China should take aggressive trade measures 'to send chill up and down spine of Australia', says state-run newspaper

‘Of course, it would be an even greater shock if the import reductions totalled $10bn’

Adam Withnall
Asia Editor
Wednesday 23 May 2018 11:05
Comments
The Global Times suggested Malcolm Turnbull should postpone a trip to Beijing for ‘a few years’
The Global Times suggested Malcolm Turnbull should postpone a trip to Beijing for ‘a few years’

China should exercise the full weight of its economic muscle and cut Australian imports by up to $10bn, a state-run newspaper has said, as relations between the two major trading partners continue to deteriorate.

The editorial in the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper comes after Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates, the largest listed winemaker in the world, said its exports to China were being impeded.

It is the latest spat in a row that dates back to late last year, when the government of Malcolm Turnbull proposed a bill to limit foreign influence in Australia, including on political donations. Beijing said at the time that the move was “anti-China”.

The Global Times editorial suggested China, Australia’s biggest export market, should instead buy things like iron ore, meat and wine from the US.

“Last year, Australia exported $76.45bn in goods to China. Lowering Aussie exports by $6.45bn would send cold chills up and down the spine of Australia,” the paper said.

“Of course, it would be an even greater shock if the import reductions totalled $10bn,” it added.

The widely read newspaper effectively provides an English-language version of the state-run People’s Daily, but its editorials do not reflect government policy.

And foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang insisted in a briefing on Wednesday that China was handling Australian wine imports as normal.

Steve Ciobo, the Australian trade minister, visited China last week to try to repair ties, and Prime Minister Turnbull was planning to follow up with his own Beijing visit later this year, though foreign minister Julie Bishop said on Tuesday that she could not confirm even loose dates for the summit.

This week the Chinese government’s top diplomat Wang Yi told his Australian counterpart that Canberra should remove its “coloured glasses” to get relations back on track with its major trading partner.

The Global Times editorial suggested China’s best course of action could be to let Australia suffer for a while, rather than soothe ties too quickly.

“China does not have to throw away Sino-Australia relations. China just needs to slow their relationship for a period,” the newspaper said.

“For example, it will not be necessary for the Australian prime minister to visit China this year. In fact, he could visit a few years later.”

Mr Lu declined to comment on the editorial.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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