Raby Former Australian diplomat blames Canberra: China, pointed out how the lack of strategy with its biggest trading partner has been costing Canberra both in terms of economic and political ties. Due to ongoing row between Canberra and Beijing over a series of issues, their relationship has spiralled downwards, hitting the lowest in decades. Raby categorically mentioned that his nation has been at the receiving end of this dispute as China imposed huge import duties on a range of goods imported from Australian, including barley, beef, wine, lobsters, cotton and timber. Beijing also completely blocked the delivery of Australian coal, transported in over 50 ships. Worst of all, he emphasised was zero direct contact between Chinese and Australian officials.
Raby, who has also worked at World Trade Organisation, said, “The problem with the Australian position is that it’s all tactics and no strategy.” He added that diplomacy “has been marginalized by the domestic foreign policy debate with respect to China. In other areas it’s been fine, but China policy has for many years been the domain of the security and defense establishment, and it’s that establishment that really is behind the current tit-for-tat retaliations with China, and the hardening of Australia’s positions against China.”
His recent book, titled “China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order”, Raby suggested that in order to combat the rising power of Beijing in the region, Australia should explore new markets but entirely shifting its focus away from China, hoping not to feel any economy jolt, would be a ‘wishful thinking’.
Raby, who served in Beijing as Australian diplomat from 2007 to 2011, argued that the Australian actions with respect to China demanded delicate diplomatic dialogue. He even slammed Australian PM’s raising the call for independent probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Raby said was a US agenda followed by Australia. He said the issue was pushed “at a time Trump was pummeling China over the ‘Wuhan virus.”
“We have, I believe, on a number of occasions made the Chinese leadership lose face, and I think that helps partly explain why the Chinese government’s reaction has been so tough,” Raby said.
This led to triggering of Cold War between to the two nations. Ruby said that Australia might need to work on its strategy towards China as so far it has been “incremental, reactive to others’ agendas, and as such, incoherent”. He highlighted that the recent military pact been Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga added fuel to fire. Raby said, “All the diplomacy around that (Scott’s) visit was deliberately aimed at China, – ‘Japan under new leadership will stand as firmly on issues with respect to China as the previous Abe leadership did.“
Former diplomat even blamed the pandemic for its doing, as he said, “In any other year, leaders would be in the same forum three, four, five times a year, so there would have been that many opportunities for the Australian prime minister to engage with either Premier Li Keqiang or President Xi Jinping.”
Raby also blamed China for its provoking and non-engaging role in the ongoing diplomatic row, including Chinese ambassador’s promotion of fake picture of an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife at an Afghan kid’s neck. He also said, “Clearly China is not engaging in ongoing ChAFTA discussions between trade ministers, so there are some serious issues. Dispute settlement through ChAFTA goes through consultation bilaterally, which of course we’re not able to do, and the alternative is the World Trade Organization. And really, I think these actions by China belong primarily with the WTO.