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Analysis: How a 'vast ocean of goodwill' between China and Australia turned sour

November 20, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Earlier this year, amid growing global anger over China's initial handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Australia was among the first countries to call for an official investigation into the virus' origins.

In recent months, China has hit Australia with trade tariffs, targeted Australian journalists, and issued angry missives regarding Canberra's dealings with other regional powers.

Just six years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed a "vast ocean of goodwill between China and Australia. " This has soured since, however, as Beijing increasingly flexed its muscles -- pressuring the smaller nation diplomatically and economically, and allegedly interfering in Australian politics.

Michael Shoebridge, a national security expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said Canberra's approach with Beijing -- which previously focused "wholly on the mutual advantage of economic engagement" -- shifted as Xi "aggressively used Chinese strategic, military, cyber, technological and economic power against Australia's and others' interests, not just internationally, but also inside our own nations. "

As ties with Beijing have frayed, the two countries have entered a spiral of worsening relations: the more China pressures Australia, the closer Canberra moves to other regional powers -- particularly India and Japan -- and doubles down on its relationship with the US, in part through the increasing militarizing of the Quad, an alliance between all four countries.

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