As China slowly strangles our exports to break our will, Australians have responded with a range of emotions from anger and denunciation to self-blame and resignation. Difficult though it may be, we cannot afford to let emotion cloud our response to Beijing’s pressure tactics. Cool heads are required and, above all, an astutely targeted strategy that shields us from irreparable damage while working to stabilise the relationship and keep the door open to some form of reconciliation, no matter how distant the prospect.
But first we need to understand better why China is punishing Australia. This means cutting through the confused reactions and misperceptions that have obscured China’s real aims and tactics. Asserting we should “keep a low profile” or avoid “irritating China” is not a strategy.