australia: US accuses China of ‘economic war’ against Australia | Instant News


SYDNEY: US President Joe Biden’s top envoy to the Pacific on Tuesday accused China of trying to “drive” Australia to its knees” through the same series of sanctions as “economic war”.
In his remarks to the Sydney-based Lowy . Institute, veteran diplomat Kurt Campbell railed against Beijing for its strong weapons tactics.
Painting China as increasingly warring and determined to impose its will overseas, Campbell said Beijing was engaged in a “very dramatic economic war — directed against Australia”.
Over the past two years, China has imposed a series of punitive sanctions on Australian goods in a bitter political dispute that has frozen ministerial contacts and plunged relations into the most serious crisis since Tiananmen.
“China’s preference is to destroy Australia. Bring Australia to its knees,” said Campbell, who currently serves as Indo-Pacific White House coordinator.
China has been angered by Australia’s willingness to pass laws against foreign influence operations, to ban Huawei of 5G contracts and to call for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Australian barley, coal, copper ore, cotton, straw, logs, rock lobster, sugar, grapes, beef, citrus fruits, grains, table grapes, dairy products and infant formula have all been subject to Chinese sanctions.
The US envoy said that under the President Xi Jinping, China has become “more risk-accepting, more assertive, more determined to take steps that other countries would essentially see as coercive”.
The Biden administration has adhered to a policy of “strategic competition” with China – recognizing competition between the two powers but maintaining ties so the conflict does not spiral out of control.
Biden recently surprised many in the region by agreeing to share sensitive nuclear-powered submarine technology with Canberra, allowing Australia to dramatically increase its military deterrence.
Campbell indicated the move — part of a broader three-way AUKUS agreement that includes Britain — would bind the three allies for generations.
“When we look back at the Biden administration – I believe that will be one of the most important things we have achieved. And I think in 20 years it will be considered as remembering that our sailors sailed together, our submarine port in Australia.”
Canberra and London’s thriving economic ties with China have cast the alliance into doubt, Campbell admits.
“Seven or eight years ago, if you asked the countries most likely to strategically realign and rethink their options … near the top of the list were probably Great Britain and Australia,” he said.
Campbell also revealed that other Pacific allies are likely to take part in cyber or other non-submarine aspects of the AUKUS agreement.
“Many close allies came to us, soon after and said, can we participate? Can we get involved?
“This is a compliment from Australia and Great Britain, that they insist, yes, this is not closed architecture.”

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