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China’s silence on Australia was not exactly silent

The republic did not really cut Australia off its iron ore imports

China’s climb to dominate the iron ore market remains steady despite blocking imports from the world’s top producer. China’s halting Australia was over an allegation about a laboratory leak of COVID-19. That resulted in the latter getting struck off the top importer’s supplier list.

A surprisingly twist

It was natural for Australia to be uncomfortable losing its biggest customer, after all this is between two titans. China certainly had the industry bamboozled that it was done with Australia and the grudge will last a while. However, China imported $12.3 billion worth of Australian iron ore in May 2021. This was confirmed by data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

While this bodes well for Australia on the assumption the import does not cease totally, the real reason behind the spat was over a statement suggesting a lab leak in China by an Australian government official. He implied the leak catalysed the COVID-19 pandemic, which devastated economies. The country’s push for an investigation only fanned the flames. Though its call for an investigation on basis this is no minor pandemic coming from China is warranted, Beijing was certainly not on the same page.

In a surprising twist, the reason behind China’s stonewalling Australia was unveiled. Zhao Lijian, Deputy Director of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed that Beijing targeted Australia for economic punishment. He made it clear it targeting Australian goods was a deliberate move. Zhao asserted, “We will not allow any country to reap benefits from doing business with China, while groundlessly accusing and smearing China and undermining China’s core interests based on ideology.”

Making sense of the maths

Australia’s undisputed position as a top iron ore producer would discredit the rationale of being written off by a top importer unless there is something grave. In 2020 China imported more iron ore than any other nation in the world by an enormous margin, taking 75.4 per cent of global import supplies. The second placed iron ore importer was Japan, with 6.1 per cent of global imports. In 2020, Australia exported 56 per cent of the world’s iron ore, followed by Brazil on 18.4 per cent. The maths revealed if China indeed cut Australia off its supplier list, all its imports are only half of the country’s total iron ore needs.


Marine Online News Team
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