Australia is showing that smaller allies have agency and it's no easy matter for China to permanently coerce democracies into subservience. But there is a long way to go. Australian determination to hold its ground and absorb pain is one thing — but Beijing will have others in its sights, and the test for America is to help its other allies and partners demonstrate the same resolve.
Since 2010, China has perpetrated at least 150 instances of economic coercion against countries and firms. More than half of these occurred over the past two years and most have been directed toward Australia. Why? Australia was a seemingly easy target: heavily reliant on exporting minerals, energy, and agricultural goods, with more than one third of every Australian export dollar earned in the Chinese market. This makes Australia the most China-reliant advanced economy in the world from a trading perspective.