Chinese Diplomat Signals No Thaw in Icy Ties with Australia

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A Chinese diplomat has indicated there will be no immediate thaw in Beijing’s relationship with Australia, which has seen ministerial-level ties frozen for a year and trade reprisals against Australian exports.

“Our policy toward Australia has been consistent all the way,” Wang Xining, the Chinese Embassy’s deputy head of mission, told reporters Wednesday in Canberra. “We have done nothing intentionally to hurt this relationship, and we have seen too many incidents over the past few years in which China’s interest has been hurt.”

Asked what Australia could do to repair ties, Wang said it should respect sovereignty and “refrain from interfering in others’ internal affairs,” avoid vetoing Chinese investments in Australia and not “obstruct people-to-people exchange programs.”

“It is very simple -- as long as the Australian side will be able to do that, I don’t see any obstacle to the resumption of a normal state of our relationship,” he said.

The heated geopolitical tensions -- sparked by Australia’s decision in 2018 to block Huawei Technologies Co. from building the country’s 5G network, and escalated by its call for independent investigators to enter Wuhan to probe the origins of the coronavirus -- have spilled over into a series of trade reprisals from Beijing. China has taken aim at a range of Australian products, including coal, wine and barley.

There have been no new trade hits this year, but Wang’s comments suggest the relationship has yet to reach a thaw. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously signaled his government wouldn’t bow to Beijing’s demands.

Morrison joined the leaders of the U.S., India and Japan last month for the first meeting of the so-called Quad, a group seeking ways to counter China’s growing influence.

Wang expressed anger at Australia’s Huawei move, which was followed by other nations including the U.S.

“Australia was the first to ban Huawei in domestic telecom-industry building, and then Australia even persuaded others to follow suit,” he said. “I think Australia connived with the United States in a very unethical, illegal, immoral suppression of Chinese companies.”

In an apparent swipe at governments, companies and industries making money off of China but not following Beijing’s line on certain issues, he said: “China is not a cow. I don’t think anybody should fancy the idea to milk China when she’s in her prime and plot to slaughter it in the end.”

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