AUKUS: Images from Xi Jinping’s visit to Australia in 2014 show how relations have deteriorated
This image highlighted one of Australia’s best relationships with international leaders at the time, now it shows how much it has fallen apart.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Madam Peng Liyuan greet each other as they prepare to leave Sydney.
No one knew at the time how much would change as the current situation saw the Chinese government reject Premier Scott Morrison’s claim that President Xi had an “open invitation” to resume political talks between the two. .
In 2014, however, President Xi visited Sydney after the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane and the signing of a landmark trade deal between Australia and China in Canberra.
As then Prime Minister Tony Abbott bade farewell, President Xi declared the visit “a few remarkable days for the life of our country.”
In fact, the visit was such a success, in a farewell speech to President Xi, Abbott boldly asserted, “Today Team China is here to meet with Team Australia.”
The free trade agreement removed tariffs in the resource and agricultural sectors, with President Xi only the second Chinese leader to address the federal parliament. His father, Xi Zhongxun, was the first in 1979.
“What we achieved is unimaginable over two decades ago,” President Xi said at the time.
“My personal experience has given me the impression that overwhelming changes have taken place in this relationship and what we have achieved is unimaginable two decades ago.
“I am really satisfied with my visit and I firmly believe that this visit will give a strong impetus to our bilateral relations.
Considering the gargantuan trade deal signed between the countries, Abbott said, “Not only have we signed a historic trade deal, but President Xi delivered one of the most magnificent speeches ever heard in our parliament,” he said. he said, referring to President Xi’s speech where he reflected on “common humanity, common dreams, common aspirations … and a better world that we all want to build” of Australia and China.
“I personally felt very privileged to have spent so much time with President Xi and to have felt so much warmth with him,” Abbott said, saying the visit was one of the fondest memories. remarkable in his life.
Earlier today, in a room at the Four Season Hotel filled with some of Australia’s top leaders of the day – Western Australian Prime Minister Colin Barnett, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and Prime Minister from New South Wales Mike Baird – President Xi said the visit and trade deal was a “new milestone in relations” and a “golden opportunity”.
President Xi even praised South Australian Prime Minister Jay Weatherill for the state’s Penfolds wines.
This is a far cry from the tariffs on wine that China imposed on the country in December of last year. We are far from China calling Australia a “nuclear threat” and “nuclear target” overnight.
In fact, no one could have predicted that the deterioration of the relationship was coming. Especially not Mr. Abbott: “I know Australia will benefit from these days; I think China will take advantage of these days; I hope the world will benefit from these days, ”he said in 2014.
In the years to come, the expansion of Chinese naval territory and man-made islands in the South China Sea and President Xi’s determination to stay on indefinitely while talking about unifying mainland China and Taiwan before he leaves office. have become a “disturbing footnote,” Professor Greg Barton. , a security expert from Deakin University, told the ABC.
“In a way, it happened while we were taking a nap,” he said, saying the West’s focus on the war in Afghanistan let China slip through the cracks. .
Fast forward seven years, and a new agreement between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom shattered relations between China after slowly deteriorating.
The three countries announced that a “partnership forever” would focus on the increasingly tense situation in the Indo-Pacific and would involve Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines and more advanced military technologies, including long range Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The deal, experts say, shows a dramatic political shift between the alliances.
“This shows how China’s relations with other key countries have collapsed in recent times,” said Stephen McDonell of the BBC.
“In a way, Australia is in a way the poster child for the failure of Chinese soft power.
“It looks like Xi Jinping was in Australia yesterday to go to football, wearing a headscarf, now you have Australia saying they are going to build nuclear powered submarines.”
On Thursday evening, China continued its angry reaction to the monumental and historic security pact signed by Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
In a scathing rebuke Thursday evening, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called the United States “extremely irresponsible” and rejected Premier Scott Morrison’s claim that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had an “open invitation” to resume political talks between the two.
“Morrison’s ambition could have destructive consequences for his country if nuclear war breaks out,” China retorted in a World time editorial.
This time, there is not a cavalcade of supporters beating drums and waving Chinese flags.
The scenes bidding farewell to President Xi as he exited the Four Seasons hotel and climbed the stairs to say goodbye on his return flight, calling for closer ties between Australian states and Chinese provinces , are only a distant memory.
“I firmly believe that we need to further promote relations at the state and provincial levels,” President Xi said.
“I hope you can seize the opportunity, maintain an advantage, move forward with the times and focus on the development strategies of both countries.”