Australia is at risk of becoming the “poor white trash of Asia” as disputes with our biggest trading partner heat up, China’s state-run newspaper says.
Tensions are growing between Australia and Beijing with Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week announcing new powers to tear up Victoria’s Belt and Road initiative if deals between foreign governments and local and state governments go against national interests.
But an opinion piece published by the Global Times says there are “few signs that Australia intends to stop provoking China”.
“Further decoupling with China will not send China back to poverty but will only make former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s famous statement more likely to come true: That if Australia doesn’t open up its economy and reduce unemployment, it risks becoming the ‘poor white trash of Asia’,” researcher Yu Lei writes.
“If decoupled from Australia, it won’t be difficult for Chinese products and investments to find new markets and investment destinations.
“However, it won’t be so easy for Australia to find a comparably large export market or a supply of high-quality and cheap imported goods or a strong group of investors to replace China’s.”
Yu Lei is a research fellow at the Australian Studies Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University and has previously attended the University of South Australia.
He writes that if Canberra really wants to make its China policy in line with Australia’s national interests, “it must take a long-term view, truly abandon the Cold War mentality and conform to the spirit of world peace, co-development and win-win”.
Trade Minister Simon Bermingham on Tuesday called on the Chinese Government to agree to ministerial level conversations.
He said numerous approaches and requests had been made in writing and through representations of embassy officials.
“The Australian Government remains very firm, willing and committed to have those discussions,” Senator Birmingham said.
“China has been unwilling to schedule a phone call or a discussion with my counterpart – I’m disappointed by that,” he told ABC.
“My view is that mature countries should be able to put their differences aside to then talk about the issues where they can work together to deal if they can with any differences.”
On Ms Cheng’s detention, Mr Birmingham said the Australian Government would continue to provide Ms Cheng and her family with every consular assistance that it could.
“We hope these matters can be resolved in a timely and proper manner,” he said.
When asked why she was detained, Senator Birmingham said he was “not in a position to go into that”.