Chinese authorities are reconsidering bans on Australian imports in the near term after unilaterally “punishing” Australia. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not have an official response. However, the Chinese people scoffed, “does it hurt when you press on a stone under your own foot?”
Today, July 14, Bloomberg reported that senior China leaders would consider ending the ban on Australian imports prompted by fears that European-led curbs on Russian energy will increase competition for coal from China’s leading suppliers such as Indonesia.
In April 2020, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, called on the international community to conduct an independent investigation to trace the origin of the pneumonia virus that broke out in Wuhan, China, where the global pandemic first broke out. This adds to the geopolitical conflict, making China-Australian relations even worse. In retaliation against Australia, the Chinese authorities have banned or cut the primary Australian commodities exported to China, such as beef, barley, lobster, wine, etc. Even Australia’s coal and iron ore, on which China relies heavily, was not immune to retaliation.
Sina news site reported, in October 2020, a rumor appeared in the “Sydney Morning Herald” that state-owned energy companies and China’s steel mills received official oral notices to stop Australian coal and coke imports. As a result, China’s share of Australian coal imports has plummeted from 49% in 2020 to just 3% in February 2022.
However, what is remarkable is that from September 2021, from the coastal economic towns of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Shandong, to 3 provinces In the Northeast, there were widespread “power outages” due to a lack of coal. According to Vision Times, it caused significant economic damage and created a backlash of domestic public opinion. Moreover, this July, China is experiencing sweltering weather with very high temperatures, and many places are experiencing power shortages, which inevitably makes mainlanders complain again and again.
Bloomberg said that although the Chinese side has not responded to the above information, sources revealed that some Chinese companies are preparing to resume Australian coal imports.
According to VOA, since Australia’s new government took office in May this year, officials from both sides have increased their contact and expressed hope of improving bilateral relations. Chinese coal resources website sxcoal.com said that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took the initiative to speak with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong during the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, last week. Vision Times said that during the first meeting for three years between the two countries, Mr. Wang Yi expressed hope for improving China-Australia relations. Although the two foreign ministers met on July 8, Xinhua News Agency did not publish the contents of their talks until late on July 9.
Regarding lifting the Australian coal ban, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that he hoped the Australian side would seize the opportunity to resume relations between the two countries and have concrete actions to improve China-Australian relations.
Vision Times quoted some comments from Chinese-speaking netizens: “Putin invaded Ukraine, the international community banned Russia from exporting coal, and coal prices have reached record highs. Without Australian coke with cheap and high quality, Chinese steel companies have become the main victims of the ban from Beijing.”
Another said: “Without Australian coal there is a widespread lack of electricity, without Australian iron ore it is impossible to make high-quality steel.”
“To punish Australia, the Chinese government banned Australian coal imports and tore up the contract. The initial contract price was more than $100 per ton. On re-signing the contract, the price has increased to more than $400 per ton. The Chinese government is really kicking its own feet.”
Some netizens also mocked: “I wonder if this leg (with the stone underfoot) is painful? … If it hurts, just cover your mouth.”