In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald published on Feb. 14, India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar condemned China’s economic moves toward Australia. He said that growth and prosperity over the previous 80 years resulted from a trading system “regulated by laws and not politically influenced.”

“You know that bit—if it looks like a duck and moves like a duck,” Jaishankar said when questioned by the paper whether Beijing’s actions against Canberra constituted economic coercion.

Since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s administration launched an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in early 2020, trade relations with China, Australia’s largest trading partner, have deteriorated. Beijing replied by imposing trade taxes on Australian barley and wine and halting coal supplies.

According to the Financial Times, sales of crayfish, and the country’s wine, have been particularly severely affected by China’s export bans, which began in 2020 in retaliation for Canberra’s request for an independent review into the roots of Covid.

Last week, Jaishankar visited Melbourne, Australia, for a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)—a regional alliance including the United States, India, Japan, and Australia. The group aims to assist democracies in coordinating their responses to China’s ascent.

The Quad meetings took place while Australia’s Trade Minister, Dan Tehan, traveled to India for talks with his Indian counterpart on a free trade agreement. 

During the summit, Jaishankar mentioned the conflict between India and China on their shared border.

At the summit on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pushed the Quad to take a firmer position against the Chinese regime’s rising antagonism in the area but emphasized that conflict with Beijing was not inevitable. 

Blinken said, “We share concerns that in recent years China has been acting more aggressively at home and more aggressively in the region.”

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