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The China Trade Problem Isn’t Really about Trade

We have a new Trade Minister and his first challenge is China. Dan Tehan comes into the portfolio at a time when China has placed embargoes of one kind or another on Australian lamb, beef, wine, barley, even lobsters — just about everything except iron ore. The Chinese government is so intent on lashing out that it has restricted winter heating for its own people, rather than allow them to burn Australian coal.

Clearly, we have a China problem. But trade sanctions are just the symptoms, not the disease. China doesn’t really have any trade disputes with Australia, and it is hard to identify any actual provocations to justify the Chinese government’s warning that “if you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy”.

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Sydney-based globalization expert Salvatore Babones is available to speak on the Chinese economy (demographics, growth, technology), the Belt & Road Initiative, global trade networks, and Australia-China relations. Contact: