According to Voice of Hope, on Jan. 26, 2022, Australia will hold a general election in May this year. Anthony Albanese, the leader of the Australian opposition party, the Labor Party, said on Tuesday, Jan. 25, that if Labor wins this year’s election, Australia’s relationship with China will not improve. This is the first time in more than a decade that a Labor leader has expressed this attitude.
According to the Associated Press, Albanese expressed this view at an informal campaign event held for the National Press Club on Jan. 25. He said the belligerent behavior of this country triggered the deterioration of Australia-China relations. But, he added, “Australia hasn’t changed, what has changed is China.”
“I don’t deny that a change of government will change relations with other countries, and that’s something we all have to address. And the relationship with China will be a difficult one to deal with no matter who is in power. It’s a difficult relationship because China has changed its posture ‘because China has changed, not Australia,’ I don’t blame the current government because of the current relationship between Australia and China.'”
In his speech, he criticized the current government for halting aid to Asia-Pacific countries, a move that has allowed China to expand its influence in the region. He said, “The current administration’s move to eliminate aid to the Asia-Pacific region is short-sighted. If Australia and the democracies pull out, there will be others who will want to fill that space.”
Albanese also described the three pillars of his Labor government’s foreign policy that will be in place: the Australia-US alliance, Australia’s relationship with regional partners, and Australia’s relationship with multilateral organizations like the United Nations.
Albanese was the deputy prime minister of the Australian Labor government when the Labor government was defeated by the Conservative Coalition in 2013.
Relations between Australia and China have deteriorated significantly during the last 13 years, from a high point in 2014 to a low point in 2018. With ties deteriorating in 2017, Malcolm Turnbull, the second prime minister of Australia’s conservative coalition government, altered its treason and espionage statute, making it illegal to tamper with the government secretly.
Following Scott Morrison’s election as Prime Minister in 2018, Australian intelligence agencies decided in 2019 that China was behind the hacking of Australia’s Parliament and three major political parties in the run-up to the 2018 election. When the Morrison administration led the international community in calling for an impartial investigation into the source of COVID-19 in 2020, China retaliated. They considerably increased taxes on coal, barley, wine, steel, and other items imported from Australia, further damaging relations between the two countries. In general, Australian exporters have backed Prime Minister Morrison’s approach.