2020 definitely saw a worsening of relationship between Australia and its largest trading partner, China, beginning with Australia’s call for an international inquiry into China’s handling of Covid-19, which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
While Australia hasn’t really put in any strong retaliatory measures against China, China took several measures that restricted Australian imports, ranging from levying new tariffs to imposing bans. These tariffs was to target sectors that would negatively affect certain Australian exporters without much of a detrimental impact on the Chinese economy.
Australia is one of the few developed nations in the world that exports more than it imports to China.
According to Australia’s Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, China-Australia trading relationship is very important, and Australia will continue advocating for its national interests but would like to see strained relations with China improve.
Cited from CNBC, Frydenberg also mentioned that China has been a very important market for Australia and the exports to China has helped boost incomes in Australia, which has been an important source of revenue and job creation.
However, Frydenberg also mentioned that Australia has a clear sense of its own national interests in areas of security, foreign investments as well as human rights. “We’ll continue to advocate and speak up for Australia’s national interest but that shouldn’t preclude, again, strong relationships in the region and historically, we’ve had a very good partnership with China and we’d like to see that continue.”
On another note, according to Frydenberg, the Australian government is looking forward to working with US President Joe Biden, as the United States has an indispensable role in the Asia-Pacific.
During the former President Donald Trump’s administration, the US appeared to be retreating from a position of influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Trump withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and Washington did not take part in the massive Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, signed by China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries that would account for about 30% of the population worldwide, and global economy.