Beijing says Coalition was the ‘root cause’ of Australia-China breakdown: Wang Yi Penny Wong

Beijing mouthpiece lists four demands Anthony Albanese must follow to get our relationship ‘back on track’ – as China blames US for the problems

  • China’s foreign minister Wang Yi met with Penny Wong at G20 meeting in Bali
  • He claimed the Morrison govt was the ‘root cause’ of the breakdown with China
  • Mr Wang shared Beijing’s four-point plan to improve relations with both nations 
  • Senator Wong said repairing relations between the countries would take time

China‘s foreign minister has blamed Scott Morrison‘s government for being the ‘root cause’ of deteriorating relations between Beijing and Canberra.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali – the first face-to-face meeting at a high level between the two countries in almost three years.

Tensions have soared since the onset of the Covid pandemic in early 2020, when the Morrison government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the divesting virus that emerged from Wuhan.

But the call for transparency outraged Australia’s largest trading partner with the authoritarian power slapping $20billion worth of key Aussie exports with unofficial bans and tariffs as punishment.

In order for Beijing to lift the arbitrary trade barriers, Mr Wang listed a vague four-point plan for the new Australian government to follow.

China's foreign minister Wang Yi (right) told his Australian counterpart Penny Wong (left) that the former Coalition government was to blame for the relationship breakdown between the two nations

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi (right) told his Australian counterpart Penny Wong (left) that the former Coalition government was to blame for the relationship breakdown between the two nations

The pair met on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali (pictured) on Friday

The pair met on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali (pictured) on Friday

Beijing’s four demands 

1. Beijing requested Australia treat China as a ‘partner rather than a rival’. 

2. The authoritarian power said the two nations need to find ‘common ground while shelving differences’.

3. Mr Wang said Australia must reject ‘manipulation by a third party’ – a thinly-veiled reference to the United States.

4. China and Australia need to create ‘public support featuring positiveness and pragmatism’. 

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Firstly, Beijing requested Australia treat China as a ‘partner rather than a rival’. 

Secondly, the authoritarian power said the two nations needed to find ‘common ground while shelving differences’.

Mr Wang also said Australia must reject ‘manipulation by a third party’ – a thinly-veiled reference to the United States.

The final point was that China and Australia create ‘public support featuring positiveness and pragmatism’. 

‘The root cause of the difficulties in bilateral relations over the past few years was the former Australian government’s insisting on regarding China as a rival or even a threat, allowing its words and deeds being irresponsible against China,’ Mr Wang told state media mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency. 

He insisted that China was open to ‘re-examine and re-calibrate’ based on ‘mutual respect’.

Mr Wang shared his hopes that Australia could ‘seize the opportunity, take concrete actions and come to a correct understanding of China’, according to a summary published by China’s foreign ministry on Saturday. 

Senator Wong described the meeting as an important first step, but said stabilising the countries’ relationship would take time and effort. 

‘We both recognised it is a first step for both our nations,’ she told reporters on Friday.

‘We’ve got a path to walk and we’ll see if it can lead to a better place between the two countries.’

Mr Wang shared a four-point plan from Beijing for the Australia government to follow to repair relations

Mr Wang shared a four-point plan from Beijing for the Australia government to follow to repair relations 

Tensions have flared further over China's growing presence in the South Pacific with Beijing signing a security agreement with the Solomon Islands. (pictured, Chinese troops march during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing)

Tensions have flared further over China’s growing presence in the South Pacific with Beijing signing a security agreement with the Solomon Islands. (pictured, Chinese troops march during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing)

Recently tensions have flared further over China’s growing presence in the South Pacific with Beijing signing a clandestine security agreement with the Solomon Islands opening the door for a permanent military base just 2000km from Australian shores.

Mr Wang defended China’s presence in the region, claiming that Beijing’s appearance was ‘requested’.

He told Senator Wong that China was conducting ‘equal exchange and cooperation’ with sovereign island nations based on their requests and needs.

China is also seeking similar deals with a long list of other South Pacific nations. 

The meeting between the two ministers was the first high-level talks between the two countries in almost three years after defence minister Richard Marles’ met with Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe last month in Singapore.

Beijing froze ministerial relations with Canberra in April 2020 when it brought in trade sanctions on barley, wine, beef, coal, copper, wool and seafood.

Senator Wong claimed the meeting with Mr Wang was an important first step, but said stabilising the relationship between Australia and China would take time and effort

Senator Wong claimed the meeting with Mr Wang was an important first step, but said stabilising the relationship between Australia and China would take time and effort

Beijing froze ministerial relations with the former government in 2020 after Scott Morrison (pictured) pushed for an inquiring into the pandemic and the former prime minister and his ministers expressed their alignment with Washington

Beijing froze ministerial relations with the former government in 2020 after Scott Morrison (pictured) pushed for an inquiring into the pandemic and the former prime minister and his ministers expressed their alignment with Washington 

How China’s feud with Australia has escalated over the past three years

2019: Australian intelligence services conclude that China was responsible for a cyber-attack on Australia’s parliament and three largest political parties in the run-up to a May election.

April 2020: Australian PM Scott Morrison begins canvassing his fellow world leaders for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain and France are initially reluctant but more than 100 countries eventually back an investigation. 

April 15: Morrison is one of the few leaders to voice sympathy with Donald Trump’s criticisms of the World Health Organization, which the US president accuses of bias towards China. 

April 21: China’s embassy accuses Australian foreign minister Peter Dutton of ‘ignorance and bigotry’ and ‘parroting what those Americans have asserted’ after he called for China to be more transparent about the outbreak.  

April 23: Australia’s agriculture minister David Littleproud calls for G20 nations to campaign against the ‘wet markets’ which are common in China and linked to the earliest coronavirus cases.  

April 26: Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye hints at a boycott of Australian wine and beef and says tourists and students might avoid Australia ‘while it’s not so friendly to China’. Canberra dismisses the threat and warns Beijing against ‘economic coercion’. 

May 11: China suspends beef imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors. These account for more than a third of Australia’s $1.1billion beef exports to China. 

May 18: The World Health Organization backs a partial investigation into the pandemic, but China says it is a ‘joke’ for Australia to claim credit. The same day, China imposes an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley. Australia says it may challenge this at the WTO. 

May 21: China announces new rules for iron ore imports which could allow Australian imports – usually worth $41billion per year – to be singled out for extra bureaucratic checks. 

June 5: Beijing warns tourists against travelling to Australia, alleging racism and violence against the Chinese in connection with Covid-19.  

June 9: China’s Ministry of Education warns students to think carefully about studying in Australia, similarly citing alleged racist incidents.   

June 19: Australia says it is under cyber-attack from a foreign state which government sources say is believed to be China. The attack has been targeting industry, schools, hospitals and government officials, Morrison says.

July 9: Australia suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong and offers to extend the visas of 10,000 Hong Kongers who are already in Australia over China’s national security law which effectively bans protest.

August 18: China launches 12-month anti-dumping investigation into wines imported from Australia in a major threat to the $6billion industry. 

August 26: Prime Minster Scott Morrison announces he will legislate to stop states and territories signing deals with foreign powers that go against Australia’s foreign policy. Analysts said it is aimed at China.

October 13: Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says he’s investigating reports that Chinese customs officials have informally told state-owned steelmakers and power plants to stop Aussie coal, leaving it in ships off-shore.

November 2: Agriculture Minister David Littleproud reveals China is holding up Aussie lobster imports by checking them for minerals.

November 3: Barley, sugar, red wine, logs, coal, lobster and copper imports from Australia unofficially banned under a directive from the government, according to reports.

November 18: China releases bizarre dossier of 14 grievances with Australia. 

November 27: Australian coal exports to China have dropped 96 per cent in the first three weeks of November as 82 ships laden with 8.8million tonnes of coal are left floating off Chinese ports where they have been denied entry. 

November 28: Beijing imposed a 212 per cent tariff on Australia’s $1.2 billion wine exports, claiming they were being ‘dumped’ or sold at below-cost. The claim is denied by both Australia and Chinese importers. 

November 30: Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao posted a doctored image showing a grinning Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child. The move outraged Australians. 

December 12: Australian coal is added to a Chinese blacklist.

December 24: China suspends imports of Australian timber from NSW and WA after local customs officers say they found pests in the cargo.

January 11, 2021: Australia blocks $300million construction deal that would have seen state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation takeover Probuild. The bid was blacked over national security concerns. 

February 5, 2021: China confirms Melbourne journalist and single mother Cheng Lei has been formally arrested after being detained in August, 2020.

February 23, 2021: China accuses Australia of being in an ‘axis of white supremacy’ with the UK, USA, Canada and NZ in an editorial.

March 11, 2021: Australia is accused of genocide by a Communist Party newspaper editor. 

March 15, 2021: Trade Minister Dan Tehan announced he wants the World Trade Organisation to help mediate discussions between the two countries over the trade dispute. 

April 21, 2021: Foreign Minister Marise Payne announces Australia has scrapped Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road deal with China using new veto powers. 

May 6, 2021: China indefinitely suspends all strategic economic talks with Australia, blaming the Morrison Government’s attitude towards the relationship. The move cuts off all diplomatic contact with Beijing under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, freezing discussions between key officials below a ministerial level.

June 22, 2021: China tries to ‘ambush’ Australia with a push to officially declare the Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’ 

September 15, 2021: Australia, the UK and the US announce the AUKUS security pact which will give the Australian military nuclear-powered submarines to counter China growing aggression in the Indo Pacific. The move is met with seething anger in Beijing. 

March 24, 2022: Details of a Memorandum of Understanding emerge which could allow Beijing to station warships on the Solomon Islands, just 1,000 miles off the coast of Australia. Canberra warns it is ‘concerned by any actions that destabilise the security of our region’.

April 25, 2022: Defence Minister Peter Dutton warns on Anzac Day that Russia and China’s resurgence means Australia must be on a war-footing. ‘The only way you can preserve peace is to prepare for war, and to be strong as a country,’ he said. ‘We’re in a period very similar to the 1930s.’

April 27, 2022: Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrew says China is likely to send troops to the Solomon Islands, and was using the row to derail Australia’s Federal Election. She said Beijing was ‘clearly very aware we are in a federal election campaign at the moment.’

May 13, 2022: Defence Minister Peter Dutton announces Australian military are tracking a Chinese spy ship 250 nautical miles northwest of Broome in WA near the Harold E Holt naval communication station. The sighting was mostly written off as a pre-election stunt.

June 5, 2022: A Chinese fighter jet intercepts an Australian spy plane with a ‘dangerous manoeuvre’ on May 26 and the details are revealed weeks later.

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