China blames Australia for strained relations as trade suffers

CANBERRAChina has issued a fresh rebuke to Australia as tensions between the two nations continued to simmer, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi blaming its trading partner for the spat and saying it was up to Australia to get their relationship back on track.

“Due to the Australian side’s reasons, the relationship between China and Australia has encountered some difficulties,” Wang said in a statement yeeterday. “If Australia is genuinely hopeful for getting the bilateral relationship back on the right track, Australia should discard its traditional thinking and take off its tinted glasses to take a proactive approach towards China’s development.”

The comments, coming directly after a meeting between Wang and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Buenos Aires on Monday, show how far relations have soured since December, when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said reports of Chinese meddling with media, universities and lawmakers were a catalyst for tougher anti-foreign interference laws.

The legislation, yet to pass Parliament, will ban foreign political donations and require people or organisations acting in the interests of overseas powers to register and disclose their ties.

The US, Japan and countries in South-East Asia that haven’t aligned themselves with China will be watching this closely, said Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a former adviser to the government on defence policy.

“Australia shouldn’t back down and I don’t think the Chinese will, so this cooling off in the relationship could well continue,” Davis said by phone. “Australia needs to set an example that nations can maintain a strong resolve against Chinese pressure and not allow China to dictate their foreign and defence policies.” — Bloomberg