Canberra's bias continues to sour relations: China Daily editorial
The Australian government's decision to block a Chinese company's bid to buy an Australia-based construction company will only increase the strain on the two countries' already fraught relations.
China State Construction Engineering Corp had to withdraw its nearly 300 million Australian dollar ($231 million) acquisition bid for the company Probuild, following reports in the Australian media that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg would veto the bid on national security grounds.
The move is the latest act of discrimination against Chinese companies by the Australian government. It violates not only market economy principles but also the spirit of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. It has naturally been denounced by China, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying it was yet another example of Australia politicizing trade and investment issues.
In fact, it is another nail in the coffin Australia seems intent on building for pragmatic cooperation.
The Australian side habitually blames China for the deterioration of relations, and has even likened China's legitimate trade measures against some Australian imports as being part of a trade war it has launched against the country. But the latest development shows clearly that it is Australia that is poisoning ties.
The Australian government claims it wants friendly relations with China but its actions repeatedly reveal its lack of sincerity. Rather than seeking to sweeten the climate for bilateral cooperation, it instead continues to sour it further.
This is not the first time that Australia has put up roadblocks to Chinese companies' normal business operations under the pretext of national security. Similar excuses were used when Australia took the lead in suppressing Chinese telecom giant Huawei, blocking it from participating in Australia's 5G rollout.
In a similar vein, last year, China Mengniu Dairy had to withdraw its bid to purchase Lion Dairy and Drinks, the Australian subsidiary of Japanese company Kirin Holdings, after the Australian treasurer said it "would be contrary to the national interest".
The latest move shows that despite any words to the contrary, Canberra continues to view Beijing through a prejudicial lens.
Until the current downturn, prompted by Canberra's foolish following of the US administration's lead, China-Australia economic cooperation was characterized by mutual benefits.
Canberra only has itself to blame for the consequences of its actions.
Chinese enterprises abide by international rules and local laws and regulations when cooperating with foreign countries.
With the US government under Joe Biden scheduled to take office in less than a week's time, China-US relations are expected to take a different trajectory, which offers Canberra a chance to mend its ways.
With China-Australia ties at a crossroad, Canberra should choose the right road to allow ties to move forward.