China’s new threat to Australia
A furious China has let rip at the government saying guidance for its citizens to no longer visit Australia may be "just the tip of the iceberg".
It has warned that Australia could soon "completely lose the benefits of Chinese consumers".
It's a further ratcheting up of China's animosity towards Australia which has already seen it impose tariffs on barley and accuse Canberra of being at the beck and call of the US.
The comments have come in weekend editorial from English language Chinese newspaper The Global Times.
The paper is widely seen as a Communist Party mouthpiece that does Beijing's bidding and accused Australian politicians of "attacking" China.
The editorial zeros in on Australian objections to recent guidance from the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism for its citizens to think twice before heading off to Australia in the future.
The warning, issued on Friday, said there had been a "significant increase" in racist attacks on "Chinese and Asian people".
There have undoubtedly been a number of attacks on Chinese Australians during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that one in four people who lodged racial discrimination complaints in the past two months were targeted because of COVID-19.
In April, news.com.au reported on a shocking video that showed a gang allegedly attacking a pair of Chinese students as they were on their way home in Melbourne.
A Hong Kong student was also reported to have been punched in the face in Hobart for wearing a mask, during the early stages of the pandemic.
However, Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham rejected Beijing's claim that Australia was unsafe for Chinese visitors.
In a statement on Friday he said Australia was "the most successful multicultural and migrant society in the world".
"The Chinese Australian community is a significant and valued contributor to that success story," he said.
"Millions of tourists from all corners of the world demonstrate their confidence in Australia as a safe, welcoming and amazing destination by visiting each year, often returning multiple times."
But the Global Times editorial hit back, naming Mr Birmingham directly as well as Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack who also criticised the travel warning.
"Their objections are feeble in the face of the facts," the editorial stated.
"Even the Australian media outlets have repeatedly reported stories of Chinese-Australian or Asian-Australian people experiencing increased racist attacks across the country.
"It is unlikely for those Australian politicians to overlook such overwhelming media coverage on increased racism, but political motives may probably make them turn a blind eye to it."
The paper said the politicians were pushing back against the travel advisory because the government was "nervous" at the loss of Chinese tourists which pump more than $12 billion into the economy and account for 27 per cent of foreign spending by visitors.
"Australian politicians have always readily launched attacks against China even when they know clearly that their assertions are unjustified, because they are too easily swayed by US political attitude and too eager to win US favours."
Australia's supposed dependence on the US has been a recurring theme in Chinese media diatribes against Canberra in recent months.
The increasingly angry rhetoric has coincided with a number of Australian policy decisions that the government has made against Beijing's wishes.
China was apoplectic with rage at Australia's leading role in the push for a World Health Organisation inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 and only reluctantly backed the investigation last month.
It continues to suggest the inquiry was at the US' behest.
Tensions had also been simmering over Canberra's decisions to lock out Chinese tech firm Huawei from the building of Australia's 5G network.
In recent months China has urged international students to "be cautious" about studying in Australia. China has also announced an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley and black-listed four major beef exporters due to labelling violations.
Beijing has denied the new trade measures are a retaliation.
"It is Australia's unfriendly attitude, not the travel alert, that may really scare away Chinese tourists and students," this weekend's editorial said.
"From its push for a US-led inquiry into COVID-19 to its interference in the Hong Kong affair and the upcoming overhaul of its foreign investment rules that are expected to tighten scrutiny over foreign investment, Australian politicians are demonstrating their antipathy toward China.
"It is what they do, not what they say, that really determines which direction China and Australia will go."
'TIP OF THE ICEBERG'
The paper suggested China could launch further action against Australia unless it modified its behaviour.
Certainly, Beijing would be keen for less international attention on its chipping away at Hong Kong's autonomy which gives citizens there far great freedoms than their mainland counterparts. There have been suggestions Australia would look favourably on Hong Kongers looking to emigrate.
"If Australia wants to retain the gain from its economic ties with China, it must make a real change to its current stance on China, or it will completely lose the benefits of Chinese consumers," it ranted.
"The tourism loss may be just a tip of iceberg in its loss of Chinese interest."
It's an ominous threat from China that knows all too well that Australia, like many other nations, needs to kickstart its economy following pandemic-related lockdowns.
China is Australia's number one export market with minerals, food and beverages some of the most in demand Australian commodities.
According to figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures, China imported over $100 billion worth of iron, coal and gas from Australia and $123 billion in goods and services in 2017-18.
Last month it was reported that China had drawn up a list of other Australian products to hit.
These include wine, seafood and fruit which could see more thorough and time-consuming customs checks, increased tariffs and even consumer boycotts spurred on by China's state-controlled media.
Originally published as China's new threat to Australia