Woe to anyone who openly criticizes China’s state power. At the moment he gets to feel that China is reluctant to be taught. This is all the more true when criticism comes from the West, which practically demoted the proud country to a colony in the 19th century. A national humiliation that Beijing has not forgotten.
The Hong Kong case is well known: pro-democratic forces have been demanding the detachment of their semi-autonomous city from China for months. Beijing does not want to allow that. In no case does the regime want to show weakness towards the West. Now China’s National People’s Congress even wants to adopt a paper that would allow Beijing to deploy and deploy its own security forces in Hong Kong. It would be a nightmare for the pro-democratic forces.
How did the corona pandemic come about? Australia doubts China’s version
The case of Australia is less well known. From a German perspective, however, it should be more instructive. After all, Australia is not a city that has been part of the People’s Republic anyway since 1997, but a sovereign country, indeed a “strategic partner” of Germany.
Australia’s conservative government dared in April to request an international investigation into Chinese crisis management in the corona pandemic. A delicate topic for China. Because it is still unclear exactly how the novel corona virus got from humans to humans. Did it happen in a wild animal market or even in an accident in a virus laboratory?
It is indisputable that the disaster started in Wuhan, China. There is also broad consensus in the West that China initially hushed up the outbreak, silenced critics, and ordered drastic quarantine measures only after the virus had spread across Wuhan’s city limits.
China stops importing Australian beef
China’s regime apparently fears that an international investigation could find evidence that would compromise Beijing’s crisis management. In any case, it refuses to let independent investigators into the country. And who, like Australia, demands this anyway? It is dealing with an angry and punitive China, which is well aware of its power as the second largest economy in the world.
First, China stopped importing Australian beef. Then China’s ambassador threatened to boycott Australian universities. Tens of thousands of Chinese are currently studying in Australia. Your tuition fees are an important source of income for Australian universities. Without this money, some institutions face financial difficulties.
And China continued to follow up. For one, it brought punitive tariffs on Australian barley into play. On the other hand, Chinese tourists to Australia were threatened with restrictions. The latter would hit the Australian tourism industry hard. Every fourth tourist has come from the People’s Republic in recent years.
Australia is not the first country to feel China’s anger
China’s deterrent campaign has had an impact. At the annual meeting of the responsible World Health Organization (WHO), Australia’s proposal for an independent examination did not even come to a vote. A severely weakened paper was decided. Accordingly, the WHO only undertakes to “identify the source of the infection” and to track the transmission to humans. Not a word about an independent investigation, China or Wuhan.
Read also: China tough: Beijing has just skilfully played Trump in the shadow of Corona – and secured even more power
Australia is not the first country to feel China’s tail. In 2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron invited the Dalai Lama, symbol of the Tibetan deposition movement from China. The People’s Republic of Great Britain then chilled until Cameron publicly distanced himself from the Dalai Lama.
Also read: China does not tolerate outside instruction – these countries learned that the hard way
At the end of 2018, a Canadian court had the prominent chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei arrested for alleged sanctions violations. As a result, Beijing apparently retaliated and in turn threw two Canadian citizens into prison, allegedly for “endangering state security”. The Canadian government called the arrest “arbitrary.” The two Canadians are still in custody without an appointment for trial or release.
China is Germany’s most important trading partner
At the beginning of October 2019, a manager of the US basketball league NBA shared a twitter message with the words “Fight for freedom. Stand by Hong Kong ”. Chinese state television promptly canceled two NBA games, major Chinese sponsors withdrew, and NBA fan articles disappeared from Chinese websites. The manager quickly apologized.
From a German perspective, the case of Australia is now likely to be so instructive because both countries have close economic ties with China. China is by far Australia’s most important trading partner. A third of all Australian exports go to the People’s Republic – including coveted raw materials such as iron ore, coal, gas and gold.
The People’s Republic is Germany’s number one trading partner, too. The Chinese market plays an especially important role for Germany’s auto industry. If Germany were too critical of China, for example if it were openly on the side of the Hong Kong demonstrators, Beijing would have enough opportunities to wedge back. In this respect, there should also be a warning from Beijing to Germany in the Australia case: Better not mess with China!