China has warned it will become Australia’s ‘enemy’ and released a dossier outlining 14 grievances with the government after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg attempted to cool escalating tensions between the nations.
The dossier was handed to Nine Newspapers by the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, containing accusations ranging from ‘racist attacks against Asian people’ to siding with the ‘United States’ anti-China campaign’.
‘China is angry. If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy,’ a Chinese government official said in a briefing with a reporter.
The warning came after Mr Frydenberg gave a speech on Wednesday in which he offered an olive branch to the Chinese government following a year of deteriorating relations and trade disputes.
‘We stand ready to engage with the Chinese government in respectful, mutually beneficial dialogue,’ he said.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian rejected the peace offering, telling a news conference on Wednesday: ‘Those who created problems shall be the one responsible to solve the problems.’
On Thursday morning Trade Minister Simon Birmingham refused to apologise to Beijing over its complaint that Australia had blocked 10 Chinese investment projects on ‘opaque national security grounds.’
‘We make no apologies for Australia having foreign investment laws that act in Australia’s national interest, for protecting communications networks,’ he told the ABC.
China has warned it will become Australia’s ‘enemy’ while escalating tensions by releasing a bizarre dossier outlining 14 ‘grievances’ with the Morrison government. Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping last year
Mr Morrison on Wednesday said China shouldn’t be threatened by Australia’s signing of a defence treaty with Japan. Pictured with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (pictured together)
China’s ’14 grievances’
1. ‘Incessant wanton interference in China’s Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan affairs’
2. ‘Siding with the US’ anti-China campaign and spreading misinformation’
3. ‘Thinly veiled allegations against China on cyber attacks without any evidence’
4. ‘An unfriendly or antagonistic report on China by media’
5. Providing funding to ‘anti-China think tank for spreading untrue reports’
6. ‘Foreign interference legislation’
7. ‘Foreign investment decisions’
8. ‘Banning Huawei technologies and ZTE from the 5G network’
9. ‘Politicisation and stigmatisation of the normal exchanges and coorperation between China and Australia’
10. Making statements ‘on the South China Sea to the United Nations’
11. ‘Outrageous condemnation of the governing party of China by MPs and racist attacks against Chinese or Asian people’
12. ‘The early drawn search and reckless seizure of Chinese journalists’ homes and properties’
13. Calls for an independent inquiry into Covid-19
14. ‘Legislation to scrutinise agreements with a foreign government’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also stood firm, telling the Seven Network’s Sunrise: ‘Australia is a sovereign country, we make our own decisions according to the nation’s interest.’
He said Australia would always speak up over human rights concerns and back the freedom of parliamentarians to freely speak their minds.
‘If this is the cause of tension in that relationship, it would seem the tension is that Australia is being Australia.
‘I can assure you, we will always be Australia and act in our interests, in accordance with our values,’ he said.
The dossier of grievances claimed Australia was interfering with China’s affairs in Taiwan and Hong Kong and condemned Scott Morrison for seeking an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19.
Mr Morrison was among the first world leaders to propose an investigation into the origins of coronavirus, which was identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year.
Since April, China has slapped an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, suspended beef imports and told students and tourists not to travel Down Under.
Recently coal and seafood exports have been held up at Chinese ports, despite the two countries signing a free trade deal in 2015.
Among the other grievances was Australia’s decision to ban Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from the country’s 5G network and blocking foreign investment bids by Chinese companies.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull issued the Huawei ban on security grounds, and the government has been lobbied by the state-sponsored company even since.
The accusation of ‘racist attacks’ refers to Liberal senator Eric Abetz’s interrogation of three Chinese Australians during a senate committee last month.
He repeatedly demanded the public servants condemn the Chinese Communist Party even through they had lived in Australia all of their lives.
The Chinese also complained about the Morrison government’s public condemnation of a ‘large-scale’ cyber attack on Australian institutions in June.
Mr Morrison only said it was by a ‘foreign actor’ but sources told media the culprit was China. The dossier said there was ‘no evidence’ that China was involved.
The dossier also slammed Mr Morrison’s proposed law to ban state governments and universities from doing deals with China without federal approval and his updated foreign interference laws to lower the threshold for federal scrutiny of private deals involving Chinese companies.
It also criticised the ‘outrageous condemnation’ of China by Australian MPs.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australia is a ‘liberal democratic society with a free media and a parliamentary democracy, where elected members and media are entitled to freely express their views’.
‘The Australian government is always ready to talk directly in a constructive fashion about Australia’s relationship with China, including about our differences, and to do so directly between our political leaders,’ it said in a statement.
‘Such direct dialogue enables misrepresentation of Australia’s positions to be addressed in a constructive manner that enables our mutually beneficial relationship.’
Chinese state controlled media frequently claims that Australia is subservient to the US, which is locked in strategic competition with China, and this rhetoric increased after Mr Morrison advanced a defence agreement with Japan on Tuesday.
The dossier of grievances claimed Australia was interfering with China’s affairs in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Australia wants China to respect Hong Kong’s democracy. Hong Kong residents (pictured) have been protesting against what they see as increasing Chinese encroachment
The list also condemned Scott Morrison for seeking an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19. Pictured: A bio-security lab in China
In a meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday night, Mr Morrison and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga advanced a reciprocal access agreement to allow their troops to visit each other’s countries for training and joint operations.
The agreement – which will soon be finalised and signed – strengthens defence ties between the two US allies at a time when China is asserting itself in the region and the US is going through a messy leadership transition.
Mr Morrison said China’s assumption that the deal was brokered by the US was ‘nonsense’.
Senator Birmingham – who has not been able to contact his Chinese counterpart since March – said the ‘ball is in Beijing’s court’.
‘I and other Australian government ministers are willing to take phone calls, engage with our counterparts, have meetings with our counterparts,’ he said before the dossier was released.
‘We have expressed that very clearly — we’re willing to have that dialogue.’
According to reports, all Chinese companies have been informally instructed by the Communist Party to stop buying Australian barley, sugar, red wine, logs, coal, lobster and copper.
Mr Birmingham said China was discriminating against Australian exports and breaching the 2015 free trade agreement between the nations.
‘All importers should be subjected to equivalent standards and there should be no discriminatory screening practices,’ he said.
Last year 94 per cent of Australia’s $752million rock lobster exports – mostly from South Australia and Western Australia – went to China.
In August, Beijing accused Australian exporters of selling wine in China at an artificially low price to stamp out competition and increase market share, a practice known as ‘dumping’.
The dumping allegations came after Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye made economic threats against Australian back in May.
Following the economic threats, Australia’s barley industry was hit with crippling tariffs and arbitrary bans were also placed on the country’s four largest beef producers.
How China’s feud with Australia has escalated
2019: Australian intelligence services conclude that China was responsible for a cyber-attack on Australia’s parliament and three largest political parties in the run-up to a May election.
April 2020: Australian PM Scott Morrison begins canvassing his fellow world leaders for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain and France are initially reluctant but more than 100 countries eventually back an investigation.
April 15: Morrison is one of the few leaders to voice sympathy with Donald Trump’s criticisms of the World Health Organization, which the US president accuses of bias towards China.
April 21: China’s embassy accuses Australian foreign minister Peter Dutton of ‘ignorance and bigotry’ and ‘parroting what those Americans have asserted’ after he called for China to be more transparent about the outbreak.
April 23: Australia’s agriculture minister David Littleproud calls for G20 nations to campaign against the ‘wet markets’ which are common in China and linked to the earliest coronavirus cases.
April 26: Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye hints at a boycott of Australian wine and beef and says tourists and students might avoid Australia ‘while it’s not so friendly to China’. Canberra dismisses the threat and warns Beijing against ‘economic coercion’.
May 11: China suspends beef imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors. These account for more than a third of Australia’s $1.1billion beef exports to China.
May 18: The World Health Organization backs a partial investigation into the pandemic, but China says it is a ‘joke’ for Australia to claim credit. The same day, China imposes an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley. Australia says it may challenge this at the WTO.
May 21: China announces new rules for iron ore imports which could allow Australian imports – usually worth $41billion per year – to be singled out for extra bureaucratic checks.
June 5: Beijing warns tourists against travelling to Australia, alleging racism and violence against the Chinese in connection with Covid-19.
June 9: China’s Ministry of Education warns students to think carefully about studying in Australia, similarly citing alleged racist incidents.
June 19: Australia says it is under cyber-attack from a foreign state which government sources say is believed to be China. The attack has been targeting industry, schools, hospitals and government officials, Morrison says.
July 9: Australia suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong and offers to extend the visas of 10,000 Hong Kongers who are already in Australia over China’s national security law which effectively bans protest.
August 18: China launches 12-month anti-dumping investigation into wines imported from Australia in a major threat to the $6billion industry.
August 26: Prime Minster Scott Morrison announces he will legislate to stop states and territories signing deals with foreign powers that go against Australia’s foreign policy. Analysts said it is aimed at China.
October 13: Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says he’s investigating reports that Chinese customs officials have informally told state-owned steelmakers and power plants to stop Aussie coal, leaving it in ships off-shore.
November 2: Agriculture Minister David Littleproud reveals China is holding up Aussie lobster imports by checking them for minerals.
November 3: Barley, sugar, red wine, logs, coal, lobster and copper imports from Australia unofficially banned under a directive from the government, according to reports.
November 18: China releases bizarre dossier of 14 grievances with Australia.