Beijing/Canberra: The Chinese relations with Australia and New Zealand have been extremely tense over the lawsuit against Huawei company. On the one hand, the Chinese ports are indicating banning of Australian coal, and on the other hand, the Chinese agencies have warned its people not to choose New Zealand as a tourism option. Both Australia and New Zealand are members of the international group Five Eyes, formed with an initiative from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Two weeks ago, Australia imposed a ban on an industrialist, close to the ruling communist government in China. Before that, the Australian government passed Foreign interference laws, to check on the Chinese interference in educational institutes, study groups and voluntary organisations. Australia also announced the policy, Step Up Pacific, to counter the increasing challenges posed by China in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Australian neighbour, New Zealand, also had initiated firm steps against China. New Zealand announced an additional provision for financial assistance of $500 million,to increase its influence in the Pacific region under the Reset Pacific policy. Thereafter, last year the New Zealand intelligence issued a warning against the Chinese company Huawei. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, even postponed her visit to China after this. Ardern also clarified that relations with China have become complicated.
These challenges posed by Australia and New Zealand, who are a part of the Asia-Pacific region are making the Chinese rulers restless. These two main trading partners, not accepting its domination is making China restless, and it is making strong efforts to exert pressures on these two countries. The Chinese government mouthpiece newspapers and news agencies, along with the agencies connected with the bilateral trade are being used for this purpose.
In February, the announcement of China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was expected to be made. But China postponed this program. Before that, in December, the Chinese agencies had alerted the Chinese tourists to avoid tourism to New Zealand. Some reports of a ban on New Zealand tourism were also published in the Chinese media. Articles written by the former leaders criticising the anti-China policies of the current government were also released. Aggressive advice like China should not follow the examples of other countries, giving the information of China-New Zealand trade.
On the other hand, the tension between China and Australia, developing since the last few years seems to be poised to increase further. To counter the aggressive Australian stance, China has taken steps to target the trade. The main Chinese port Dalian has refused to accept the coal consignments imported from Australia. Along with Dalian, four other ports nearby, have also imposed restrictions on the imports of Australian coal.
Australia is the biggest coal supplier in China. Therefore, as per the analysts, this decision taken by the Chinese agencies, could not be without instructions from the Chinese government. Australia has asked for an explanation from China over the issue. China has clarified that these are decisions taken on a routine basis, to safeguard the interests of the Chinese importers. It is very likely that the dispute over this issue will fester, very soon.
China jaded by the trade war with the United Statesis trying to keep countries like Australia and New Zealand under the pressure of its market and financial might. But Australia and New Zealand have taken some bold decisions, indicating that these Chinese efforts will not be allowed to succeed.