China initiated an anti-dumping investigation against Australian wine. Previously, China had increased tariffs on Australian barley. Why did China do this? Is there merit to this claim?

  • 4
    Australia is in alliance with India.
    – user366312
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 11:47
  • 16
    @user366312 So? Loads of countries are allied with India. Is there any reason for China to specifically target Australia, out of all those countries?
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 11:53
  • Not to mention warning students against going to Australia, and deciding to choose this time to try and sentence a person to death for drug smuggling, and "warning" about boycotts by Chinese consumers.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 12:02
  • 2
    Hobbling Huawei: Inside the U.S. war on China’s tech giant [May 21, 2019]: "For months, Australia warned the United States about the destructive capacity of 5G technology. Now, America is aggressively campaigning against Chinese telecom champion Huawei, fearful Beijing’s domination of 5G could be used for espionage and sabotage." Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 22:42

4 Answers 4


It's because they previously saw Australia as a weak link in the Western democratic alliance, and are not happy that they are now firmly siding with the U.S. and other Five Eyes.

Australia has long been open to Chinese investment and immigration, and until recently had remained, if not neutral, at least moderate in their stance on issues such as sovereignty of the South China Sea.

However, over the last couple of years, Australia has carried out a campaign against what they see as undue political and economic influence. For example, they have recently passed a new law to prevent foreign political interference, and launched reviews into foreign interference on university campuses. During the COVID outbreak, Australia called for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus, which China interpreted as a frontal attack.

While many in the West may consider Australia's actions quite reasonable, China has correctly noted that it marks a inflection point in relations, with Australia changing from being relatively "compliant" with regard to political matters in return for generous trade privileges, to being firmly within the multi-lateral consensus of the Five Eyes. From their perspective, it is a big change.

  • 3
    As shown in your link, Turnbull's anti-foreign-interference bill (ie. not Morrison's) was passed in 2018. (ie. not "recently") Per Turnbull himself, the moment the bill passed, Chinese campaign against it stopped. Making anti-interference law without specifying its date seems misleading.
    – Argyll
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 1:20
  • 3
    Also "During the COVID outbreak, Australia called for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus, which for reasons really only known to them, China interpreted as a frontal attack." The plausible reasons don't need to articulated by "them". China is not a system that in any precedence allowed foreign journalistic access to its civil workers. Without journalistic access, without legal jurisdiction -- and any Chinese investigation will not be considered as independent, what is a possible independent investigation?
    – Argyll
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 1:23
  • 3
    Thus the Chinese side can view such call a deliberate political stunt to damage its reputation. It happens to be a common thing to call for in the West for domestic issues. It is questionable whether such a call would be appropriate by a govt, which obviously understands the impracticality when it is international diplomacy. Ignoring the obvious nuances, the particular phrasing which for reasons really only known to them is rather disingenuous.
    – Argyll
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 1:25
  • 3
    I see obvious issues in 2 out of the 2 topics I have prior knowledge of. I don't know about the other topics. So it is shocking to me that this answer is already accepted by OP.
    – Argyll
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 1:35
  • @Argyll. I clarified the timing of the bill as you noted, and also removed the phrase you object to, mainly because it is irrelevant to my central point which still stands. I'll let others decide whether an investigation into a disease that has killed many thousands of people and led to the worst economic collapse in living memory is justified or not. Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 8:25

According to a piece on The Conversation, "China used anti-dumping rules against us because what goes around comes around":

Australia was among the first wave of countries to adopt anti-dumping legislation alongside Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Britain in the early years of the 20th Century.

It remains a prolific user of the system compared to other countries, with an outsized number of measures imposed against imports from one country, China, and imports of one product, steel.

In other words, China is targeting Australia with anti-dumping measures because Australia has long targeted China. Or at least, this is clearly an important part of the reason.

The article includes the following data, which shows that China is targeted more than any other country by Australia's current anti-dumping measures. The original Australian government source of this data shows 17 "Dumping Measures" and 9 "Countervailing Measures" against China.

enter image description here

  • 4
    I find it hard to believe that China is now reacting to trade issues from 100 years ago. They are, justly so, very sensitive how they got mistreated by Western powers and Japan in that time period, but 1900s anti-dumping has naught to do with 2020 wine. Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 17:38
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica It's probably more about the present than the past. I'll add to my answer the graph that shows that as of March 2020, China is more affected then any other country by Australia's current anti-dumping measures.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 18:13
  • 1
    ok, good take at providing a different perspective. with all the huffing and puffing about China, sometimes we forget to look at reasonable grounds for disagreement. do keep in mind though that China is, by the very nature of its size, industry and commerce, going to be more often targeted by anti-dumping laws in countries that use those. so you might find it #1 on this type of list elsewhere, not just in Trump-land. but that's still a good thing to keep in mind. Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 19:31
  • 1
    @BrianZ maybe asking for a lot, but can your cross reference that graph with percent of imports from each of the countries shown? Either double bar or another graph if available? (+1 either way, I think there's more to it than just this, but can't exclude this/write it off)
    – TCooper
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 23:35
  • 1
    @TCooper Comparing legal measures taken to volume of trade doesn't strike me as a very meaningful comparison, but here's a start if you care to do the math: tradingeconomics.com/australia/imports-by-country To your point, China is Australia's largest trading partner.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 1:22

Oh, sure, Australia supported the investigation into China's initial covid handling and has been in the doghouse ever since. Why, they might even have mentioned the Uighurs! There's also been increasing Aussie unease about Chinese political activities in Australia.

(To be cynical, the Aussie PM got skewered for his position on global warming during the wildfires and might have found it politically useful to deflect attention elsewhere)

Basically, anytime someone steps on China's toes diplomatically, their coal ships have custom problems or their citizens get put in jail on trumped up charges.

This isn't a new phenomenon. Mentions of Tibet or visits to Taiwan have triggered similar coercions in the past.

The difference is that now China is big enough to matter and is on the way to surpassing US power in the next 20-30 yrs.

  • 2
    Australia (and USA) is falling into en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thucydides_Trap Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 23:09
  • 1
    Yup, I read Destined for War and it is a sobering book. The authors analyzed about 20 different historical situations where country A started out dominant, but then then country B came along and started gaining ground. The case for Athens and Sparta providing the title for the book. In 70% of the cases, a large scale war ensued, as either A tried to block B or B tried to take over sooner. It will take a lot better leadership than what either the US or China currently have at this time to get the world through this safely. Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 16:53
  • With the USSR or with Nazi Germany, there was no question of accommodation, these were political systems that had to be resisted. Before Xi, one could envision a gradually more assertive, powerful, but also peaceful China. Now that is not so sure, they're not an obvious evil empire, yet, but the signs are not good with their "reeducation camps", high censorship, intolerance of dissent and increasing threats to their "near abroad". The world really really doesn't need Cold War 2, but China risks being too difficult to just transition into the US's current position. Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 16:58
  • This could do with some evidence of the actual claims and a clarification on who "they" is in regards to Australia. From the other answer I surmise that the ruling government called for the investigation but I don't know who "might even have" mentioned Uyghurs. If they did I can understand why China is unhappy with them but it's still missing the why the chose economic sanctions with an actual effect rather than just making pissy statements like they do in response to US representatives' criticisms or with sanctions that don't have an actual effect (like the sanction on Sen. Cruz).
    – gormadoc
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 17:12
  • 3
    @gormadoc re. last part it seems rather obvious. China is a big seller to the US, but the most important buyer for Australia. They need the US to buy, but Australia needs them to buy. "they" for the Uighurs is a quip, though I am sure some Aussie mouthed off about them, but the core message stands: China is punishing Australia for daring to disagree with it. Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 17:28

China's annoyance at Australia had an earlier beginning, too.

In 2009, a Chinese mineral company Minmetals was expecting to take over Ozminerals. This story on the ABC has a good overview. It would have given China a handy inside position in iron ore imports from Australia. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-03-27/national-security-cited-as-chinese-oz-minerals/1633314 I can't remember the detail for sure now but i think that Rio Tinto also had a hand in the matter one way or another.

The Foreign Investment Review Board blocked the deal.

This decision would have, in retrospect, surprised China, and perhaps set the first step on what would later become, as shown by the excellent comments above, a larger pathway.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .