What would you do if you posted something sensitive on social media and, in the process, upset one of your best friends? You would probably try to call them and explain what you did and why, and say you wished you had called them first so they were at least expecting it. And then ask for forgiveness?
But what if they were so upset that they didn’t take your call and, despite several voice mail messages, and appeals to your mutual friends to help, they wouldn’t return your call? What would you do next?
This is the dilemma facing the Australian Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham, as he tries to reset the Australia-China trade relationship and explain away some of the recent decisions made by other senior ministers to make public demands for an international enquiry into the source of Covid19, and China’s role in it. It seems that nobody in China is returning his calls. Is that really surprising?
So what do you do? Some would say “time is a great healer” and he should wait in the hope of being forgiven over time. Perhaps new events will overtake past aberrations (news from the US suggests that any errors by Australia will soon be trumped by the US President himself!) and he may be forgiven, or at least forgotten! That wouldn’t be a bad result.
Others say “actions speak louder than words” and his counterparts in China will be waiting to see how Australia responds to future developments and to see whether they really are sorry for their past actions.
But you don’t get many more chances. What happens next will be important.