“While Australia was pivoting to China, Beijing was orchestrating its own pivot: Xi had delivered a very different address to his countrymen before his speech to the Australian parliament.
In January 2013, shortly after becoming the chairman of the Communist Party and just months before becoming Chinese president, Xi laid out plans to make China a global superpower through economic and technological might.”
“That meant going after the Western alliance —with Australia as the weakest link. So while publicly promising sincerity and trust, Xi secretly sought to squeeze the island nation.
Then came attacks on Australia’s Chinese-language media, with reports of coercion, bullying and intimidation at any outlet daring to depart from the Communist Party line.
Reports emerged that China had reached deep into the Australian political establishment, seeking to steer policy in China’s favor. Investigations found Beijing-linked businesses were the largest sources of donations with foreign ties, and the money went to both sides of the political spectrum.
The financial intrusions rattled Australian politics. In 2017, Australian Labor Party Senator Sam Dastyari was forced to resign over his ties to Chinese Communist Party-linked donors.”
“Later in 2017, China’s security chief warned Labor leadership the party would risk losing support among Australia’s Chinese diaspora community if it didn’t back an extradition treaty Beijing wanted.
And over the past 18 months, China hit Australia with a series of trade restrictions and tariffs in response to Canberra’s call for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Meanwhile, China was also building its military might in the region, making sweeping claims to the South China Sea and squeezing Hong Kong and Taiwan — moving southward toward Australia.”
“Australia, having once extended Beijing a hand of friendship, is now back in the arms of its old associates.
Earlier in September, Canberra announced a wide-ranging security partnership with the U.S. and U.K. The pact, dubbed AUKUS, comes amid a broader Australian attempt to pivot its economy away from China.
“The level of Chinese economic coercion and cyber espionage against Australia was once unimaginable, so our security agencies have learned to consider worst-case possibilities,” said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University and author of “Indo-Pacific Empire.”
AUKUS, he said, “is an alignment made in Beijing.”
Under the new Anglo-American alliance, the U.S., U.K. and Australia have agreed to share advanced technologies with one another, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum computing, underwater systems and long-range strike capabilities. Australia also abandoned a submarine deal with France worth more than €50 billion to acquire American nuclear-powered submarines instead.
“It’s a remarkable collapse in Australia-China relations and a massive deterioration in Australia’s security outlook that’s led to this outcome,” said Michael Shoebridge, a director at the influential Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) think tank, which receives funding from the Australian and other governments.”