The Chinese authorities have been slapping sanctions on a growing list of Australian exports through 2020. But they have stopped short of targeting iron ore, a commodity that accounts for over half of Australian exports to China. The reason for this is simple: China’s supply-side-powered recovery runs on steel, and Australia is one of just a handful of exporters providing the iron ore needed to make it.

Will Canberra seek to use this leverage, and in doing risk escalating bilateral tensions into a full-fledged trade war?