Trade tensions between China and Australia could get worse, according to one key figure.
The Australian ambassador to China has warned that ongoing trading disputes between Canberra and Beijing could get even worse.
Graham Fletcher, who has been Australia’s ambassador to China since 2019, spoke frankly about his concerns over the global superpower when he addressed The Daily Telegraph’s Bush Summit panel on Friday.
“To be honest, things are not great in the trading relationship with China on the whole,” Mr Fletcher said.
“There are a lot of people who I would normally expect to see (in China) that I’ve got an instruction that they shouldn’t communicate with us at an ambassadorial Level.
“The kind of informal and more casual access that Ambassadors would normally expect to have across the system is very difficult in China at the moment.”
Tensions have risen dramatically between Australia and China over the last 12 months as Beijing has sought to coerce Canberra’s political decisions by punishing Aussie exporters with trade tariffs.
Mr Fletcher warned that while Australia’s overall trade numbers had held up because iron ore exports were doing so well, this did not mean things could not get even worst.
“For other producers who are dealing with China, I think everyone is on notice that there are potential problems in the relationship which could affect our trading future further than what we’ve already seen,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed similar concerns when he address the Bush Summit panel, but said it was unlikely that trade disputes would turn into more serious military confrontations.
“The Chinese communist government is, in my judgment, pretty unsavoury,” Mr Abbott said.
“But people can be bad without being mad.”
Mr Abbott said that despite China’s rhetoric suggesting it will pursue war if other countries stand in its way of ruling Taiwan, Xi Jinping is unlikely to follow through on this threat.
“Obviously he doesn’t want to do something which is going to cause massive, massive costs to his country,” Mr Abbott said.
“Xi Jinping has declared time and time again that it is inevitable and necessary that Taiwan be under Beijing‘s rule.
“But the higher the price of taking back Taiwan, the less likely it is to happen. That’s why AUKUS is important.”