Australia holds back to join western nations to impose new sanctions on Beijing
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has yet to set in motion legislation that would allow his government to join allies in imposing coordinated sanctions against officials from the country’s largest trading partner, reports Bloomberg.
When asked why the government hadn’t introduced the bill, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said: “The government will continue to determine the path forward and respond when it’s able to do so.” The Prime Minister has been outspoken in calling for multilateral coordinated action by “like-minded democracies” to push back against China, saying that Australia was urging liberalised nations to support a “world order that favours freedom over autocracy and authoritarianism.”
The Group of Seven summit in the UK is expected to flesh out plans to counter China’s growing influence but the delay in passing new measures left Australia cheering from the sidelines in March when the US, the European Union, the UK and Canada used similar laws to sanction Chinese officials involved in alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Beijing has imposed its own sanctions on individuals and organisations from Europe, Britain, Canada and the US after their actions in March, and would probably do the same in response to a similar decision by Australia.
Ties between Canberra and Beijing, which started to become strained in 2018, nosedived last year when Morrison’s government called for independent investigators to probe the origins of the Covid crisis so hopefully this abeyance by Australia will be seen as a positive sign by China.