China relations from Asian writers.  According to the South China Morning Post report by Su-Lin Tan, “China-Australia relations plunging wine exports don’t spell gloom, but new market crucial”, the   total cost of China’s anti-dumping measures to Australia could reach A$2.4 billion over five-year period. 

The Australia’s wine industry must find alternative destination for wine that is not going to China amid protectionist duties.  Only 60% of Australia’s lost wine exports to China will be redirected to existing markets by 2025 unless Australia expends more effort in finding new markets.  A timeline of the Australia-China trade war starting from 28 February 2020 to 18 June 2021 can be found in this article. 

There has been speculation that Australian wines may be heading for Taiwan but with a population of 24 million, how much can they drink compared to the huge market with many times of consumers in China?

We are only talking about wine industry here. There are other industries aplenty, going to be affected such agriculture , fishery, tourism, education, mining , medical and science researches etc .Australian Government whoever is happened to be in charge in near future, will be having a lot of headaches to deal with when mounting unemployment and crises, coming from these industries , start to haunt them.

Sadly, if these sentiments reflected toxic geopolitics, media sensationalism, opportunistic politicians and plain old racism contribute to scapegoating, could have been avoided in the first place, started from the Trump era of course. Is it too late? 

A third article in the SCMP, by Richard Desjardins, “How Canada became collateral damage in US China battle for the upper hand”. It states, “Meng Wenzhou’s arrest in Canada at the US’ request was not only a flashpoint in the deteriorating US-China relationship.  It also touched off divisions within Canada on how the country – traditionally a US ally – ought to conduct its foreign policy amid China’s rise” (29 July 2021) 

As the China-US relationship faces major headwinds due to unilateral actions on each side, it appears lost on both countries that their respective allies have become collateral damage. As they build coalitions to support their respective positions, they may end up isolating themselves from the wider international community

A reader comment (from Anthony P) read, “Biden is unable to reverse Trump’s China containment policy for domestic reasons – to put a lid on the rise of the Republicans in Congress as well as a resurrected Trump.  Canada, like Australia, has taken a great ride on the back of the American tiger and is unable to get off!  Not only were the European allies uncommitted on China containment, the ASEAN countries are doing the same. but better at maintaining friends with the 2 superpowers.  This article also applies to Australia (if we swap Canada for Australia throughout the text), it would still be relevant.  The Tianjin summit, despite its unfavourable reports, should be seen optimistically as continuing diplomatic talks is a pre-requisite for peace and prosperity. President Biden reported statement of wanting to avoid a conflict with China is itself an olive branch. “

Let’s hope the 2nd US-China summit can bring a face-to-face meeting between President Biden and President Xi of China.  With both leaders in conversation, the world will be a safer place to live in.

Finally, we also hope Australian Government will wake up, being a collateral damage partner of US, to assist and help to broker peace between US-CHINA before it falls apart first. Is it too late? No, it is not. Action speaks louder than voice.

This commentary is supplied by the Chinese Community Council of Australia Incorporated: Founding President, Dr Anthony Pun OAM, President, Mr Kingsley Liu. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.

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