An increasingly frustrated China lashed out at what it called “stupid” Australia on Wednesday, using an editorial in a Communist Party mouthpiece to demand an end to Canberra’s “smears” against Chinese journalists, diplomats and academics.
The editorial in the Global Times said recent moves against some Chinese diplomats in Australia were “following the strategic steps of the U.S.” and China is entirely blameless of any and all charges against it. The editorial said:
Australia has long had good and friendly images of Chinese, but that is now being gradually destroyed by Australia itself, and ordinary Chinese and scholars no longer have a sense of security in the country. Australia’s intention of using China as a lever for its own international presence at any cost is stupid and will backfire.
The Consulate always observes international law and basic norms of international relations while exercising its duties in Australia.
Australia’s move is not what “a civilized country should do, and it is very rude,” Lei Jianfeng, a professor from the China Foreign Affairs University who previously worked in a Chinese consulate overseas, told the Times.
“From a practical point of view, although there will be small actions between major powers, they at least respect diplomatic and consular personnel, and will do nothing like what Australia and the U.S. have done in openly disregarding basic rules,” Lei said.
China’s attack came two days after Australia’s interior ministry defended the government’s recent intelligence raids on Chinese agents “masquerading as journalists” in Australia, as Breitbart News reported.
China Says Australia Becoming ‘Poor White Trash of Asia’ by Resisting Beijing https://t.co/l1rl0ZXqtM
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 1, 2020
In June, Australian intelligence agencies raided the homes of four Chinese individuals accused of posing as journalists in Australia.
Last Friday, Australia’s trade minister revealed the agencies “acted on evidence related to a foreign interference investigation,” according to Reuters.
Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) the intelligence services have every right to conduct raids on individuals suspected of foreign interference.
“Where ASIO [the Australian Security Intelligence Organization] has sufficient grounds for the execution of a search warrant, or for activities otherwise, then they’ll undertake that activity,” Dutton asserted.
Now Beijing is hitting back, alleging Australia is violating the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by its assertive response to China’s interests. It said such actions diminish Australia:
Australia has been marginalized on the international stage for a long time, and its recent moves aim to challenge China at any cost to highlight its sense of existence and seek a greater voice on the international arena, but this strategy is ‘very stupid.’
Australia’s determination to stand up to China in a host of areas is well documented.
In April, it demanded an international investigation into the true origins of the Chinese coronavirus, which Beijing has been accused of trying to cover up since it was first identified last November in the city of Wuhan.
Australia confronted the World Health Organization over claims it supports so-called wet markets reopening in the Chinese city of Wuhan. https://t.co/TjH4HmGDzv
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) April 17, 2020
Angered by the action, China imposed retaliatory trade restrictions on Australian products, such as barley and wine, in subsequent months.
In response, Australia has imposed stricter constraints on foreign investors in Australia, citing national security concerns. Most observers view these actions as targeting China, traditionally Australia’s top trading partner.