Chinese state media labels Australia ‘the dog of the United States’: China hits back at Australia with crippling trade tariffs as tensions heat up over coronavirus investigation. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has urged China to clarify if it is preparing a “hit list” of Aussie exports to punish Australian farmers.
The demand for answers follows China’s latest barb in an exchange of bizarre insults over escalating trade tensions, branding Australia as looking like a “giant kangaroo that acts as the dog of the US”.
Amid reports from the news agency Bloomberg today that wine, seafood, oats, fruit and dairy exports could face stricter quality checks, delayed customs clearances, antidumping probes or consumer boycotts, Senator Birmingham said this was a matter for China. “This is an unsourced claim for Chinese authorities to respond to,’’ he told news.com.au
“Australia notes recent from Chinese spokespeople emphasising the mutual benefits that flow from our trading relationship. We share those sentiments and will continue to work with China to uphold the commitments we both made under CHAFTA.”
China remains Australia’s biggest export partner in the world and any further escalation of trade tensions could be devastating for Australian farmers, after barley exporters were hit with punitive tariffs this week.
Bloomberg’s report suggested that China is preparing a list of potential Australian imports including seafood, oatmeal and fruit that could be subject to stricter quality checks, anti-dumping probes, tariffs or customs delays. The report also predicted that state media could also encourage consumer boycotts of popular Australian brands.
Stung by claims that international pressure forced China to back an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, Communist officials have gone on the offensive, insisting that the final probe agreed to was completely different from the independent probe Australia had sought.
Now the Global Times newspaper, widely regarded as the mouthpiece of the Chinese Government has escalated the war of words quoting anonymous “Nietzens” or citizens of the internet comparing Australia to “dog” of the US President Donald Trump.
“Some Chinese netizens also mocked Australia’s attempts as it has been trying to become a ‘martyr’ for defending so-called independence and transparency while its ideas were denounced by the global community,’’ it said.
“By following the steps of some US hawks who harshly attack China over coronavirus, ‘it seems that Australia, this giant kangaroo that serves as a dog of the US, will hit a deadlock with China on trade disputes in sectors like coal and beef. Hopefully, the US will compensate it!’ one netizen said in a Weibo post on Tuesday.”
“We suggest the Australia side to go through the text carefully,” Zhao said. “If Australia is willing to change its course and give up the political manipulation of the pandemic, we will welcome that.” It was a message echoed in China’s Global Times, which has also attempted to claim in recent days that the coronavirus could have been spread in the United States, weeks before the Wuhan outbreak.
“The US, Australia and the island of Taiwan have become the largest losers at this year’s WHA meeting, as they were either isolated or abandoned by the global community for continuing to politicise the pandemic and diverting the joint efforts in fighting this battle,’’ it said.
“The resolution also called for the use of existing mechanisms to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-co-ordinated international health response to COVID-19. However, this initiative has been misinterpreted by some Western politicians and media outlets as being a probe into China’s initial handling of the outbreak, first hyped up by countries like Australia.
“The US has become the biggest loser for being isolated and marginalised, reflecting its failure in global governance, some Chinese analysts said, noting that such incompetence was amplified after it failed to besiege China at the WHO with the help of two of its biggest pawns - Australia and the island of Taiwan.
“The third loser was Australia, which has been actively pushing for a so-called independent inquiry into the origins of the crisis in recent days, aimed at China. Australia’s act was widely believed to be instigated by Washington. Some Australian politicians, including Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, have been in a bullish mood, as some media reports said, in criticising China for its lack of transparency, and vowed to stand up for their values.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said today Australia also wanted real steps forward on independent inspection capabilities. “These capabilities are very important for early identification of risk, of new forms of transmission. And to discover the source. And of this or other outbreaks around the world,’’ he said. “So I am both confident and hopeful that, going forward, this resolution will represent a transformative moment in international disease detection and discovery, going forward.”
Australia has also raised concerns today over “unacceptable malicious cyber activity” by an unnamed country believed to be exploiting the pandemic, but stressed the activity was “outside of Australia.” In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said today the Australian Government was concerned that malicious cyber actors are seeking to exploit the pandemic for their own gain.
“Of particular concern are reports that malicious cyber actors are seeking to damage or impair the operation of hospitals, medical services and facilities, and crisis response organisations outside of Australia,’’ it said.
“Countries have agreed at the United Nations that existing international law applies in cyberspace. Countries have also agreed that it is contrary to norms of responsible state behaviour to use cyber tools to intentionally damage or impair critical infrastructure providing services to the public,” said Australia’s Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, Dr Tobias Feakin.
“Countries have also agreed to co-operate to address cybercrime and not to knowingly allow their territory to be used for internationally wrongful acts.” While the statement does not name China, it is widely seen as being aimed at the Communist regime.
Chinese state media has continued its attack on Australia, using a cartoon to accuse Scott Morrison’s government of being a “yes man” to the US. On Monday, the China Daily, controlled by the Communist Party of China, re-shared a damning cartoon created last week which depicts Australia taking orders from the US to launch an attack on China, through a reference to the well-known story of Don Quixote.
Captioned ‘Yes man to one, liar to all’ on Twitter, renowned cartoonist Luo Jie illustrated Australia as Quixote’s loyal servant Sancho Panza, riding a donkey and taking orders from the US depicted as the mad knight as he charges towards a windmill, representing China.
The cartoon references The Ingenious Knight of La Mancha, a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes, first published in the 1600s, which tells the story of a nobleman who goes mad after reading too many stories about chivalrous deeds and starts to fight imagined foes. The story’s hero imagines himself fighting giants when he attacks windmills, which is the source of the expression “tilting at windmills”, meaning fighting imaginary enemies.
The publication’s decision to share the cartoon comes after more than a dozen Australian politicians raised concerns alongside other world leaders over China’s new security laws for Hong Kong, which pro-democracy lawmakers in the special administrative region called the end of the “one country, two systems” principle adopted after it was handed over to China from the UK in 1997.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said Australia was “deeply concerned” over the move, a statement that came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Beijing to “reconsider its disastrous proposal”.
China has become increasingly frustrated with Australia’s vocal stance on matters the US have attacked China over, notably the call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Another Chinese publication highly critical of Australia in recent weeks, The Global Times, published last week social media comments labelling Australia “the dog of the US”.