China has put discriminatory tariffs and bans on multiple Australian origin imports

During the past year, China's relationship with Australia has been rapidly deteriorating. Most experts agree that the main factor behind is the number of anti-China measures taken by Australia during this period. In April, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrision, had called for independent inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus, whose first cases were reported in Wuhan. Scared of getting exposed, China has been using a variety of tactics to bully Australia into toeing the line. Unfortunately, this has only fuelled anti-Chinese sentiments, strengthening Australia's resolve.

In retaliation, China has put discriminatory tariffs and bans on multiple Australian origin imports. Australian beef has been banned on health grounds, tariffs up to 200% have been imposed on Australian wine. On the pretext of inspection, Australia's coal shipments have been stranded at Chinese ports. China is Australia's largest trading partner.

A whopping $6 billion in goods has been targeted. Around one-third of Australia's total exports go to China and the market is estimated to be worth €94 billion ($105 billion) in the 2018-19. Of course, the official reason given for these tariffs and bans are either Australian subsidies or quality issues. Data from Chinese online markets suggest that the demand for Australian goods in China remains the same, which means that the reasons for the ban are politically motivated.

In fact, Australia has alleged China has given verbal warning to its importers against buying Australian goods. This is a blatant violation of WTO agreements and a clear misuse of the anti-dumping rule. “China's policy of coercive diplomacy is spearheaded by so-called Wolf Warrior diplomats. They derive their name from the Wolf Warrior action blockbuster that highlights agents of Chinese special operation forces. "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy describes offensives by Chinese diplomats to defend their country's national interests, often in confrontational ways,” according to a recent news report published in leading German media house Deutsche Welle (DW). These are weak attempts by China at psychological warfare. Fergus Hanson at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute is of opinion that China has won no friends in Australia and public opinion has "turned sharply" against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as it has started to act "increasingly assertively."

"While the CCP's coercive measures are concerning parts of the business community, there is a widespread realization things are different now and the CCP is acting this way with many other countries around the world," he told DW. China also leaked a list of 14 grievances it had with Australia. Strikingly, some of the issues listed were Australia's internal matters, making it seem as if China was trying to undermine Australia's sovereignty. The list was condemned by Australia, UK and the USA. Australia is already pursuing deals with the UK and EU as free-trade negotiations continue and will enter with Japan tariff-free arrangement from 2021. Rather than being a global player in the post Covid world, China appears busy trying to dismantle other nations through its salami slice strategy.