Beginning today, China will ban at least seven categories of Australian goods from Chinese markets.
In recent weeks, a partial ban on Australian imports—including barley, beef, coal, cotton, lobster, timber and wine—had already been underway due to what China has cited as quality issues. Yet the trade limitations are only the latest manifestation of increased Chinese-Australian political tension.
Chinese-Australian relations have been steadily declining since Australia’s 2018 ban on Chinese Huawei Technologies over national security concerns. However, more importantly, Beijing has long been troubled by Canberra’s support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and its condemnation of China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims—both of which China sees as part of its trade partner’s overall shift toward the US. Meanwhile, Canberra has become increasingly frustrated with Chinese influence on its college campuses and in parliament, the latter of which had allegedly been infiltrated by a Chinese spy.
Thus, today’s import ban is seen by many in Canberra as part of a larger effort to retaliate against Australia by weakening its economy. As one of Australia’s biggest trading partners accounting for 33% of its exports, expect China to significantly hurt the Australian economy by limiting trade, especially as Australia faces its first recession in almost 30 years.
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Esra is an analyst on the Current Developments division and a member of The Daily Brief’s research team. She specialises in political and security issues with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa.