Sino-Australian relations stooped to new low after a document from the Chinese Embassy expressed Beijing’s anger towards Canberra over a myriad of issues.

The deliberately leaked document listed 14 disputes, including the Australian government’s “incessant wanton interference in China’s Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan affairs,” and their decision to ban Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE from Australia’s 5G network.

Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Scott Morrison, via Twitter.

The latest development in the tense Sino-Australian relations came after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s trip to Japan, where the two nations agreed on a defence pact that allows the two countries’ military forces to train on each other’s territory.

The list of complaints also included Australia’s call for an international independent inquiry into the source of Covid-19, “thinly veiled allegations” of Chinese cyber attacks, and the Australian media’s “unfriendly and antagonistic report on China.”

The document said that Canberra was “poisoning bilateral relations.”

Deteriorating bilateral ties

According to Australian news outlets The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and Nine News, the dossier was given to them by the Chinese Embassy in Canberra shortly before China’s Foreign Ministry daily press conference.

“The Australian side is very clear with the crux of the deteriorating bilateral ties. The root cause is Australia’s repeated wrong acts and remarks on issues concerning China’s core interests and major concerns as well as its provocative and confrontational actions,” said Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry.

Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for Chinese Foreign Ministry
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for Chinese Foreign Ministry. Photo: China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Beijing’s diplomatic relations with Canberra have been in a downward spiral over the last couple of years, amid reports of unprecedented levels of Chinese espionage in Australia and China’s rumoured plan to ban the import of Australian products.

“We make our laws and our rules and pursue our relationships in our interests,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an interview with Nine News in response to the document.

“We stand up with other countries, whether it be on human rights issues or things that are carrying around the world including in China, we will continue to do that in accordance with our values.”

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.