Geopolitical game in US interest obstructs repair of China-Australian trade ties
Published: Mar 14, 2023 11:29 PM
Illustration: Xia Qing/Global Times

Illustration: Xia Qing/Global Times

Mark McGowan, premier of the state of Western Australia, is expected to make his first visit to China in four years by late April. McGowan is set to become the first Australian state premier to travel to China since before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic as tensions thaw between the two nations, Australian media outlet 7News reported.

There's a need to continue to repair Australia's relationship with China by focusing on areas of common interest, but, regrettably, there are complex challenges ahead, and the US factor cannot be ignored. The leaders of the US, UK and Australia have announced more details of how Australia will acquire nuclear submarines under the AUKUS agreement, reported.

AUKUS, launched in September 2021, has been seen as leverage aiming at strengthening defense cooperation to counter China, including offering Australia nuclear powered submarine technology. McGowan's sincerity in helping repair bilateral relations as well as US efforts in arming Australia and turning it into a US military asset against China provide a sharp contrast.

On the one hand, it reflects the Australian business community has been eagerly awaiting a boost in bilateral ties, which are exerting invisible pressure on local governments, so rational voices calling for improving or even strengthening relations with China have emerged among some local government officials. On the other hand, the US is busy paving the way for more tensions and conflicts, trying to set obstacles for normal economic, trade, scientific and technological exchanges. Different forces are nowadays intertwined with each other and fight with each other, jointly influencing bilateral ties between China and Australia.

The geopolitical and economic picture in Asia-Pacific has long been complex and uneven. It will be a test of Canberra's wisdom to see if it can make the best choice for itself and promote the sound recovery and sustained development of its relationship with China. At present, it is in the critical period of pushing China and Australia economic and trade relations back on track. Australian politicians should cherish the hard-won situation to expand cooperation and improve cooperation to add new impetus to the Australian economy. It would be deeply disappointing if the logic of Cold War thinking and bloc politics hinders the hard-won atmosphere for expanding bilateral cooperation between China and Australia.

In considering Australia's own interests, Australian politicians should maintain strategic sobriety and give top priority to strengthening and increasing trade and investment, instead of focusing on geopolitical games that serve only Washington's interests.

China is Australia's largest trading partner, and this relationship has been mutually beneficial for both countries. To take the example of Western Australia, some statistics showed China accounts for more than half of Western Australia's total goods exports and represents significant jobs for the region. No matter whether McGowan's visit will materialize or not, the reports around the move send a message that more and more officials in Australia tend to take a pragmatic approach to solve practical problems faced by the two countries. It is a good signal and hopefully more people in Australia can maintain strategic sobriety in the current complex situation of internal and external challenges.

The relationship of China and Australia is more complex than many other bilateral relationships, such as those of Australia and most of other developing countries, partly because the US has always wanted to make Australia a pioneer in its anti-China campaign. However, Australian and Chinese economies are strongly complementary. As a result, their trade and investment relationship is substantial. Many possibilities lie ahead for the two countries. So why focus on a zero-sum game and bloc politics?

It's being US' long-term strategy to sow discord and escalate tension in order to fish profit. It is hope the Australian government can get rid of narrow geopolitical mind-set and refrain from doing anything that undermines regional and world peace and stability, creating atmosphere for bringing China-Australia relationship back on track. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.