Prime Minister Scott Morrison reached back into history this week when trying to explain the economic impact of China's tariffs against Australian exporters.
He drew a parallel between 2020 and 1973, when Australian farmers lost markets in Britain as it entered the European Economic Community.
The government might think it a convenient example, one that implies China's tariffs and other measures against Australian products are the beginning of a long, painful but necessary adaptation to new strategic realities for Australia's economy.
It suggests a hope that, as it did in the 1970s, a more independent Australia would adapt and find prosperity trading with other nations.
Whether such an analogy will play out is by no means certain. Ask economists, or look at the latest economic figures, and replacing trade with China sounds less inevitable than the historical parallel implies.
The government has made much of its recent overtures to India and other Indo-Pacific nations, eager to show it is redoubling efforts to diversify Australia's trading relationships and reduce the nation's exposure to attempted coercion by China. India is often held up as Australia's best prospect for diversified trade.
Experts on the Chinese economy say despite those high hopes, there is no other nation that will offer Australia the same level of trading opportunities and trade-related wealth as China.
The Australia-China trade relationship is displaying incredible resilience.James Laurenceson
It is a question partly of size and projected growth. China is one of the very few economies expected to grow this year in recent figures from the International Monetary Fund, despite a predicted global downturn of minus 4.4 per cent.
In June, the IMF projected China's economy would grow 1 per cent and India's would contract by 4.5 per cent. Four months later, it predicted stronger Chinese growth at 1.9 per cent and downgraded its forecast for India, saying its GDP would fall 10.3 per cent.
The divergence will only amplify the massive pre-existing difference in China and India's contribution to global economic output, according to Chinese economy expert and Australian National University professor Jane Golley.
Even if the nations had grown at similar rates in 2020 - as the IMF predicted in April - China would have provided seven times more global economic output than India, she says.
Professor Golley says China is expected to remain one of the world's fastest growing economies for the next five years. The nation's economic growth is projected to slow as it develops, but remain at 5.5 per cent in 2025.
"Adding that relatively fast growth to the size of its economy, and the numbers are pretty obvious," Professor Golley says.
Other nations touted as potential sources of growing trade will not match China for size in the next decade. India, for one, does not have the same level of purchasing power for Australian products. Professor Golley says it is possible there will never be another national economy with the same level of trading opportunities for Australia as China.
An iron grip?
In the background, as China has targeted Australia with economic pressure in 2020, is a trading relationship that has continued despite the tensions and the COVID-19 downturn.
Australian exports to China grew 9.3 per cent last fiscal year, and the superpower retained a nearly 30 per cent share of Australia's trade in goods and services. Australia's second-largest trading partner, the United States, had 9.3 per cent.
Chinese economy expert and University of Technology Sydney professor James Laurenceson says despite the tensions and headlines, the share of Australia's total exports going to China hit a record high of 40.5 per cent in the first 10 months of 2020. Exports of Australian goods to China this year fell much less than those to other countries.
"The Australia-China trade relationship is displaying incredible resilience," he says.
That relationship is vastly lopsided: China is by far Australia's largest trading partner, but Australia is China's 13th largest destination for exports and 6th largest source of imports.
The asymmetry is not the sole defining feature of Australia-China relations. Trade between the nations has grown on what's called "complementarity" - put simply, the two economies have qualities that allow them to work productively together. Combined with China's sheer purchasing power, it helps explain the vast expansion of the trading relationship.
It is also a bedrock that remains unchanged despite COVID-19 and political tensions between the nations, says Professor Laurenceson.
"While we're all appalled by some of China's diplomatic behaviour, the economic complementarities between the two countries, China's purchasing power, none of that has changed."
National security experts have previously argued it is in China's interests for Australians to overestimate their vulnerability to its attempts at economic coercion.
In cold hard economic logic, the reason we have so much trade with China now is because that's where the market is.Darren Lim
By that logic, there is value for Australia's security in putting the latest tariffs in context. It is also important to look at the Australia-China trading relationship in its parts.
As predicted by national security experts, China has targeted sectors it doesn't rely on for its own growth. The products it has blocked can be found elsewhere.
Professor Golley says in leaving coal ships stuck offshore, China is also sending a message that it can live without the Australian export.
It shut off Australia's wine last week with tariffs of 107.1 per cent to 212.1 per cent, and has left Australian lobsters stranded at airports. The broadside against the wine industry is valued at $1.2 billion a year.
"At that sectoral level, there are some serious hits being taken," Professor Laurenceson says.
He says despite the level of trade between China and Australia, there are viable alternative opportunities for some specific Australian goods, such as barley and beef.
On face value, one avenue of support seemed to open this week when a global alliance of parliamentarians called on their countries to stand against China's bullying and support Australian winemakers.
MPs from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China called on their citizens to drink Australian wine instead of alcohol produced in their own nations.
It echoed an emerging view that allied countries could lower their exposure to China's attempts at economic coercion by trading tariff-hit products with one another instead.
Professor Golley is sceptical of the IPAC campaign, saying the idea behind it is good in theory but does not appear practical.
"The French aren't going to buy our wine. It's going to be very hard for the Americans. They might do it once or twice to be nice, but they have their own wine industry that presumably offers much lower cost and wide variety. Japan is a much smaller market," she says.
It is also hard to imagine the mechanics of a scheme to grow Australian wine consumption in those countries. Australia's allies are also its competitors in global markets such as wine and lobsters. A $1.2 billion loss for Australian winemakers could be a gain for those in New Zealand and other nations.
Among the products China has left untouched with tariffs and other barriers is Australia's iron ore, which reached $63 billion or about 47 per cent of Australian exports to the nation in 2018-19.
Professor Golley says China's largest source of dependency on Australia is iron ore, and to a lesser extent coal.
However China is looking for other sources of supply. One possible alternative major source of iron ore - in Guinea, west Africa - hit headlines this week as of interest to China. The deposit is nicknamed the "Pilbara killer" but was reported to be five to 10 years away from production. By then, China's steel production is projected to have peaked.
Alternative sources of iron ore, and upgrades to China's economic structure reducing its reliance on the mineral, could change its trading relationship with Australia.
"Australia still has far and away most of the world's iron ore, and it's not like China's not going to need any," Professor Golley says.
"But we do become less important to them as a resource supplier over time."
No quick fixes
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham this week said the federal government had no intention of turning away from China's market, acknowledging it was the region's largest economy and remained an important economic partner.
In another inteview, he said it would take patience, calm and consistency in resolving the situation. One of those qualities - patience - might be the essential component in unpicking the economic and national security dilemma presented by China's tariffs.
Australian National University international political economy and security researcher Darren Lim says there is no magical fix as Australia's exporters look for alternative markets - at least in the time period relevant to them.
"Of course, in the decades to come, Indonesia and much of the rest of the region will be viable markets but in cold hard economic logic, the reason we have so much trade with China now is because that's where the market is," he says.
"If there were alternative markets where we could get the same prices and same quantities, our exporters would be exporting there."
At some point, it appears producers hit with China's tariffs may have to sell at lower prices or volumes elsewhere, even if alternative markets are found at the margins.
Dr Lim says he supports efforts to diversify, but that they would take time.
"It's a long-term process that will involve economic pain," he says.
Mr Morrison's historical example - the painful shift from trade with Britain - might be instructive only because in hindsight, it shows there are critical junctures for Australian trade.
Australia might be at another.