US officials back Australia amid growing tensions with relations

Australia’s decision to call for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus which sparked tensions with China has been applauded by two senior US officials.

The push for an investigation into how the pandemic started has resulted in China putting hefty tariffs on Australian barley in retaliation.

Speaking on Sky News’ series The Alliance, Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, said China’s recent actions show the nation is “running a very coercive diplomatic routine”.

Admiral Davidson praised the Australian government for sticking by the decision despite the growing pressure from China.

“My message to ­ordinary Australians is this: the sovereignty of our nations, our ability to choose, should be independent of coercion,” he said.

“Sometimes that makes for tough choices. I ­applaud Australia’s leadership on both the issues they decided they had to sit on. I know the US will be alongside.”

US ­ambassador Arthur Culvahouse also raised concerns about the growing influence China has around the world.

“Our concern is not the Chinese people. Our concern is about the current government of China and the Chinese Communist Party and the malign influence that they are increasingly exercising in the region and throughout the world,” he said.

This comes as the Chinese government warned Australia to “distance” itself from the US amid growing tensions between the two countries, saying it would be “extremely dangerous” for Canberra to get involved.

Beijing warned that any show of support for the US could deliver the Australian economy a “fatal blow”.

“If the Trump administration plunges the world into a ‘new Cold War,’ forcing China to take countermeasures against the US and its allies, it would be extremely dangerous for Canberra to become a player in a diplomatic club led by the US, given Australia’s high dependence on the Chinese economy,” said an article in the Global Times, which is widely seen as the Chinese government’s media mouthpiece.

“Once Australia is regarded as a supporter of the US in a ‘new Cold War,’ China-Australia economic ties will inevitably suffer a fatal blow.

“This is why Canberra needs to closely watch Washington’s attacks which include placing Chinese firms on its sanctions backlist.”

There have been multiple articles of this nature appearing in the publication over the last week.

Two articles published last week came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s criticised China for its “economic retribution” against Australia in the form of tariffs.

The state-owned newspaper said Australians would be “foolish” and “naive” to believe that the US is a reliable ally.

“The Trump administration has been hyping China’s so-called responsibilities for the coronavirus outbreak to deflect criticism from its botched response to the public health crisis and to score points in the geopolitical competition with China.

“‘The US stands with Australia’ is verbal support without substance.”

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