Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday, 18 November 2020


US mocks Beijing's threats against Australia

Phillip Coorey

The US government has mocked a series of threats issued by China to the Morrison government, saying Beijing was effectively demanding that Australia surrender its sovereignty.

The National Security Council, which comprises the US President's principal national security advisors and cabinet officials, took to Twitter after the Chinese embassy in Canberra took the unusual step of listing its grievances with Australia.

"Beijing is upset Australia took steps to expose and thwart Chinese espionage & to protect Aussie sovereignty,'' the NSC tweeted.

"It’s encouraging to see a growing number of countries following Canberra’s lead in taking such steps, which Beijing helpfully lays out here.

"The Chinese Communist Party used to be more subtle in its attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of nations. Their 'Wolf Warrior' diplomacy is back firing; more and more nations worldwide have Australia’s back."

All 14 grievances related to measures Australia has taken to protect her sovereignty and national security, as well as its respect for a free press.

It mentioned legislation to thwart foreign interference and give the Commonwealth the power to veto deals between a foreign power and state and local governments, as well as universities.

Other gripes were stopping Huawei from being part of the 5G network; Australia having a free press; funding for "anti-China" research at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; raids on Chinese journalists and academic visa cancellations; "spearheading a crusade" in multilateral forums on China’s affairs in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang; calling for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19; and blocking 10 Chinese foreign investment deals across infrastructure, agriculture and animal husbandry sectors.

An embassy official warned "China is angry''.

"If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to be cowed.

"We won't be compromising on the fact that we will set what our foreign investment laws are or how we build our 5G telecommunications networks or how we run our systems of protecting against interference Australia’s way we run our country."

"We won't be changing any of that and I can tell you, in that list you would have seen that apparently the media and freely elected politicians apparently aren't allowed to speak their minds.

"We won't be changing that in Australia either. So we'll continue to be ourselves. We will stand up for our national interests but we'll engage with our partners respectively."

Mr Morrison has just returned from a quick trip to Japan where he and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reached in-principle agreement on a mutual defence pact.

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