By Yu Ning Source:Global Times
“We stand with Australia,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday. He blasted China for threatening Australia with economic retribution and said the Trump administration fully backs the Morrison government’s push for an independent inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus. If Australians naively believe Pompeo’s remarks suggest the US is a reliable ally who truly cares about Australia’s interests, they will be gravely wrong. Pompeo, in fact, attempted to instigate Australia to rush forward in its row with China and serve as a US’s pawn to create trouble for China by making an issue of the coronavirus’ origin.
The Trump administration has been hyping so-called China’s responsibilities for the coronavirus outbreak to deflect criticism on its botched response to the public health crisis, and to score points in the geopolitical competition with China. Washington is stepping up efforts to rope in allies to confront China. As an important ally in the Asia-Pacific region, Canberra receives more attention from Washington.
“The US stands with Australia” is a verbal support without substance. After a phone call with US President Donald Trump on April 22, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus.
It is in the political interest of the US that Australia has come to the fore in pushing for a coronavirus inquiry, but the US cares little about the tremendous damage that deteriorating China-Australia relations and an escalating trade spat are bringing to Australia.
With the White House promoting the “America First” doctrine and intensifying its competition with China, Washington’s allies are increasingly required to help serve those goals.
What the US wants is not equal partners, but loyal followers. Forcing other countries to choose between Washington and Beijing, it is the current US government that is coercing and threatening.
China, the second biggest economy in the world, has developed high economic interdependence with many countries and regions. No one can benefit if relations with China worsen. A trade spat is escalating between China and Australia, with the interests of a considerable number of Australian farmers caught in the middle.
The Australian government needs to answer these questions: Is Australia an independent sovereign state? What can Australia gain from following the US in a way that harms its own interest?
China’s importance to Australia is much bigger than that of Australia to China. Australia should stop blindly following the US and make itself caught up in China-US competition. Many Australian observers try to convince China that Australia is not a lapdog of the US. But if Australia follows its current path, the conclusion is not convincing.