Australia's allies are not doing enough to protect it from "bullying" by China, a Kiwi academic believes, and should look to New Zealand as an example of how to offer genuine support.
Anne Marie Brady, a politics professor at Canterbury University, praised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's support of Australia in the conflict and called on other countries to follow suit in a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.
Scott Morrison's government has been locked in a war of words with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after their Foreign Minister Zhao Lijian shared a doctored image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child on Twitter.
The image - a reference to a recent report alleging Australian special forces unlawfully killed 39 Afghans - appears to be a reaction to Australian measures to defend itself from political interference by the CCP.
Having already imposed tariffs on its wine and barley exports, China has threatened to impose even more economic sanctions against Australia - a burdensome prospect for a country that exports 39 percent of its goods there.
After Morrison's Morrison's demands for an apology from the CCP went unheeded, New Zealand tentatively weighed into the conflict between the two global superpowers on Tuesday.
Ardern and Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta both raised issue with the image, directly expressing concern with China over the image and describing it as "not factually correct".
"We always conduct our relationship in our own interests," Ardern told reporters. "We will speak up on issues that we have concerns about, we will stick to our independent foreign policy, but that doesn't stop us observing what is happening with others."
In her piece for SMH, Prof Brady says Australia's allies can do more to help in the face of "systemic bullying", and should join New Zealand in standing up to China.
"Australia's friends and allies can do more to help, by looking for ways to partner economically and speaking up in support as the Ardern government has done. I call this the united front against the united front," she wrote.
"In so doing, they will help to lessen the pull of Australia having to make political concessions to China for economic benefit, which was the Faustian choice made by previous governments.
"We can all commit to drinking a lot more Australian wine and looking out for Australian barley in the supermarket."
However Prof Brady said while Australia-China relations appear to be at their lowest ebb, she expects the tension will "eventually trail off", in the same way "China's many other tongue wars have done".
Prof Brady, who has carried out extensive research on the CCP's influence in the West, claimed in 2018 that China's spy agency was behind a series of burglaries of her home that were "intended to intimidate" her into silence.
This view was backed by former CIA analyst Peter Mattis - who said if such an action succeeded in intimidating her into silence, it would be "a major win" for the CCP - and by Australia's own government, who described China as the "prime suspect".
The burglaries prompted Australian and American academics who do similar research on China to beef up their own security.