Australia has been ousted by tabloid Chinese media as an ungrateful country that deserves the ‘cold shoulder’ from its biggest trade partner.
An article in Beijing-based newspaper Global Times called for a cancellation in Malcolm Turnbull’s planned visit to Beijing later this year and also of visits from Australian politicians for the next three to four years.
The opinion piece said: “It is high time China demonstrated how it sticks to its principles in regard to its relations with Australia, so as to make Australia pay for its arrogant attitude toward China over the past two years.”
The piece stated China would not suffer economically if it was to withdraw its interest in Australia.
Instead, the newspaper suggested a blow to the Australian economy by lowering Aussie exports by at least $6.45 billion annually, and up to $10 billion.
It said “reducing Aussie exports would send cold chills up and down the spine of Australia” with the intention of teaching us a lesson.
Lowy Institute East Asia program director Merriden Varrall said the Chinese Government used outlets such as the Global Times for political advantage.
“Global Times can’t say anything that isn’t accepted by the [Chinese] Government. It’s a place where slightly more extreme ideas are tested out with just enough distance from the Government so that the Communist Party can say it’s not their official sentiment but they’re not opposed to the idea,” Dr Varrall said.
“It is also possible that the Global Times is connected with people who are rivals of [President] Xi Jinping and so there is the possibility that from time to time it puts things out that are deliberately trying to make things difficult for Mr Xi and bio lateral relations.”
Dr. Varrall said Australia and China had recently been through a tough time in their relations but tensions were clearing.
She suggested the Global Times was reacting to Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security chair Andrew Hastie’s comments about China a few days ago.
The article did not specifically refer to Mr Hastie but did refer to remarks made by “Australian Politicians”, blaming them for strained relations.
The article said: “It is necessary for China to leave Australia hanging for a while. China should not be too hasty about burying the hatchet simply every time Canberra puts on a smile.”
Dr. Varrall said it was important to put the article into context.
“We should not assume this is all about Australia. It might be about broader political factors that are afoot. For some reason, China might need to be seen taking a strong stand against Australia right now. It could be to do with the trade relationship with the US. The Chinese Government might be afraid it’s looking weak,” she said.
Lowy Institute non-resident fellow Peter Cai said the Global Times was a tabloid-style publication and used sensational language to evoke strong reactions.
“The Global Times is a rabble-rouser. They are always like that. It’s not just about Australia. It’s a Nationalist tabloid. It appeals to the Nationalist audience. Whenever they think China is being insulted, you will often have this kind of reaction. This is just typical of Global Times,” he said.
“Global Times is quite proud it gets a reaction from foreign media all the time. It’s actually a part of KPIs for their journalists and editors – how many times they get cited by foreign media. One way for them to attract attention is to basically publish articles like this one”
Mr Cai suggested Australia had an over exaggerated coverage of China, which contributed to our obsession with reading Chinese tabloids.
“People of China won’t react to a front page Australian tabloid about them. Chinese Analysts may read something in the Financial Times or The Australian, but let’s say something like the Daily Telegraph runs a sensational story, China won’t read it or react to it. So why are we obsessed with the Global Times,” he said.
“My advice is to ignore the Global Times”
Read the Global Times article below.