Washington/Canberra: – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured Australia that the United States would support Australia in the dispute against China saying ‘China issued an economic threat to Australia after Australia demanded an independent inquiry into the Coronavirus pandemic. This is not correct and the United States is standing firmly behind Australia. Meanwhile, against the background of the political conflict with China, Australia has indicated improving cooperation with India and the Prime Minister of both the countries, will start important discussions in this matter, in the next two months.
Last month, Australia adopted a firm stand on the Coronavirus pandemic issue. Australia demanded an inquiry regarding the origin of the pandemic and other matters, by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Australia took an initiative to bring the resolution to the effect in the WHO. China reacted strongly to these Australian activities.
China threatened that Australia would have to bear a major economic jolt if it brought the resolution in the WHO. But Australia remained firm on its stand, without paying any heed to the Chinese threats. Infuriated by the Australian attitude, China announced the imposition of 80% tax, on Australian goods.
While retaliating to this Chinese action, Australia straightaway threatened to approach the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is clear from the statements made by Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, that the United States is with Australia in this matter. Australia has initiated moves to garner support from more countries along with the United States.
Reports of India-Australia cooperation, coming after the imposition of taxes on Australian goods by China, become significant. Since the formation of the QUAD group by the United States, the cooperation between India and Australia had already started improving. The United States has formed this group, to counter the increasing Chinese activities in the Indo-Pacific marine region, which includes India, Australia and Japan along with the United States. Therefore, the Indian and US stand on this dispute, between China and Australia, is same and the indications are that this will be a plus in improving relations between the two countries.
Following the Chinese threat to Australia, India has expressed a willingness to purchase Australian goods. This has brought relief to Australia. Reports are being received that India and Australia had discussed the Coronavirus issue before the Indian offer. Australia has already cleared the obstacles in the Indian exports to Australia.
In view of the scenario, the issue of Chinese domination may prove important, in bringing India and Australia together. There are indications that even the United States may take the initiative in this matter. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, issued instructions to make the policies linked to the Indian marketplace convenient and easy. Wells made a statement that given the Corona crisis, focus on improving relations not only with India but also with Europe and Australia. The Australian reference in the statement is essential the Corona reference is a direct pointer to China.