Australian firms concerned by Turnbull government’s stance toward China

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/17 23:53:39

Australian companies concerned by Turnbull government’s stance toward China

Australian businesses in China are reportedly keeping a low profile as they worry about possible consumer boycotts in the Chinese market, a development underlining rising bilateral tensions.

There has recently been speculation that a temporary ban on Australian beef imports to China, which was subsequently lifted, was related to the "anti-China" statements of the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to media reports.

Such speculation obviously goes against the reality that no boycott of or dislike for Australian products has been seen so far in China, maybe because Chinese people can still make a distinction between business and politics.

However, given the growing "anti-China" sentiment among Australian politicians, the concerns shown by Australian businesses in China are totally justified. The companies are the ones that have enough first-hand experience to know how Chinese people will feel and react eventually.

Politics will affect the bilateral economic and trade relationship, even though most of us don't want to see the situation become too bad.

Yet, things may turn ugly given Australian politicians' irresponsible remarks about infiltration of Chinese influence and proposed foreign influence laws, which are clearly aimed at curbing Chinese investments and business activities in Australia.

As such, politics is bound to affect bilateral trade, changing Chinese people's attitude toward Australia and its products. If anti-China McCarthyism returns to Australia, how can Chinese people take a fair view of Australian products?

It is puzzling, however, as to what the Turnbull government really wants to achieve by stirring Chinese anger. With US leadership diminishing in the region, Australia's fear of the rise of China is understandable. It also makes sense to see the country seek allies like Japan and India to contain the so-called Chinese influence. But the question is whether the Australian government has a clear idea of its ultimate goals and whether it can contain itself. If not, then it will boost anti-Chinese sentiment and ultimately hurt its own interests

While there appears to have been no impact from Australia's anti-China sentiment so far, one should not be too optimistic in predicting the trend of economic and trade relations between China and Australia.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.
Newspaper headline: Australian companies concerned by Turnbull government’s stance toward China


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