Australia was the top target of Chinese-issued trade restrictions against 19 countries between 2020 and 2022, a report by an Australian think tank says.
But China’s tactics in bidding to influence Australian policymaking were not successful and had “mixed success” in other nations, The Australian Strategic Policy Institute report claimed.
“Most governments have stood firm, but some have acquiesced. Undeniably, the tactics are harming certain businesses, challenging sovereign decision-making and weakening economic security,” the report said.
The institute’s report examined what it said were 73 “coercive PRC actions” recorded between 2020 and 2022, of which 21 were taken against Australia, 11 actions against Lithuania, and eight against Taiwan. Forty per cent of these actions were trade restrictions.
Europe was the most targeted by region, it said, with 35 actions taken or 47% of cases.
“The dominance of these tactics reflects the PRC’s abuse of its global trading power and its exploitation of state-controlled media and ‘wolf-warrior diplomacy’,” it said.
China’s embassy in Australia did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the ASPI report.
No Policy Change
The Albanese government, elected in May, has sought to stabilise relations with Beijing and said it wants to resume exports to China that were hit by “trade blockages” imposed by Beijing during a years-long diplomatic dispute.
Australia has, however, not changed its policy on China.
On Tuesday the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the nation’s foreign interference laws introduced in 2018 were designed to expose China’s activities, but were not working.
Australia’s spy chief said in a speech that the nation was experiencing unprecedented levels of foreign interference.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO) director general of security, Mike Burgess, criticised business people, academics and bureaucrats in Australia who he said had urged the intelligence agency to “ease up” to “avoid upsetting foreign regimes”.
Albanese said on Wednesday that ASIO had his government’s support “in all of their actions”.
- Reuters, with additional editing from Alfie Habershon