Beijing: China's decision to stop imports from Australia to punish it for seeking an inquiry into the Covid-19 origin has backfired on Beijing and the punitive measure is hurting its own economy.

China intended to punish Australia's economy forcing it to fall in line. However, economic coercion has "boomeranged" on China.

Soon after the Chinese ban in 2020, Australia moved its focus on energy-hungry countries like India. Meanwhile, other countries like South Korea too increased coal imports from Australia. Therefore, the Chinese restrictions did not affect Australia as Beijing had expected.

On the contrary, China has been struggling to replace Australian coal and has unsuccessfully attempted to increase imports from Indonesia, Russia, South Africa and even the US.

Writing for the InsideOver news portal, Italian political advisor and geopolitical expert Sergio Restelli explained how an abrupt ban on Australian imports led to a huge shortage of coal in China, leading to an unprecedented energy crisis that has crippled the world's biggest manufacturing hub.

"Beijing is scouting for coal from wherever possible to meet the energy demand. With the failure to procure the required coal, Beijing in a humiliating loss of face has had to turn to Australian coal," he said.

According to the Italian expert, China has no option as shortage and surging prices of coal has hampered industrial output significantly.

"Chinese have done themselves a lot of reputational damage in the way they have quite transparently tried to coerce Australia with economic sanctions," said Shiro Armstrong, an associate professor at the Australian National University.

Ralph Leszczynski, research head at Banchero Costa, a leading brokerage house, said that China's problem is that they need to buy coal at market prices but can only sell electricity at prices capped by the government.

"Therefore, power plants have little incentive to significantly boost electricity generation, unless the government agrees to increase electricity prices for users, or something is done to lower coal prices," said Leszczynski.

China ongoing energy crisis has impacted its economy, and higher electric tariffs will adversely affect the situation, thereby reducing economic growth and aggravating the ongoing slowdown.

"Energy-intensive industries will be most affected by electricity rationing. The combined share of the industrial sector in affected provinces with power rationing is about 14 per cent of Chinese GDP," said Kevin Xie, senior Asia economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.