Australia to ‘shoot itself in the foot’ by mulling ban on Chinese apps: experts

By Wang Qi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/20 0:08:39

China Australia File photo

After the Morrison government is reported to be launching investigations of Chinese flagship platforms TikTok, WeChat and Sina Weibo, following the US that is considering a ban on the short video platform, observers said becoming a US puppet is unwise for Australia and if China-Australia ties sink, Canberra will be shooting itself in the foot. 

Beyond the US' blatant maliciousness against Chinese commercial platforms, its allies are following suit, including the UK, whose attitude toward Huawei has been erratic, and Australia which mulled investigations into TikTok and other platforms after the US' claims.  

Citing a government source, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the probe will potentially look at the security threats posed by social media companies such as TikTok, as well as platforms used primarily by the Chinese diaspora such as WeChat and Weibo. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said the Australian government was monitoring TikTok "very closely" and "won't be shy" about taking action against the video sharing app. The Morrison government has also been talking with the US recently over the issue. 

Yu Lei, a chief research fellow at the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries at Liaocheng University in Shandong Province, noted it is ridiculous to probe life-sharing and messaging platforms in the name of national security. 

Having close economic ties with China, Australia is totally unwise to follow the US and launch investigations or potential sanctions on Chinese companies, which are detrimental to cultural and commercial exchanges, Yu told the Global Times.

Australia will be shooting itself in the foot in the long run if it pursues such a radical act against China. It could give some politicians short-term gains, and that seems enough for them, Yu said. 

China is Australia's largest trading partner. About 60 percent of Australia's $126 billion annual net increase in exports over the past decade came from China. If Australia were to move away from China in trade, "it would only reduce Australian incomes and jobs."

Yu said that Australia is actually a "guard dog" of the US in the Asia-Pacific region, and its political and military status is totally dependent on the US, which has been increasingly involved in domestic Australian politics in recent years. 

Some observers warned that Australia is annoying China by comprehensively and blindly following the Trump administration, which is likely to have four last months in office, giving up its diplomatic autonomy under the shadow of US hegemony. 

WeChat told the Global Times they had no comments on the issue while the other companies did not reply as of press time. Chinese living in Australia reached by the Global Times expressed their disappointment and suspicion over the looming action. 

Wang Han, a Chinese who lives and works in Melbourne told the Global Times on Sunday that he felt really disappointed over some Australian politicians' words and actions. Wang said he was considering returning to China amid the unfriendly atmosphere.

"If Australia's economy and bilateral relations [with China] keep sinking, I will consider returning to China as an option," Wang said, noting the economy and employment is far from optimistic in Australia. 

Posted in: SOCIETY

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