China is trying to drive Australia to its knees: U.S.

Kurt M. Campbell | Photo Credit: THOMAS PETER
AFP Sydney 01 December 2021 22:29 IST
Updated: 01 December 2021 22:29 IST

‘Beijing engaging in economic warfare’

U.S. President Joe Biden’s top Pacific envoy on Wednesday accused China of trying to “drive Australia to its knees” through a barrage of sanctions that amounted to “economic warfare”.

In remarks to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute, veteran diplomat Kurt Campbell lampooned Beijing for strong-arm tactics.

Painting China as increasingly bellicose and determined to impose its will overseas, Campbell said Beijing had engaged in “really dramatic economic warfare — directed against Australia”.


Over the last two years, China has introduced a raft of punitive sanctions on Australian goods in a fierce political dispute that has frozen ministerial contacts and plunged relations into the most serious crisis since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

“China’s preference would have been to break Australia. To drive Australia to its knees,” said Mr. Campbell, who currently serves as the White House Indo-Pacific coordinator.

China has been angered at Australia’s willingness to legislate against overseas influence operations, to bar Huawei from 5G contracts and to call for an independent probe into the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Australian barley, coal, copper ores, cotton, hay, logs, rock lobsters, sugar, wine, beef, citrus fruit, grains, table grapes, dairy products and infant formula have all been subject to Chinese sanctions.

He said that under President Xi Jinping, China has become “more risk acceptant, more assertive, more determined to basically take steps that other countries would view as coercive”.