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How a spat with China is ruining Australia's economy and threatening trade surplus

How a spat with China is ruining Australia's economy and threatening trade surplus

2019: Australian intelligence services conclude China was responsible for a cyberattack on Australia’s parliament and three major political parties ahead of an election in May.

April 2020: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison begins campaigning for his counterparts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain and France were initially reluctant, but more than 100 countries eventually backed an investigation.

April 15th: Morrison is one of the few leaders to express sympathy for Donald Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organization, which the US president accuses of bias against China.

April 21: The Chinese Embassy accuses Australian Foreign Minister Peter Dutton of “ignorance and bigotry” and “parroting what these Americans have claimed” after he urged China to be more transparent about the outbreak.

April 23: Australia’s Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is calling on the G20 to take action against the ‘wet markets’ widespread in China and linked to the earliest coronavirus cases.

26th of April: Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye hints at boycott of Australian wine and beef, saying tourists and students may avoid Australia “while it’s not so friendly to China”. Canberra rejects the threat and warns Beijing of “economic coercion”.

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

May 18th: World Health Organization backs partial probe into pandemic but China says it’s a ‘joke’ Australia is claiming loans. On the same day, China imposes an 80 percent tariff on Australian barley. Australia says it can challenge this to the WTO.

May 21st: China announces new rules on iron ore imports that could allow Australian imports – typically worth $41 billion a year – to be singled out for additional bureaucratic controls.

June 5th: Beijing warns tourists against traveling to Australia, alleging racism and anti-Chinese violence related to Covid-19.

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

June 19th: Australia says it is under attack by a foreign state which government sources say is China. The attack targeted industry, schools, hospitals and government officials, Morrison says.

July 9: Australia is suspending the extradition treaty with Hong Kong and is offering to extend the visas of 10,000 Hong Kongers already in Australia over China’s national security law, which effectively bans protests.

18th of August: China launches 12-month anti-dumping probe into wines imported from Australia, posing major threat to $6 billion industry

26th of August: Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces he will legislate to prevent states and territories from signing treaties with foreign powers that go against Australia’s foreign policy. Analysts said it was aimed at China.

October 13: Trade Secretary Simon Birmingham says he is investigating reports that Chinese customs officials have informally told state-owned steelmakers and power plants to stop Australian coal and keep it on ships off the coast.

November 2: Agriculture Secretary David Littleproud reveals China is stopping Australian lobster imports by testing them for minerals.

November 3rd: Barley, sugar, red wine, timber, coal, lobster and copper are reportedly unofficially banned from Australia by government order.

11/18: China releases bizarre dossier of 14 complaints about Australia.

November 27th: Australia’s coal exports to China fell 96 percent in the first three weeks of November as 82 ships carrying 8.8 million tonnes of coal drifted off Chinese ports where they were refused entry.

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November 28: Beijing imposed a 212 percent tariff on Australia’s $1.2 billion worth of wine exports, claiming they were being “dumped” or sold at a lower price. The claim is disputed by both Australian and Chinese importers.

30th of November: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao released a manipulated image showing a grinning Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child. The move outraged the Australians.

12th of December: Australian coal is placed on a Chinese blacklist.

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

January 11, 2021: Australia is blocking a $300 million construction deal that would have seen state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation take over Probuild. The offer was blacked out over national security concerns.

February 5, 2021: China has confirmed that Melbourne journalist and single mother Cheng Lei has been formally arrested following her detention in August 2020.

February 23, 2021: In an editorial, China accuses Australia of being in a “white supremacy axis” with Britain, the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

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

March 15, 2021: Trade Secretary Dan Tehan announced he wanted the World Trade Organization to help mediate talks between the two countries over the trade dispute.

April 21, 2021: Secretary of State Marise Payne announces that Australia has scrapped Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road deal with China with new veto powers.

May 6, 2021: China is indefinitely suspending all strategic economic talks with Australia, blaming the Morrison government’s stance on the relationship. The move cuts all diplomatic contacts with Beijing under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue and freezes discussions between key officials below the ministerial level.

June 22, 2021: China attempts to ‘invade’ Australia in a push to officially declare the Great Barrier Reef ‘at risk’

09/15/2021: Australia, Britain and the US announce the AUKUS Security Pact, which will provide the Australian military with nuclear-powered submarines to counter growing Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific. The move has met with seething anger in Beijing.

March 24, 2022: Details of a memorandum of understanding emerge that could allow Beijing to base warships in the Solomon Islands, just 1,000 miles off the coast of Australia. Canberra warns to be “concerned about any actions that destabilize the security of our region”.

April 25, 2022: Defense Secretary Peter Dutton warns on Anzac Day that the resurgence of Russia and China means Australia must be at war. “The only way to keep the peace is to prepare for war and be strong as a country,” he said. “We are in a period very similar to the 1930s.”

April 27, 2022: Home Secretary Karen Andrew said China is likely to send troops to the Solomon Islands and used the dispute to wreck Australia’s federal election. She said Beijing is “clearly very aware that we are currently in a federal election campaign.”

May 13, 2022: Defense Secretary Peter Dutton announces that the Australian military is pursuing a Chinese spy ship 250 nautical miles northwest of Broome in WA near the Harold E. Holt naval communications station. The sighting was largely dismissed as a pre-election stunt.

June 5, 2022: A Chinese fighter jet intercepts an Australian spy plane in a “dangerous manoeuvre” on May 26 and the details will be revealed weeks later.

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