SNAPSHOTS

With an Apparent Coal Ban, China Ups the Cost of Australia’s Political Defiance

MIN READOct 14, 2020 | 17:11 GMT

A pile of briquettes, which are compressed blocks of coal dust, is seen in Melbourne, Australia, in March 2017.

A pile of briquettes, which are compressed blocks of coal dust, is seen in Melbourne, Australia, in March 2017.

(Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Reports that China has halted purchases of Australian coal suggest Beijing is increasing economic pressure to curb Canberra’s more confrontational stance. Such moves, however, are unlikely to inhibit Australia’s greater strategic shift to rebalance against Chinese encroachment in the region. On Oct. 14, leaks indicated that around 850,000 tonnes of Australian coking coal on ten Panamax vessels bound for China was being diverted to other markets. This follows an Oct. 13 confirmation from Australia's trade ministry that it was determining whether Beijing has suspended purchases of Australian coking and thermal coal. Reports from the day before indicate that Chinese officials told most large power stations and steel mills in early October to halt the use of Australian coal. Many ports were also reportedly told not to offload the product, causing buyers to respond by halting purchases for fear they wouldn’t clear customs. If confirmed, China's suspension of Australian coal purchases...

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