Canberra – The Chinese media reacted to the Liberal Party candidate, Scott Morrison’s re-election as the Prime Minister saying that it was a shock for it. After that, reports showing the Chinese investments in Australia to have fallen by 50% have surfaced, and reactions emerging from the country indicate it would be detrimental to the Australian economy. Other than the economy, China may attempt to deliver jolts to Australia in other sectors as well. The Australia-China relations may increasingly exacerbate.
The Australian National University has released a report on Chinese investments. The report states that China invested only $3.31 billion in Australia in the year 2018, which is the lowest in the past five years. In 2016, Chinese investment in Australia reached a record high of $10 billion. However, since 2017, the investment began witnessing a decline which fell to its lowest level in 2018.
In 2017, the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull initiated aggressive anti-China movements. With significant decisions such as passing legislation to stop the increasing Chinese interference in Australia and introducing the ban on Chinese telecom company Huawei, Turnbull curbed the rising Chinese influence in the country. Right after, Australia also adopted the ‘Pacific Step-Up’ policy to challenge the Chinese expansion in the Indo-Pacific. Scott Morrison, who took over after Turnbull, continued with the same policies, taking a strong stand against China.
During the election campaign, while talking about ties with the United States and China, Morrison created a sensation with his statements in which he termed the United States as an ally and China, a customer. Being Australia’s largest trading partner, China was extremely offended by the statement. In retaliation to the anti-China decisions of Turnbull and Morrison, China reduced political cooperation and also stopped the coal imports from Australia.
Following the re-election of Morrison, analysts and experts in Australia have urged Canberra to soften its stand on Beijing. Nevertheless, Morrison as yet has not responded to it in any way. At the same time, the position taken by the Chinese and Australian media indicates that Beijing was trying to pressurise the Australian government using its media. China may even attempt to deliver a significant blow to Australia, to force Prime Minister Morrison to change his policies on China. Albeit, sources indicate that in such a scenario, Canberra may respond sharply, increasingly inflaming the tensions.