How China and Australia transitioned from allies to adversaries.
AUSTRALIA and China were on the verge of forming a strategic alliance less than a decade ago. But it ended almost as fast as it began, leaving things even more strained than before.
China’s relationship with Western countries has a long and complicated history characterized by mistrust and scapegoating. The new Aukus agreement, signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia to combat Chinese dominance in the Indo-Pacific, is the latest in a long line of threatening hostilities. It’s also the final nail in the coffin of what may have been cordial ties with Canberra. So, what went wrong? The Australian government was laying plans to integrate China into its culture and economy when Xi Jinping seized charge of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012.
Canberra laid out national objectives in the 2012 Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, which included teaching Asian languages such as Mandarin in schools, strengthening commercial connections with Beijing, and opening up its economy to Asia.
Australia’s transition away from its colonial Commonwealth roots and toward carving out a place as a regional power in its own right was reflected in the white paper.
The following year, Australia and China established a free-trade agreement and a new partnership between the two countries.
“We should increase mutual understanding and be true and trustworthy partners,” Mr Xi said in a speech to Australia’s parliament, adding that the countries were “not burdened by historical conflicts between us.”
“We have every reason to move beyond a business collaboration to become strategic partners with a shared vision and common objectives,” he said.
However, fissures appeared almost immediately.
Mr. Xi had delivered a completely different address to his compatriots just before the address in Australia.
Mr. Xi put out aspirations to build China a worldwide superpower through economic and technological strength in January 2013, just months after becoming the Communist Party’s chairman and just months before becoming China’s president.
“We must concentrate our efforts on bettering our own affairs, consistently increasing our comprehensive national power,” he stated in an address to the Communist Party.
“Building a superior socialism versus capitalism and creating the framework for a future where we will win the initiative and have the dominant position” would be the focus.
Then there were the cyberattacks, with Chinese government-linked hackers targeting Australia’s parliament, according to the “Brinkwire Summary News.”