'STOP DELUDING PEOPLE': China's verbal war with Australia heats up with a new threat to cut iron ore imports
A leading academic has warned that the Morrison Government's combative approach to China's relations could result in a sharp decline in iron ore exports and a "wintry period" for Australia's economy.
Morrison drew ire from China's economic commentators when he referred to Beijing's campaign against Canberra as "economic coercion" in remarks ahead of a G7 summit at which Australia's frosty relationship with the superpower is expected to thaw.
Without mentioning China explicitly, Morrison stated that the "defining issue" he would raise at the G7 meeting would be "the stability that we are currently pursuing."
On Wednesday, a professor and director of the East China Normal University's Australian Studies Centre issued a warning in comments to Beijing's mouthpiece the Global Times.
According to Chen, Australia has "earned a reputation as the vanguard of the US' anti-China campaign, which aims to create a public spectacle and garner support from like-minded Western countries in the G7 group."
“Their collaboration is a sign of their own frailty,” Chen stated.
The Global Times cited Chen's assertion that "Australia can ill afford economic decoupling from China, despite Canberra-initiated tensions between the two countries, and it urgently needs assistance from its Western partners to rewrite the rules of the global economic order in its favor."
Tensions in the economy
Australia-China trade tensions have been simmering for more than a year.
It began when Morrison called for an independent investigation into the origins of coronavirus and introduced legislation prohibiting foreign interference – which resulted in Victoria's Belt and Road deal being terminated.
Beijing responded by imposing tariffs on a wide range of Australian exports, including barley and wine.
Experts previously predicted that the education sector would be the next target, and analysts predicted that trade with China would continue to decline following the indefinite suspension of all activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue in May.
Japan's and Australia's foreign and defense ministers have agreed to bolster their security ties as China becomes more assertive in asserting its claims over disputed areas in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton held online discussions with their Japanese counterparts Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi.
After the talks, Motegi told reporters that the officials expressed their concern about China's activity in the East and South China seas, which he described as a threat to the international community.
Japan regularly expresses concern to China about the presence of its coast guard near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and refers to as Diaoyu.
Chinese vessels routinely violate Japanese territorial waters near the islands, Japanese officials say, sometimes threatening fishing boats.
Japan and China are also at odds over the development of the area's subsea resources.
China's expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea have clashed with those of its neighbors, who accuse Beijing of militarizing one of the world's busiest sea lanes.
Japan and Australia expressed "serious concern" on Wednesday about "recent negative developments and serious incidents in the South China Sea, including the continued militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and'maritime militia,' and efforts to disrupt other countries' resource exploitation activities."
“We reaffirmed our vehement opposition to any unilateral efforts by China to alter the status quo,” Motegi said.
He stated that the four ministers expressed "grave concern" about China's human rights violations in Hong Kong and western Xinjiang, which is home to Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.
China is urged in the statement to "immediately, meaningfully, and unrestricted access to Xinjiang for independent international observers, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights."
Additionally, the meeting reaffirmed the critical nature of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, where China has recently intensified its pressure campaign against the self-ruled island.
Japan and Australia are nearing completion of a defense cooperation agreement that will enable the Japanese Self-Defence Force to protect Australian military assets, Japan's second such arrangement outside of its alliance with the US.