Interview with Natalie Barr, Sunrise

  • Transcript
Subjects: Australia-China relationship; Belt and Road Agreement.
07 May 2021

Natalie Barr: Well back now to Trade Minister Dan Tehan on Australia’s growing diplomatic standoff with China. Dan Tehan, morning to you again. Relations with China, obviously, under increasing pressure. That’s been in the news in the last few weeks. Are you concerned by this latest development?

Dan Tehan: It’s disappointing. We want to have a dialogue with China. We want to be able to work through our differences. We have a very important economic relationship, which has helped both countries. It’s lifted millions out of poverty in China, it helps our standard of living here in Australia and our hope is that we will be able to have a dialogue over time and work through these differences.

Barr: But, when you ripped up that Belt and Road Agreement their representative said: you can’t just milk the cow and then discard it. How are you going to turn around this situation?

Tehan: That was a country agnostic decision. What the Government did was make sure that it was the Federal Government which is in control and sets the policy when it comes to our foreign relations and that decision wasn’t about China. It also impacted on other countries as well and it was about centralising control of our foreign policy. So, we will continue to explain through our officials that these are country agnostic decisions and that we want a dialogue, and that the best way to work through our differences is through dialogue.

Barr: And so, what if they don’t listen? They’re taking our iron ore at record prices, what if they turn off the tap?

Tehan: Well, ultimately, in the end, trade helps both countries in this relationship. Our economies are very complementary. So, we’re able to provide resources, food, agricultural products, services to China. Likewise, we import goods from China as well and this works well for both countries. So, if decisions are taken which impact on our commercial relationship, ultimately, in the end, it harms both nations and that’s why we want to sit down and be able to have a dialogue with China and work through these issues.

Barr: Okay. Dan Tehan, thanks for your time.

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