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Ties with the two states have become increasingly strained over the last months due to the removal of Huawei from Australia’s 5G network, and calls for an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus. In a piece in the state-run Global Times, China also reiterated the claim that Australia could become the “trash” of Asia. It said: “Indeed, further decoupling with China will not send China back to poverty, but will only make former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s famous statement more likely to come true: that if Australia doesn’t open up its economy and reduce unemployment, it risks becoming the ‘poor white trash of Asia’.
“If Canberra really wants to make its China policy in line with ‘Australia’s national interests’, it must take a long-term view, truly abandon the Cold War mentality, and conform to the spirit of world peace, co-development, and win-win.”
Amid the rise in tensions between the two, the Australian government introduced legislation which would allow the foreign minister to terminate existing foreign agreements.
Under the Foreign Relations Bill, the government would be able to stop agreements if they harm Australia’s foreign relations.
Within the bill, 42 worldwide agreements would come under review.
Of the 42, 27 are related to China with the most important being the next step of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative in the state of Victoria.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said: “This is an important day for sovereignty in Australia. It’s an important day for ensuring that Australia’s national interest is protected and promoted.
“We need to ensure that Australia, not just at a federal level, but across all of our governments, speak with one voice, act in accordance with one plan, consistent within the national interest, as set out in Australia’s foreign policy.”
Amid Australia’s allegations towards China, Beijing has instituted a series of tariffs on products coming from the state.
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Within the next six months, China will increase tariffs on Australian beef from under five percent to 12.
China’s Ministry of Education also warned students to avoid studying in the country.
Crucially, International education is Australia’s fourth-largest foreign exchange earner and is valued at $38 billion (£20billion).
China is Australia’s biggest export market and accounts for 30 percent of the state export value.
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According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures, China takes to $79.5billion (£43billion) worth of iron ore.
They also estimate $13.8billion (£7.5billion) worth of coal and $16billion (£8billion) in natural gas exports.
In a further blow to relations between the two, an Australian citizen who works for the China Global Television Network, has been detained.
On August 14, Cheng Lei, was detained by the Chinese government.
Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne acknowledge the detention had been made by the Chinese government.
She said: “Australian officials had an initial consular visit with Ms Cheng at a detention facility via video link on 27 August and will continue to provide assistance and support to her and her family.”
The journalist has not yet been charged.
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