Australia’s ambassador in Beijing has labelled China’s campaign of economic punishment against Australia “vindictive” as the diplomatic relationship between the two countries remains stuck in a rut.
Last night, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that Australian trade with China had pummeted across all industries, with overall figures propped up largely by Beijing’s strong demand for iron ore.
In the last nine months, China’s government has targeted several Australian industries — including barley, coal, timber and lobsters — as it tries to force Canberra to give ground on a wide range of disputes.
No new sanctions have been unveiled this year, although the wine industry believes tariffs on Australian wine first introduced last year will be locked in — and possibly increased — within days.
And yesterday, Australia’s ambassador to China Graham Fletcher delivered a caustic assessment of China’s behaviour while speaking to Australian businesses via a video link from Beijing.
“I’m not sure China realises the damage that is occurring both in Australia and internationally,” Mr Fletcher told the Australian China Business Council.