The Chinese government has threatened to go after Australia’s wine and beef industries.
The Chinese government has threatened to go after Australia’s wine and beef industries.

’Australia will pay for its arrogance’

THE Chinese government has warned it could cut Australian imports by billions of dollars.

The state-run Global Times newspaper issued a lengthy editorial today slamming the nation, saying: "It is necessary for China to leave Australia hanging for a while, instead of being too quick to bury the hatchet whenever Canberra tries to put a smile on its face."

The article said it was time to "make Australia pay for its arrogant attitudes it has revealed toward China over the past two years".

It threatened trade reductions to harm the Australian economy, noting wine and beef as items that can "easily" be replaced with the products from the US.

Australia has taken a notably warmer tone towards Beijing this past week, following months of strain over the introduction of foreign interference laws.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo heaped praise on the rising superpower at a conference in Shanghai last week, describing China as a "true global giant" and saying Sino-Australian relations had developed into "something more", according to The Australian.

Yesterday Foreign Minister Julie Bishop trumpeted her recent meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi as "warm, candid and constructive", saying she "gets along very well" with Mr Yi.

Julie Bishop was all smiles after meeting with Wang Yi, but he gave a different account.
Julie Bishop was all smiles after meeting with Wang Yi, but he gave a different account.

But Mr Yi gave a less amicable description of the encounter.

In a Foreign Ministry statement, he said: "Due to the Australian side, China and Australia are encountering difficulties in the relationship, and communications and co-operation have been affected recently."

He added: "What I want to emphasise is, if Australia really hopes the relationship to return to the right track and develop in a healthy way, Australia must get rid of traditional thinking, put down their coloured glasses and see China's development in a more positive perspective."

A recent truce in the US-China trade war has been announced, with reports US beef will be a key beneficiary for Chinese consumers.

"Metal ore is Australia's major export to China. As long as China is in need of the metal exports, and a replacement remains difficult to find, they will continue to import them. But when it comes to wine and beef, China can easily import those items from the US, replacing Australia," the editorial says.

"The scope of import reductions could be limited. Last year, Australia exported $76.45 billion in goods to China. Lowering Aussie exports by $6.45 billion would send cold chills up and down the spine of Australia. Of course, it would be an even greater shock if the import reductions totalled $10 billion.

"China has been very friendly toward Australia, but their arrogant attitudes in return over the past two years have become a virtual example of what it means to 'bite the hand that feeds'."

The editorial also flagged the South China Sea and "ideological issues" as sources of tension.

Last year, the Chinese government imposed a temporary ban on Australian beef imports, over what the Turnbull Government said was labelling noncompliance.

The ban, which the ABC said cost beef exporters a $1 million a day, was lifted after three months of negotiations.


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