Andrew Forrest is a passionate patriot but there’s a complicated backdrop to Canberra’s fury about his willingness to provide a platform for China’s consul general last week.

If anything, Chinas strong demand for resource exports like iron ore, for example, seems likely to continue unabated no matter the political tension.
Chinas own economic self interest demands it. Its more discretionary spending in areas like Australian tourism, international education and food and wine exports at greater risk of retaliation with an economic impact that would be felt across the country.
So its also no coincidence these were the potential examples cited by the Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingje in his explosive, politically counter productive interview with The Australian Financial Review a week ago.
Chinas anger about Australias push for an independent international inquiry into the origins and handling of COVID-19 is typical of Xi Jinping’s increasingly aggressive reaction to any global criticism of China’s behaviour.
The case for such an inquiry remains, of course, unarguable if not quite unremarkable as the Prime Minister describes it.
But the Morrison governments demand has inevitably become part of the much larger strategic struggle between China and the US particularly under a President keen to assign blame for the economic and health disaster stalking him ahead of the US election.
It also gets caught up in the political arguments over the World Health Organisation and China’s influence over international organisations in the wake of Donald Trumps decision to suspend WHO’s funding.
That means European countries are even less interested in taking up Australias public call now, not least when they are in the midst of battling the COVID-19 crisis.
Yet with Foreign Minister Marise Payne making her big announcement in an ABC interview two weeks ago without the diplomatic cover of public endorsement by other governments, Australia becomes the obvious target for Chinas ire – at relatively little cost to China.
The potential cost to Australia is far more obvious. Even if the ambassadors threats are not followed through, the diplomatic relationship has become increasingly poisonous in recent years.
Xi’s constant assertion of Chinas power in the region and ramping up of censorship and control domestically make Australia’s reaction a difficult balancing act.
Of course, Scott Morrisons willingness to stand up to Chinas threats of economic coercion has aroused strongly community backing , including by Labor, as well as the enthusiastic support of the Trump Administration.
But the governments decision to take an international public lead means the friction between Beijing and Canberra has become even more volatile.
Thats the complicated backdrop to Canberra’s fury about Andrew Forrests willingness to provide a  platform for Chinas consul general in Victoria during a joint press conference with Health Minister Greg Hunt.
The remarkable success of Fortescue Metals Group in China has freed Forrest to devote ever more time and money to his familys philanthropic work via the Minderoo Foundation.
He is a passionate patriot and proud of his ability to forge strong personal relationships and to experiment with new answers to seemingly intractable problems.
During the pandemic, that has included using his extensive contacts in China to source extremely scarce personal protective equipment and most recently 10 million testing kits at a time when normal procurement processes are no longer possible.
That also regularly involves Forrest expressing his gratitude and admiration for the assistance of the Chinese people.
Several weeks ago, Forrest had invited Chinas WA consul-general to speak at a similar press conference in Perth with WAs health minister, for example, without attracting criticism in a state accustomed to valuing the economic relationship with China.
But political outrage following the ambassadors threats and Hunts discomfort at not being forewarned about such an awkward joint appearance at a nationally covered event dramatically changed the dynamic last week.
The government was also incensed because Forrest had declared any inquiry should be put off until after the US election.
Another planned joint Hunt-Forrest press conference the following day to announce new funding of cancer treatment for kids was cancelled.
Nor was it only federal government sensitivities offended. The Australian community has become increasingly agitated about Chinas behaviour and suspicious of Xi Jinpings use of soft power to try to influence other countries.
It meant Forrests attempts to use the presence and speech of Long Zhou to instead celebrate the friendship and cooperation between the Australian and Chinese people instantly backfired into a welter of political recriminations in Canberra about him overstepping the mark.
One veteran China expert doesnt doubt Forrests motive in trying to help. But his heart is bigger than his judgment, he says.
A bruised Forrest released a personal statement Friday, insisting some of the coverage had been inaccurate or deliberately misleading.
I worry that Australia will be split down the middle in a similar manner to whats transpired in other countries and know that this incites racism and violence, he said.
Lets keep our hearts and minds open to all countries, including America and China.
But Canberras mind about such advice has slammed shut.