/ 08 July 2021

Taking sides in the China fight

China has levelled “economic punishment” at our exporters over the last year to get back at the Australian Government for “smearing” it. It was an extraordinary admission made by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday night in response to a media question about the fall in our agricultural exports. “We will not allow any country to reap benefits from doing business with China while groundlessly accusing and smearing China and undermining China’s core interests based on ideology,” he said. Which at least drops the pretence that our exporters have breached the rules or had quality issues… Zhao added that Australia has acted as “a cat’s paw for others” – a reference to our relationship with the US, and a “crude” attempt to tear us apart, Aussie officials said.

Never. Well, maybe one day – we were channelling INXS for a second… But not right now, anyway. And we know that because as Zhao was delivering his press conference, the White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell said it was clear China is trying to “cut Australia out of the herd”, but America is “not going to leave Australia on the field”. And China’s move has backfired because there’s “a deepening, intensifying relationship between Canberra and Washington,” he said.

Commitment phobes? Which is not a category Australia falls into. And neither does Japan, which yesterday declared a preference for the US over China. After years of walking a fine diplomatic line, Japan’s Deputy PM Taro Aso said it would join the US in defending Taiwan if China tried to take it by force. Japan would see that as an “existential threat” that could leave its own territory vulnerable, he said. In recent months, China has not ruled out “reunifying” Taiwan with the mainland by force – a potential flashpoint that experts say could draw the US – and Japan – into a conflict between the superpowers. Where’s Chinese President Xi Jinping in all of this, you ask? Talking to his mates from 160 nations to help them “adjust more quickly to the rise of China,” a spokesman said.

Want to know more about the Taiwan thing? #SquizShortcut

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