Australia joins US bandwagon over virus policy

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By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times

Photo taken on April 4 shows a notice of asking people to stay at home in Fairlight, Sydney, Australia. Photo: Xinhua

From being the first to ban Chinese technology giant Huawei from its 5G network, hyping China’s growing global influence, to alleging Chinese infiltration in its domestic politics, Australia has acted in recent years more and more like a petty follower of the US, which is costing its independent policy-making.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak worldwide, Australia again did not miss the chance to talk on behalf of the US. Following the various unwarranted accusations and blame of China stemming from the US, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Sunday expressed her concern of China’s transparency over its handling of the novel coronavirus, which she said was at a “very high point,” and demanded an international investigation into the origin of the virus.

Such so-called investigations sound all too familiar, as similar investigations of China have been urged by the US President and a number of extreme US politicians ever since the coronavirus started to hit the US hard.

Copying the US seems to be an easy tactic for Australia. But where is Australia’s own Asia policy or more precisely, China policy?

Australia has been recalibrating its Asia policy, which seems to have failed. The core of Australia’s Asia policy lies in its China policy and relations Australia wants to have with China. There is no area of importance to Australia politically that doesn’t have a China dimension to it, not to mention that China is Australia’s largest source of tourists and largest trading partner.

However, the debate in Australia in recent years has largely centered on China as inimical to Australian interests and poses a threat.

Therefore, Australian politicians are engineering a divorce from China in the context of US policy objectives. Given the importance of China-Australia relations, without an independent foreign policy, Australia can only render its China relations a victim of the US containment strategy toward China.

There has been a lack of mutual trust between China and Australia. Being part of the Asia-Pacific, Australia wants to walk one step closer and play a bigger role in Asian affairs. But it still leaves the other foot in the US-dominated Asian order, a deliberate effort to make clear where it stands and a manifestation of its distrust of China.

As some argued, President Trump is restoring America as a selfish state among selfish states. It certainly serves no Australian interest if Australia becomes one of them. China is building a cooperative architecture in the Asia-Pacific region to push forward joint development rather than dominate the region.

Australia should actively get involved in the development of such an architecture instead of being hijacked by US strategic interests. Amid this global fight against the coronavirus outbreak, it is absolutely wrong to use it as an excuse to engage in political point scoring with the US and its egotistical president.

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