CHINA has made clear its anger about Australia’s alleged “anti-China” chorus and has suggested it is time for Australia to “think through what kind of relations it really wants with China”.
A clear message was sent to the world on Friday from Australia’s largest trading partner, via its state-controlled news agency Xinhua.
The article made clear China has been this country’s largest trading partner for the past eight years and singled out iron ore, wine, tourism and education as key economic interactions.
It said Australia “cared little” for the burgeoning economic ties “both countries could be proud of”.
It was hardly a veiled threat.
China accused the Australian government of undermining “bilateral political trust” and singled out Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as directly criticising China’s political system, its prospects of development and its foreign policy.
It said: “In March, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said bluntly that China will not reach its full economic potential, if China maintains its current political system.”
It added: “In June, the country's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pointed fingers at China's South China Sea policy.”
National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar was neccessarily cautious about the matter, suggesting the rift was a serious matter for the governments of both countries.
“We must maintain both our diplomacy and our relationship with China,” he said, adding that bilateral relationships experienced ebbs and flows.
Charles Sturt University lecturer Dr Oliver Villar, a political scientist who specialises in international relations and security studies, said Australia was in a particularly tricky situation.
He said the Coalition government, which he regarded as peppered with extremist and outdated elements, was aligning itself with the United States uncritically by “playing the China card” as a means to attack the Australian Labor Party.
Dr Villar suggested this was a frivolous approach to international relations, and one loaded with danger.
As a political analyst Dr Villar said it was interesting to see historically typical tactics employed by an empire in decline, the US, drawing close its allies – the United Kingdom and Australia.
“But even Europe is taking a more neutral approach when it comes to trade,” he said.
He compared the current stoush with the cold war between Russia and the US last century and growing great power rivalries between the US, China and Russia.
He said China was sifting through its Western allies.
Agricultural exports to China were last year worth $9.9 billion – that is more than $400 for every Australian resident in the country.
On Monday night on the ABC’s Q&A panel discussion program, Mr Turnbull dismissed as absurd claims he was anti-Chinese.
“Let me say the suggestion that I or my government or Australia generally is anti-Chinese is outrageous – absolutely outrageous,” he said.