US vows to stand with Oz against China
Joe Biden's incoming administration will "rally" its allies behind Australia as Beijing warns Australia "will pay a price" for siding with the US.
Beijing has refused to take down a tweet posted by its foreign ministry, depicting an Australian soldier holding a knife to the neck of an Afghan child.
The post was in reference to the Afghan war crimes report, which found evidence of the murder of 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australia's elite soldiers.
The tweet has sparked an international controversy, with the US State Department lashing out at Beijing's hypocrisy over humanitarian abuses of its Muslim Uyghur population. It described the post as "a new low, even for the Chinese Communist Party".
Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden's incoming national security adviser, said the US would lobby the international community to support Australia in the wake of ongoing attacks from Beijing.
"The Australian people have made great sacrifices to protect freedom and democracy around the world," he tweeted.
"As we have for a century, America will stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally Australia and rally fellow democracies to advance our shared security, prosperity and values."
The Australian people have made great sacrifices to protect freedom and democracy around the world. As we have for a century, America will stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally Australia and rally fellow democracies to advance our shared security, prosperity, and values.— Jake Sullivan (@jakejsullivan) December 2, 2020
The comments come after US ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse joined the pile-on on Wednesday, telling Beijing it could learn a lot from Australia's transparency.
He said Australia had been responsible and open about the alleged crimes committed by Australian soldiers, accusing China of covering up its human rights abuses and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beijing has threatened, via an editorial in its mouthpiece the Global Times, that Australia would "pay a price" for siding with the US.
"There is no reason for China to continue appeasement toward Australia," it read.
"Chinese society strongly advocates resolute and lasting punishments against Australia, to let the world see clearly - one will eventually pay a price for taking the US side and requiting kindness with ingratitude toward China."
Labor leader Anthony Albanese ended days of unity over China by accusing the prime minister of presiding over a "complete breakdown" of Australia's relationship with Beijing.
Mr Albanese said it was "extraordinary" the relationship had deteriorated to the point where Chinese officials would no longer pick up the phone to their Australian counterparts.
Scott Morrison told reporters he was "disappointed but not surprised" by the comments.
"You cannot have each way bets on national security what Australia does protect international interests," he said.
Asked about China's endgame in its dispute with Australia, Mr Morrison said he was seeking constructive engagement.
"I can tell you what Australia's endgame is; that is something I have control over," he said.
"Our objective is to have a happy coexistence … one that has a mutually beneficial relationship."
"I do not have control over the ultimate objectives of other nations."
Mr Albanese accused the government of under-diversifying the economy, making Australia overly reliant on trade with China.
When pressed on what strategy he would pursue in government, Mr Albanese replied "our strategy is to get into government".
One Nation senator Pauline Hanson has led calls for Australians to boycott Chinese-made goods. She called for a revival in the Australian manufacturing industry, arguing Australia had become over-reliant on its biggest trading partner.
"You might think it's awfully hard. It is hard, I get it," she said in a Facebook video on Monday night.
"We all have our part to play in this. Think about it when you buy … have a look where it comes from. If it's China, let it sit on the shelf."
Her call was in response to China slapping tariffs of up to 212 per cent on Australian wine on Friday in what Trade Minister Simon Birmingham described as a "devastating blow" to the industry.
Auswan, a label bearing the face of former ambassador to Beijing Geoff Raby, was hit with a much lower tariff. Mr Raby has been an outspoken critic of Canberra's handling of its relationship with Beijing.
Of all the Australian wines hit w/ huge Chinese tariffs today, one - Auswan - was singled out for the softest tariff of 107%. Much lower than all the others. It just happens to be the label of former ambassador Geoff Raby, a consistent critic of Aus gov’t’s handling of China ties pic.twitter.com/nAJNV0ZZ9w— Bill Birtles (@billbirtles) November 27, 2020
But Beijing warned Senator Hanson had over-estimated Australia's importance to China and threatened "lasting punishment" for any retaliatory boycotts.
"She and her ilk behave not even like a paper tiger but a hysterical paper cat,'' the Global Times stated.
"Australia relies on China more in their win-win co-operation. We don't want to insult Australia and its people, but we do despise extreme politicians like Hanson."
In response to China’s recent economic attacks against Australia I have just one thing to say, Merry Christmas China. -PH pic.twitter.com/3PaqBqTHcM— Pauline Hanson 🇦🇺 (@PaulineHansonOz) November 26, 2020
After Monday's post, the international community has rallied around Australia, with millions of people around the world urged to consume Australian products.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, made up of more than 200 MPs from a range of political parties and 19 countries, has launched a campaign urging people to buy Australian wine.
Originally published as US vows to stand with Oz against China