Australia-China relations

Australia-China relations pick up: Australia adheres to principles such as human rights and national security, and trade disputes are expected to be eased through dialogue

Australian and Chinese officials have interacted frequently recently, and the trade ministers of the two sides may hold talks within a few weeks. The relationship between the two countries continues to improve. Experts believe that the Labor government still adheres to the principles of human rights and national security when improving relations with China, and China also hopes to resolve trade disputes with Australia through dialogue.

Australia insists that dialogue with China should be based on basic values

Although there are many disputes between Australia and China, the dialogue and visits between officials of the two countries have become more frequent recently, and overall relations continue to warm up.

Wang Shouwen, International Trade Representative and Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce of China attended the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference on March 29 and met with Australian Assistant Trade Minister Tim Ayres. At the meeting, Ailes advocated a “timely and comprehensive resumption of trade” with China.

Ailes is the second ministerial official to visit China after Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s visit to China last December.

In addition, Wang Shouwen held talks with Tim Yeend, Deputy Secretary-General of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Beijing on April 3 to prepare for the meeting between the two trade ministers in the next stage. It is estimated that Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell may Will be visiting Beijing in the next few weeks.

In addition, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng met with Iende at request on April 4. The two sides exchanged views on China-Australia relations and issues of common concern.

Lennon Chang, a professor at the School of Information Technology at Deakin University in Australia, believes that although the relationship between Australia and China has indeed broken after the Labor Party came to power, the future should see more and more dialogue and continuous interaction between officials of the two countries. The possibility of a visit, but the Australian side has always insisted on its position.

Lennon Chang

Zhang Yaozhong told the Voice of America: “When Huang Yingxian went to China to talk with Wang Yi at the end of last year, we saw that she mentioned that she hoped that the arrested Australian (Australian) Chinese Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun could return home as soon as possible. Sensitive issues such as national defense, regional security, and international issues have not been avoided. Therefore, I think that dialogue between Australia and China is not a bad thing, but it depends on whether these dialogues can be based on the basic values ​​​​of human rights, freedom, and equality.”

Zhang Yaozhong said that no matter which political party is in power in Australia, basic values ​​such as national and regional security and human rights will not be compromised because of business needs.

Read also: The Foreign Minister of Honduras Leads a Delegation to Visit China and Taiwan to Express Strong Dissatisfaction and Immediately Recall the Ambassador to Hong

James Laurenceson, dean of the Institute of Australia-China Relations at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), said in an interview with Voice of America that the ongoing high-level dialogue will help resolve some of the obstacles created by the Morrison government in the past, especially The Labor government will not regard national security issues as an absolute policy influence factor.

Luo Zhen said: “I found that the United States almost regards national security considerations as the core of rationalizing any decision-making. Relatively speaking, I think Australia is more cautious when dealing with national security factors in decision-making. The Australian government will indeed make decisions based on national security considerations. Some Chinese investment proposals are rejected, but generally speaking, Canberra weighs national security factors less than Washington in making decisions.” Luo Lijia, a researcher at the Center for Deliberative Democracy and Global

Governance at the University of Canberra in Australia said that compared with Murray The Sen government adopts a tough attitude towards China, and the current Labor government adopts a more cautious attitude towards many international issues, replacing lectures with listening, and focusing on reducing conflicts. Not much difference.

Luo Lijia told Voice of America: “We see some of the measures Huang Yingxian is making now. On the one hand, she hopes to restore the trade relationship between Australia and China, but on the other hand, she has not completely let go of AUKUS (Okus). This has caused people like Keating and other past leaders of the Labor Party have greatly rebounded. It means that the Labor Party government prefers to maintain a good trade relationship and hopes to reduce the potential military conflicts between the two sides. But the key is that when the tipping point occurs, the Labor Party may split inside.”

Luo Lijia pointed out that the moment when Australia-China relations dropped to a freezing point was Australia’s request to investigate the origin of the new crown virus, and this request is the consensus of all parties in Australia, including Huang Yingxian’s support.

Australia-China trade dispute expected to be resolved through dialogue

Since 2020, China has imposed high tariffs, unofficial bans, and other restrictions on a series of Australian export commodities. In December 2020, Australia filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the barley tariff dispute.

The WTO ruling is likely to be made public within weeks, and China and Australia have already received the WTO report.

Luo Zhen, dean of the Institute of Australia-China Relations at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), pointed out that in the current situation in which Beijing is gradually resuming imports of Australian goods, the lifting of trade sanctions will be smooth. For example, coal mines and cotton have passed through Chinese ports again. The trend should extend to commodities such as lobster, even ones at issue at the WTO.

Luo Zhen said: “The status of these two commodities, barley and wine, is more difficult to predict because they are currently disputed cases in the WTO. Even so, both Australia and China have expressed their willingness to resolve disputes through dialogue and bilateral communication, rather than Uphold the WTO ruling.”

Luo Lijia, an expert on Australia-China relations, said that Australia’s agriculture has been greatly impacted by China’s trade sanctions, but the impact has not spread to the entire Australian economy.

He said: “If we look back at the trade penalties imposed by China on Australia (Australia), in fact, they did not achieve the desired effect. On the one hand, the overall trade volume between Australia and China is not bad, and on the other hand On the one hand, Australia has actually developed new trading partners and expanded the domestic demand market in the process. China probably knows about this part. As the relationship between Australia and China is slowly warming up, I personally think that China has more reasons to reduce or It’s lifting these trade sanctions.”

Luo Lijia believes that China also hopes that Australia-China relations can develop in a better direction, so it may try to find a way to coordinate a plan acceptable to both sides before the WTO ruling comes out.

Neither AUKUS nor Douyin ban will affect relationship repair

Australian Assistant Trade Minister Ayres said in an interview with the Guardian on March 31 that the US-UK-Australia security alliance AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine program to be established in 2021 will not have a negative impact on the direction of stable relations between Australia and China.

Zhang Yaozhong, a professor at the School of Information Technology at Deakin University in Australia, pointed out that Australia’s plan to purchase nuclear submarines existed before the establishment of AUKUS, and China will not slow down the restoration of relations with Australia.

He said: “AUKUS has not specifically stated that it is targeting China since its establishment, although we all know that its goal is very clear. It only says that it is to maintain regional security. Of course, China will not jump out and admit that it is China that caused regional security problems. In itself, it can only say that such a military alliance will cause regional tension, or that the manufacture of nuclear submarines will become an arms race and other roundabout statements.” Luo Lijia, a researcher at the Center for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra in Australia, believes that AUKUS has a significant impact on the current situation in Australia. The relationship between China and China has little impact, but it may make Australia have to give China some benefits.

He said: “Of course, China is dissatisfied with AUKUS. In fact, many people think that this dissatisfaction is actually in the calculation of the current ruling party. The Labor Party government is of course arguing that the decision of AUKUS was made by the previous government. The blame was given to the previous government. We don’t know whether China really accepts this reason, but some people speculate whether Australia has released some benefits in the process, such as supporting China’s accession to the CPTPP.”

When asked by the Guardian whether the meeting with Wang Shouwen discussed the CPTPP, Ailes kept his mouth shut.

On the other hand, Canberra said on April 3 that it would ban Tik Tok on government devices. In response, China’s Ministry of Commerce issued a statement on April 7 stating that Australia imposed a “discriminatory” ban on TikTok.

Luo Zhen, director of the Institute of Australia-China Relations at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), believes that the ban on the use of Douyin on government equipment will not have any impact on the repair of bilateral relations between Australia and China.

He said: “This is not a very serious problem. After all, it is only prohibited to be used on government agencies’ devices, which has no impact on the overall usage of Douyin. Besides, Australia and China now have quite high expectations for each other. , will not change tactics for such a small thing. What is more interesting to me is that Canberra said it will not impose a broader ban. I think when Beijing decided to restore friendly relations with Canberra last May, it was already Factors related to the ban have been considered.”

Luo Zhen said that Australia was the last country in the Five Eyes alliance to join the ban on Douyin, which represented a big difference in the policies towards China between the Labor Party government and the previous Morrison government.

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