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A time for barbecues, street cricket and long nights with a cool drink.

At the other end of the world, Norway is sinking in the winter, with freezing temperatures, and its people might be looking for Glogg, a traditional mulled wine.

It is the polar opposite of Australia, but the two nations have at least one similarity.

They both know the experience of being put in the diplomatic freezer by China.

And anyone wondering how long it could last for Australia just needs to look back at 2010.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra. (Alex Ellinghausen)

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded by the Norwegian committee to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

In a matter of days, a meeting of ministers was canceled and coldness was shown for six years.

Australia’s relationship with China has deteriorated since the Turnbull government introduced foreign interference laws in 2018 and banned Huawei from deploying the 5G network.

This year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched an independent investigation into the coronavirus.

All three decisions are on top of a list of 14 complaints delivered by a Chinese embassy official to 9News more than two weeks ago.

Since then, the relationship has soured even more.

A blurry copy of the manipulated image tweeted by a Chinese diplomat depicting an Australian soldier. (Twitter)

Exorbitant tariffs on wine and barley. Lobsters that go off while waiting for fake sanitary checks. Coal exports got into the slow lane.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry tweeted a manipulated image to show an Australian soldier threatening an Afghan boy with a bloody knife.

The problems between Australia and China were not about trade issues, but about political decisions made to protect Australian sovereignty and democracy, and to give politicians and the media the right to speak freely.

The embassy official told 9News that China was prepared to go further in an attempt to embarrass Australia on the world stage by raising questions about the treatment of indigenous Australians and the elderly.

Days later, the Chief of Defense released gruesome allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan after a four-year investigation.

This was a tragic gift to a Chinese government seeking a way to accuse Australia of hypocrisy for speaking out about human rights atrocities in Xinjiang and defending democracy activists in Hong Kong.

Chinese soldiers march during a parade in Moscow. (AP)

Since the wine tariffs affect Australian exporters and producers, ministers are not yet able to speak directly to their Chinese counterparts.

At the meeting with 9News, an official from the Chinese embassy laughed when he said the relationship was being treated at a “very low” level.

On Friday, Wang Xining, the deputy chief of mission for the Chinese embassy, ​​was among a group of diplomats who spent nearly half an hour listening to Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s request for confidence in the Indo-Pacific.

It was a message to trust Australia in trade, in diplomacy.

For the government, the 14 complaints revealed why China’s message on trade tariffs and disputes could not be trusted.

The charismatic Mr. Xining denied that the complaints were lawsuits, but called for “concrete action by Australia to promote an atmosphere conducive to stronger collaboration and bring our relationship back to normal.”

Wang Xining, Deputy Head of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in Australia, during his speech to the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra. (Alex Ellinghausen)

What are “concrete actions”?

The Attorney General was unsure, Christian Porter told reporters: “I think there is a degree to which it will take some patience and obviously dialogue.”

The Australian government has made it clear that it will not give ground on the list of complaints, but clearly wants to restart.

After the prime minister’s fury earlier this week over the Australian soldier’s tweet, the government has tried to cool down the tensions.

The reality is that the relationship couldn’t be much colder.

Australian exports affected by tariffs and the Beijing slowdown do not affect China significantly.

There are other raw materials that can be touched, such as cereals. The Chinese market also accounts for 80 percent of Australia’s iron ore exports.

If Beijing even slowed down ships, as it has done for coal, that would really shake Australia up and the pressure on the government would increase enormously.

The Norway effect shows that the icy relationship could last for years, because in China’s view there is no way out of the freezer unless Australia changes.

But in the words of a government minister, “We will not be in favor of change.”


www.9news.com.au

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