Dutton harms Australia with groundless provocation

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/14 19:55:20

Photo: IC

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on Friday sharply criticized China for launching cyber attacks against Australia and interfering in Australia's internal affairs, drawing a strong rebuke from China.

It is an old trick of certain radical Australian politicians to make such groundless attacks against China. However, as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's administration has softened its stance toward China, Dutton's words appeared harsh.

It is worth noting that Dutton just concluded his visit to the US. Based on past experience, Dutton's abrupt attack is likely to be influenced by Washington. If the minister does care about the national interests of his country, he has no reason to provoke China and impede China-Australia ties. 

No maritime disputes and historical grievances can be found between China and Australia. Instead, the two countries' economic structures complement each other. China has been Australia's largest trading partner for years. Bilateral trade reached more than $120 billion in 2018, which clearly matters far more to Australia than China.

These facts are obvious. We are still puzzled why Australia had an anti-China sentiment and made some specific anti-China moves over the last two years.

To some extent, people like Dutton have damaged China-Australia relations. For Australian right-wing politicians, Washington is even more important than Canberra. If the US shows discontent at China, they may immediately follow suit. The extreme public opinion, which has circulated for a long time, has poisoned Australia's attitude toward China. Australian politicians benefit from pandering to such a distorted atmosphere and developing close relations with the US.

This explains Dutton's unreasonable comments on China - he places personal political interests above Australia's national interests. He attacks China to earn political favors, but he hurts Australia.

Due to Australia's unilateral destruction, China-Australia relations have been in a stalemate for three years. Australia has paid a great price for this. In 2018, China's investments in Australia fell by nearly half compared to 2017. It is unrealistic for Australia to hope to keep earning money from China while hurting the latter in words and deeds. 

Recent data suggested Australia's economic growth had fallen to its lowest level in a decade. If Canberra wants to boost its economy, it will have to rely on China. It is impossible that Morrison is not aware of that. After he assumed office, he has been avoiding provoking China and offered some gestures of goodwill toward Beijing. As Chinese people are still suspicious of Morrison, Dutton's accusation against China was not unexpected, but has put Morrison's efforts in vain. 

In China-Australia ties, Canberra is the one that has always been anxious, while Beijing has been calm and has the capacity to be so. Australia needs to spend more efforts to win back the trust from the Chinese people as well as promoting the thawing of China-Australia relations. Preventing troublemakers like Dutton is a challenge Australia is confronting. 

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