Attempts to strong-arm Canberra only damage Beijing's standing: Ex PM Turnbull

ANI
·2-min read
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (File photo)
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (File photo)

Canberra [Australia], November 27 (ANI): As Sino-Australia relations continue to sour, Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned that attempts to strong-arm Canberra into changing policy will fail and only damage Beijing's standing overseas.

According to South China Morning Post reported on Friday, Turnbull said that Beijing's recent restrictions on Australian exports and public airing of grievances over the Australian government policy were counterproductive and would not win concessions from Canberra.

"The fundamental point is this: when someone tries to coerce you or bully you, threaten you, you can't take a backward step," Turnbull said to This Week as quoted by South China Morning Post.

He added, "If you do, then all that will do is invite more coercive activity. The best thing that can happen, frankly, is for this episode to come to an end, and for Australia and China to get back to a traditional, businesslike relationship."

Turnbull, who was the Prime Minister of Australia from 2015 to 2018, said that Beijing's aggressive approach to foreign policy had weakened its influence overseas.

"Has it won China more influence? No," he said. "Has it won China more friends [or] persuaded other countries to be more compliant? No ... if the object of your foreign policy is, among other things, to win friends and increase your influence in the world, how is any of this helpful?"

On the Chinese embassy in Canberra releasing a dossier of 14 grievances has poisoned bilateral relations further. South China Morning Post reported that the list included Canberra's proposal for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, its ban on Huawei's involvement in 5G.

"Have you ever heard of this being done by any other country anywhere else? It is so out of the ordinary, it is so plainly counterproductive," he said adding that the Australian government took a measured approach during the tensions between the two countries.

"Basically, the government can only do what it has done, which is to say, we look forward to the resumption of discussions. The Australian government is being very measured and low key in its reactions, which is I think the right way to be, but it is not going to start knuckling down to demands delivered on a log of claims presented by the Chinese embassy in Canberra," the former PM said.

Chinese and Australian relations have deteriorated after Canberra called in April for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus without first consulting Beijing.

Beijing has since imposed a large anti-dumping duty on Australian barley, banned beef exports from five abattoirs and instigated anti-dumping and subsidy investigations into cheap Australian wine in China. (ANI)