Chinese state media suggests cutting billions of dollars in Australian imports to 'make Australia pay'

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty ImagesChinese President Xi Jinping.

China’s globally-focused state media outlet has suggested Beijing could cut Australian imports by billions of dollars and cool diplomatic relations between the countries for an extended period.

In an extensive editorial on Chinese-Australian relations published today, the Global Times — known for its belligerent editorials — says that despite Australia indicating it wants relations to improve, “it is necessary for China to leave Australia hanging for a while, instead of being too quick to bury the hatchet whenever Canberra tries to put a smile on its face.”

Beijing this week sent its strongest signals yet on the deteriorating relations between the countries amid increasing concern about Chinese influence in Australia from media and politicians over recent years.

The editorial said it was time to “make Australia pay for its arrogant attitudes it has revealed toward China over the past two years”.

The article canvasses options for trade reduction:

Metal ore is Australia’s major export to China. As long as China is in need of the metal exports, and a replacement remains difficult to find, they will continue to import them. But when it comes to wine and beef, China can easily import those items from the US, replacing Australia.

The scope of import reductions could be limited. Last year, Australia exported $76.45 billion in goods to China. Lowering Aussie exports by $6.45 billion would send cold chills up and down the spine of Australia. Of course, it would be an even greater shock if the import reductions totaled $10 billion.

China has been very friendly toward Australia, but their arrogant attitudes in return over the past two years have become a virtual example of what it means to “bite the hand that feeds.”

Yesterday Beijing made it clear it now has a dim view of its relations with Australia, with a spokesman for foreign minister Wang Yi saying that Australia “must break away from its traditional thinking, take off its tinted glasses to look at China’s development from a more positive angle”.

This view was communicated in a meeting with Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop on the fringes of the G20 meeting in Argentina this week, the spokesman said.

You can read the full editorial here.

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