China Tells Australia to Drop 'Cold War Mentality' Before Talks Can Resume

Relations between China and Australia have soured in recent years, beginning with the blocking of Chinese telecom giant Huawei in 2018. This year, tensions rose further after China slapped tariffs on Australian imports after Canberra called for an investigation into the coronavirus outbreak.

The Australian government has been warned that ministers in Beijing will not be answering phone calls from their Canberra counterparts unless Scott Morrison's government drops its "cold war mentality" and stops seeing China as a strategic threat.

Speaking to the Guardian Australia on Friday, a Chinese embassy official urged Canberra to decide if it considers Beijing to be a “threat” or an “opportunity”, establishing a major precondition for restarting ministerial-level negotiations, which were halted earlier this year.

The embassy chief placed responsibility on the Australian government for repairing diplomatic ties, asking them to reflect on its options “to arrest the decline of the bilateral relationship” and establish a more amicable atmosphere for talks.

“Of course you can say it takes two people to tango but here, you see, the problem is all caused by the Australian side”, said the official, who asked not to be named.

“We think that the cold war mentality should be discarded so that China can be seen as an opportunity and not a threat. Otherwise the whole trajectory will be derailed".

A Pacific Issue?

China remains uninterested in holding ministerial or leader-level discussions unless Australia makes obvious steps to create a friendlier atmosphere for talks.

“The problem is caused by the Australian side,” the Chinese embassy official said on Friday.

“China is trying to send a message that Australia should change the mentality of how you look at China and its development and whether it’s an opportunity or a threat – that is the issue."

Australia’s provocative, confrontational moves, as well as its erroneous words & deeds on issues concerning China’s core interests & major concerns, are the crux of the current difficulties in China-Australia relations. Australia must correct its mistakes by taking real actions.

— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) November 19, 2020