I don’t know if you’re aware, but Australia has been shooting itself in the foot all year as it continues to quarrel with China, one of its key trading partners. It began in April when the Scotty Morrison government, seeking to curry more favor with Donald Trump’s White House, demanded that an independent investigation be launched into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, which probably involves a 5G bat.
China, being a rather touchy country, took exception to this and began slapping tariffs and restrictions on a shitload of Australian exports including barley, wine and lobster, signaling a potential crisis for Australian business. Australia, Beijing says, has been dumping goods into the Chinese market for years. It also accused Canberra of harboring a Cold War mindset; one Chinese diplomat likened Australia to backstabbing Brutus.
The situation was made worse when Morrison condemned Beijing’s takeover of Hong Kong via the new national security law; he also suggested that Australia would make it easier for disaffected Hong Kongers to become Australian citizens.
The other day, adopting the tone of a disappointed schoolmarm, China told Australia to “reflect on its own deeds.”
That’s not going to happen, of course, though plenty of Australians understand that, by continue this ill-considered row with China, Canberra is only undermining itself.
“The damage to Australia is self-inflicted, led by our intelligence agencies and the media and followed by the government in order to ingratiate itself with Donald Trump,” former head of trade John Menadue told the SCMP. “The business sector is as quiet as a church mouse over all the damage that is being incurred. There has been no smart diplomacy. The anti-China hawks are winning the day.”
The Australian government is certainly stupid and can typically be counted on to screw up whatever it touches. One exception might be the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Using a network of NDIS registered providers, the program delivers supports to Australians living with disabilities.
While Australia’s squabble with China could very well escalate into a full blown trade war, tourism between the two countries may not be adversely affected. According to the Australian Financial Review, there is no shortage of Chinese travel agents who want to specialise in selling trips to Australia.
An extraordinary number of agents around the world are enrolling in the government’s “Aussie Specialist Program,” and a sizable percentage of them are Chinese. This is in spite of the government in Beijing advising its citizens not to travel to Australia once borders reopen, citing anti-Chinese racism and and arbitrary searches of Chinese travelers. Canberra issued a similar warning to Aussie travelers going to China.
Today China is the number one source of tourism to Australia—representing 15.4 percent of all international visitors.
“I’m really not too worried about China,” said Phillipa Harrison, head of Tourism Australia. “We remain a very appealing destination.”