SCMP: Coronavirus exposes Australia's double standard

In an article posted on the South China Morning Post (SCMP) website, Australia-based financial market and political analyst Daryl Guppy accused Australia of applying a double standard in how it treats China and the United Kingdom amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guppy compared the differences in Australia's policies against China, UK, U.S. and other Western countries, highlighting discrepancies in Australia's treatment of their citizens. 

On February 1, 2020, Australia banned foreign nationals on flights from the Chinese mainland, "including those in mid-air, just one week after Wuhan had gone into lockdown." The ban remained in place all through 2020 and has yet to be lifted.

By contrast, tourists from Italy were not banned until March 2020, and although the U.S. was already "on its way to becoming the epicenter of the pandemic," American tourists were still allowed to visit Australia. Meanwhile, "Australian citizens, residents and their immediate family members have been able to arrive in the country from Britain, despite its surging infection rates," Guppy wrote.

Also, though British health secretary Matt Hancock admitted that a new variant of the coronavirus was first identified in the English county of Kent in December 2020, Australia has still not banned tourists from the country. In fact, the Australian national cabinet has only recently decided to impose preflight coronavirus testing on passengers coming from Britain.

As a result, Guppy pointed out that Australia now has a growing number of cases of the COVID-19 variant that originated in Britain, "some of which are contained in quarantine facilities for returning travelers."

Citing historical events, Guppy suggested that political roots are behind Australia's actions and said it harks back to the country's "colonial past as a European outpost in Asia." 

He said in 2003, Australian Prime Minister John Howard accepted then-U.S. President George W. Bush's description of Australia as a "sheriff" of Asia.

In May 2019, Australia rejected the UN motion condemning Britain's occupation of the Chagos Islands.

In February 2020, Australia announced plans to militarize the Cocos (Keeling) Islands so that the airfield there could support the deployment of a Boeing P8-A Poseidon aircraft.

Furthermore, Guppy said Australia has been pressuring Pacific island nations to reject development assistance from China and warning countries and regions about China's so-called vaccine diplomacy but gave no alternatives.

Guppy said Australia's double standard undermines not only its already poor relations with China but also its ties with the rest of the continent.

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