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China and Australia Cautiously Tries to Ease Tensions

By: Zhihan Jiang

Following the election of Australia's new, central-left government last month, leaders in China and Australia made signaled that they wish to reduce tensions that have arisen in the past 4 years.

China and Australia both intended to mend the strained relations between their two nations that had existed since 2018 when the new Australian administration was elected last month.

China and Australia didn't always have a terrible relationship. Due to China's desire for Australia's resources, the two nations formed a trade agreement in 2014. However, Australia gradually began to become more concerned of China's expanding influence and might.

Starting in 2018, Australia began enforcing rules that were targeted at China. As a result, the nations' relations began to deteriorate. They also began preventing Chinese firms like Huawei from constructing their 5G network. In retaliation, China placed duties on $16 billion worth of Australian exports in 2020, which only increased Australia's skepticism of them.

The Chinese ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, stated in a speech at the University of Technology at Sydney that "there is every reason for China and Australia to be friends and partners, rather than adversaries," adding that "The atmosphere in both countries needs to be improved, that’s a fact."

As China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese has also wanted to improve relations with China. “Already there have been some improvements,” he said, referring to relations with China. “But there’s a long way to go.”

Since there are still numerous issues that divide the two nations, both nations have been moving cautiously. Australia's government has been working to earn the release of its citizens who have been detained in China. Cheng Lei, a journalist, was accused of sharing state secrets, while Yang Hengjun, a writer and businessman, was tried for espionage. Although Qian, the ambassador, insisted that the two had been granted the same rights as everyone else, many Australians think the trials are unjust and biased against the two.

There are many barriers standing in the way of Australia and China reforming a good relationship, but if they can get beyond them, something new could happen.


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