If you think U.S. relations with China have gone downhill, just look at Australia’s.
In April, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international inquiry into the origins of the new coronavirus. China, the inquiry’s presumed target, was quick to retaliate: It imposed 80.5% tariffs on Australian barley, banned imports of beef from four Australian slaughterhouses and warned Chinese citizens against traveling to the country. Australia was called “this giant kangaroo that serves as a dog of the U.S.” in the Global Times, a nationalist Chinese newspaper.
What two years ago was mostly a confrontation between China and the U.S. is becoming a broader showdown with the advanced democracies. Other countries were already worried about China’s pursuit of technological dominance, discriminatory trade practices, geostrategic assertiveness and domestic repression. Those worries intensified this year with China’s alleged lack of candor early in the coronavirus pandemic and its imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong.
Britain is now weighing whether to exclude China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from its 5G telecommunications network after saying it could participate. Japan has offered subsidies to companies to reshore supply chains from China.
The European Union just levied landmark tariffs against Chinese-subsidized companies based outside China. This month, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China was formed, bringing together China-skeptic legislators from across the political spectrum in a dozen countries: Britain’s Labor and Conservatives, Germany’s Christian Democrats and Greens, and in the U.S., Democrats and Republicans.
This is welcome news for the Trump Administration, which has long sought to rally its allies to help contain China’s technological and military ambitions. In a recent overview of its China strategy, the National Security Council declared: “The United States will work with our robust network of allies and like-minded partners to resist attacks on our shared norms and values, within our own governance institutions, around the world, and in international organizations.”