Malcolm Turnbull says Australia can do little to get out of China’s ‘freeze’

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2019: Australian intelligence agencies conclude that China was responsible for a cyberattack on the Australian parliament and three largest political parties in the run-up to the May elections.

April 2020: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison begins recruiting his fellow world leaders to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain and France are initially reluctant, but more than 100 countries eventually support an investigation.

15 of April: Morrison is one of the few leaders to express sympathy with Donald Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organization, which accuses the US president of bias against China.

April 21: The Chinese embassy accuses Australian Foreign Minister Peter Dutton of “ignorance and bigotry” and “thinking about what those Americans have been saying” after calling on China to be more transparent about the outbreak.

April 23: Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud calls on G20 countries to campaign against the ‘wet markets’ common in China and linked to the earliest cases of coronavirus.

26 April: Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye alludes to a boycott of Australian wine and beef, saying tourists and students may avoid Australia “while it’s not so kind to China.” Canberra rejects the threat and warns Beijing against ‘economic coercion’.

11 May: China suspends beef imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors. These account for more than a third of Australia’s $1.1 billion beef exports to China.

May 18: The World Health Organization backs partial inquiry into the pandemic, but China says it’s a ‘joke’ for Australia to claim credit. That same day, China imposed an 80 percent tariff on Australian barley. Australia says it can challenge this at the WTO.

21st of May: China announces new rules on iron ore imports allowing Australian imports – usually worth $41 billion a year – to be singled out for additional bureaucratic controls.

5 June: Beijing warns tourists against traveling to Australia, amid racism and violence against the Chinese in connection with Covid-19.

June 9: China’s Ministry of Education warns students to think carefully about studying in Australia, also citing alleged racist incidents.

June 19: Australia says it is under attack by a foreign state government sources say is China. The attack targets industry, schools, hospitals and government officials, Morrison said.

July 9: Australia suspends its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and offers to extend the visas of 10,000 Hong Kongers already in Australia due to China’s national security law effectively banning protests.

August 18: China launches a 12-month anti-dumping investigation into wines imported from Australia, posing a major threat to the $6 billion industry.

August 26: Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces he will legislate to prevent states and territories from entering into agreements with foreign powers that go against Australia’s foreign policy. Analysts said it is focused on China.

October 13: Commerce Secretary Simon Birmingham says he is investigating reports that Chinese customs officials have informally told steelmakers and state-owned power plants to stop Aussie coal and leave it in ships offshore.

November 2nd: Agriculture Minister David Littleproud reveals that China is blocking imports of Australian lobsters by checking them for minerals.

Nov 3: The import of barley, sugar, red wine, logs, coal, lobster and copper from Australia has been unofficially banned under a government directive.

Nov 18: China publishes bizarre file of 14 grievances with Australia.

Nov 27: Australian coal exports to China fell 96 percent in the first three weeks of November as 82 ships loaded with 8.8 million tons of coal floated off Chinese ports where they were denied entry.

Nov 28: Beijing imposed a 212 percent tariff on Australian wine exports worth $1.2 billion, claiming they were being “dumped” or sold below cost. The claim is rejected by both Australian and Chinese importers.

November 30: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao posted an edited image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child. The action caused anger among the Australians.

12 December: Australian coal is added to a Chinese blacklist.

Dec 24: China suspends imports of Australian timber from NSW and WA after local customs officials said they found pests in the cargo.

January 11, 2021: Australia is blocking a $300 million construction deal that would have led to the acquisition of Probuild by the state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation. The bid was blacked out over national security concerns.

February 5, 2021: China confirms Melbourne journalist and single mother Cheng Lei has been formally arrested after being detained in August 2020.

February 23, 2021: China accuses Australia of being in an ‘axis of white supremacy’ with the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand in an editorial.

March 11, 2021: Australia is accused of genocide by an editor of a Communist Party newspaper.

March 15, 2021: Commerce Secretary Dan Tehan announced he wants the World Trade Organization to help mediate between the two countries over the trade dispute.

April 21, 2021: Foreign Secretary Marise Payne announces that Australia has scrapped Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road deal with China using new veto powers.

May 6, 2021: China indefinitely suspends all strategic economic talks with Australia and blames Morrison’s government over the relationship. The move cuts all diplomatic contacts with Beijing under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, freezing discussions between key officials below a ministerial level.

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