China-Australia relations have deteriorated sharply as Australia has closely followed the US policy towards China. In this context, Australian exporters are gripped by pessimism.
Image from: Wind International
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Nov. 25 that Damien White is a wine distributor in Lakenfield, Australia. Speaking about his wine business, he said it"s been a tough year for everyone and it's really been a bit like putting nails in a coffin.
White had already decided to postpone an order for 130,000 Australian dollars ($95,000) worth of wine to China out of concern that the shipment would not clear customs, and another order was cancelled by the customer not long after.
The Australian business community is in a difficult position after relations between China and Australia have been strained. White says the conversation around the China-Australia relationship needs some urgency, we need some answers and an official response from the government. That's how we can figure out where to go.
The Australian government has taken a tough stance on China, resulting in damage to its interests in China.
The report cites official trade data showing that 94 percent of Australia's timber and lobster, 76 percent of its wool and 71 percent of its cotton are exported to China. The total value of exports to China from the five industries affected by China-Australia relations amounts to hundreds of billions of yuan annually.
Exporter Andrew Ferguson says he recently had three shipments of live lobsters die while waiting to clear customs because of lengthy customs testing. He describes himself as a victim of tensions between China and Australia and says the risk of shipping to China is now too great.
Former Australian Ambassador to China Geoff Raby now runs a business consulting firm in Beijing and is a director of a coal export company. Raby has also said that his coal company has experienced a disruption in its business in China.
China is urging the Scott Morrison administration to make a clear decision on whether it sees China as a threat or an opportunity, a key precondition for restarting ministerial talks.
The report quoted a senior official at the Chinese Embassy in Australia as saying that the Chinese minister would not take phone calls from fellow Australian ministers unless Australia stopped seeing China as a strategic threat.
The official said that while there is no indication yet of serious diplomatic differences between the two countries, he told the Australian government that the Australian side should consider ways to contain the deterioration of bilateral relations and create a better atmosphere for negotiations. Australia should abandon the Cold War mentality: The core issue is that we believe the Cold War mentality should be abandoned and China should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat. Otherwise the two sides cannot get on the right track.