Five Eyes alliance plotting against China will backfire on themselves

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/14 20:48:40

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

With Australian exporters suffering from mounting pressure amid increasingly fraying relations with China, the Five Eyes Alliance still refuses to de-escalate the tensions. 

Under a seemly unified effort to push back against China with trade and economic sanctions, the Five Eyes members are reportedly cooking up a "lesson" for China, however, this overrated cabal of allies should watch for backstabbers in its own midst. 

Five Eyes members are plotting "fight-back" against China, considering options such as launching sanctions on Chinese exports, or Australia rolling out retaliatory tariffs with others showing support by refusing to make up the shortfall in Chinese exports, according to a report by the Daily Mail.

It may not be China that needs to be taught a "lesson". Canberra, obviously, has not realized that its allies are benefitting from its poorly managed relationship with its largest trade partner. For instance, Canada's Teck Resources is looking to boost shipments of steelmaking coal to China next year, hoping to seize the chance of Australia's declining coal export to China, Reuters reported.

China has been the largest trade partner for over 120 countries and regions across the world. Combined Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand together represent about 6 percent of China's export, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs in 2019. Australia, who has been shipping over 30 percent of its export to China, purchased less than 2 percent of Chinese exports in 2019. 

While the US, the only one of the Five Eyes countries with a purchasing proportion over 16 percent, is in no state to endorse the Five Eyes' lesson for China given its own grim domestic situation, including its chaotic power transition to a new administration amid a rocketing number of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

Hanging onto the cold-war mentality, the US-led anti-China clique has been promoting its decoupling campaign for years, and the nations have already proved how ineffective they could be and how unrealistic the campaign was.

Even with governmental subsidies, only a handful of foreign enterprises showed intention to relocate their businesses out from China, industrial surveys from the US and Japan showed. As global firms are coping with their supply-chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, China remains the most attractive market place for cross-border trade and production, according to the latest survey by credit insurer Euler Hermes. The survey found that 30 percent of UK companies that are considering changing suppliers put China in the top three.

The Five Eyes are looking at different directions based on varied interests, it is hard for the global industries to omit the Chinese market, especially as China may be the only major economy to mete out a positive economic growth this year. 

What's really worth discussing is that as China increasingly holds a pivotal role in the international supply chain, it is also facing increasing responsibility to improve and safeguard free trade and multilateralism. 

Thanks to decisive government actions and concerted efforts of 1.4 billion Chinese people, China managed to get the pandemic under control in less than three months and is now busy finalizing its next Five-Year Plan (2020-25). 

In responding to the purposeful assaults from the Five Eyes Alliance, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian in November told a press conference in Beijing that "the Chinese people will not provoke troubles, but we never flinch when trouble comes our way. No matter how many eyes they have, five or ten or whatever, should anyone dare to undermine China's sovereignty, security and development interests, be careful not to get poked in the eye."

The article was compiled based on an interview with Gao Lingyun, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing closely following the China-US trade tensions.


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