On March 12, VOA cited Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst with the U.S.-based global policy think tank Rand Corporation, saying that “China-Australian relations are maybe even worse than U.S.-China relations. It just seems like the atmospherics around China [and] Australia has hit a vitriolic level”.

According to VOA, relationships between Australia and China have fallen out steadily since 2013. This relationship is getting worse after Australia in April 2020 called for a probe into the origin of COVID-19, the pandemic that the Chinese government is accused of being partly responsible for its spread at the beginning.

In November that year, China stranded 53 Australian coal ships, applied tariffs on a series of Australia’s agricultural products.

This year, an Australian P-8A Poseidon military plane was illuminated by a laser coming from a Chinese naval vessel in February. In response to the Chinese action, Australia’s Defense Ministry said that the use of the laser is a “serious safety incident” with the “potential to endanger lives.”

On Thursday, March 10, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton announced that the country will increase military personnel by about 30% through 2040 to almost 80,000 people.

Commenting on this move, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “The first priority of my government is to keep Australians safe and to do that we need a bigger ADF [Australian Defence Force], with more soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women to operate the cutting-edge capabilities we’re getting to protect Australia.”

He added, “Our world is becoming increasingly uncertain, so it’s important we take steps now to protect our people, and our national interest, over the coming decades.”

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