Sino-Australian ties deteriorated in 2020, when Beijing imposed 80 percent tariffs on Australian barley imports in response to the Pacific nation’s call for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.
Former Australian State Trade Minister Tom Kenyon has urged Canberra to sever its economic ties with Beijing, drawing parallels between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mao Zedong.
In an interview with the news outlet Weekend Australian on Saturday, Kenyon, who earlier backed a Chinese Consulate in suburban Adelaide, said that Australia “needs to begin disengaging economically from China or, at the very least, limiting” its “exposure to the Chinese economy”.
According to him, relations between Australia and China have “fundamentally changed” since he served as trade minister in the 2010s.
Kenyon recalled that when he took the ministerial portfolio at the time, those were the final days of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s term “and Australia, along with the rest of the world, had been engaging with China”, expecting Beijing “to become more open and more collegiate”.
The ex-trade minister argued that all this changed “within a few months when current and now-permanent President Xi Jinping took over, as well as continuing his role heading the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]”.