The decline in Sino-Australian relations seems a bit trivial in the big picture of world affairs. But this is a corner of the canvas that deserves a lot of attention. It soon showed China’s extreme sensitivity to international calls for an investigation into the origin of Covid-19.
The deteriorating relations between Beijing and Canberra have been astonishing. Back in 2014, President Xi Jin gave the army word: Welcoming the Australian Parliament the new trade deal և “The huge ocean of goodwill between Australia and China”. But over the past year, China has had mandatory tariffs Other measures on Australian wine, food, coal, Chinese officials blame country racism և: war crimes,
The origin of the dispute can be as significant as the course of its development. Late last year, Chinese diplomats released a list of dossiers 14 complaints v. Australia. The violence included blocking foreign investment deals and funding “anti-Chinese” research. But one special complaint stood out.
Looking Chronology of the dispute, it is obvious that China really aggravated the situation when it was Canberra demanded Independent study of the origin of Covid-19. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has even called on international experts to give “weapons inspector-style powers” to conduct their inspections. Chinese Ambassador to Canberra answered warning that this perceived insult could lead to a boycott of Australian products by Chinese consumers. Within months, the Chinese government had initiated tariffs.
Beijing eventually agreed to an investigation by the World Health Organization. But there were many inspectors Limited: in what they could see. China’s apparent desperation to control history paid off doubts those who believe that the country has something to hide.
In fact, a guilty conscience is not the only just explanation for Beijing’s response. The wider difficulty is that China’s response to any criticism from the outside world seems to be a toxic mixture of threats, outrageous rhetoric, and secrecy. This applies regardless of whether the topic will be Xinjiang, Taiwan or Covid-19.
This style: “Wolf Fighter” diplomacy is often counterproductive. But it is also the inevitable product of an internal system that demands coexistence with President Xi, which fulfills that demand through censorship and repression. It is unrealistic to expect the system to be closed-paranoid at home, flexible in dealing with the outside world. Extremely aggressive messages from Chinese diplomats may be intended primarily for ordinary citizens or leaders returning home. The aim is to show that the Xi government supports China.
When it came to the Covid-19 probe, the Chinese government was also indirectly supported by Donald Trump. The fact that the former US president is widely considered a liar – – had a clear political motive for blaming China for the epidemic, made it easy to remove All of the lab leak suggestions at Wuhan as just another far-right conspiracy theory.
Biden’s more cautious approach is paradoxically more threatening for Beijing, as it enjoys greater confidence both at home and abroad. The US President openly confessed that his intelligence agencies are at odds over the theory of laboratory leaks. He may be genuinely afraid of the consequences if the theory is confirmed. Even if the Biden administration tried to limit the consequences of such a finding, there would probably be lawsuits in US courts demanding huge compensation from China. The White House’s efforts to maintain a delicate balance between confrontation and cooperation with China will be drained.
The stakes are high for China. China has succeeded over the past year changing the story On Covid-19. Stunned at first by the impact of being the first to hit, Beijing managed to single out China’s success in curbing the disease compared to the high mortality rate in the West.
The news of the new US investigation suddenly puts Beijing back on the spot. Faced with this enormous situation, China will need all the friends it can find. But Xi’s administration and its wolf-fighting diplomats spent the past year alienating potential partners. The last blow was the decision of the European Parliament freeze Ratification of China’s major investment agreement between the EU following Beijing’s imposition sanctions on European officials և institutions, which in itself was a response to EU sanctions against Xinjiang.
Relations with India have also steadily deteriorated over the past year. For New Delhi turning point It was the Chinese aggression in the Himalayas last year that led to the deaths of troops on both sides. Top Indian analysts believe that the pressure that Beijing felt on Covid-19 in the summer of 2020 may be the basis for the decision to escalate tensions.
There is a clear risk that if China feels at a new angle around Covid-19, it will again respond with aggression or the search for some international deviation. To understand how the epidemic started, it is inevitably necessary. It is also dangerous.