An Australian MP said China’s ban on Australian beef exports is punishment for the Australian prime minister’s proposed international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.
“It’s a bastard act,’’ Liberal-Nationals MP George Christensen said. “It’s just wrong. China has just gone into full, bullying, threatening, coercion mode. That’s what I think.”
Australia is set to submit a proposal this month to the World Health Organization asking that an international investigation be launched into the origins of the coronavirus, which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The inquiry, supported by the U.S. and Britain, could send international inspectors to Wuhan. China has vehemently rejected the proposal, saying it is an attempt by the Trump administration to blame China for the pandemic and shift attention away from its own mistakes.
China, Australia’s largest trading partner, suspended beef imports from the country this week and last month threatened the country with severe tariffs up to 75 per cent on barley if Australia continues to pursue the investigation.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Tuesday that the decision to impose the Australian beef ban was in response to violations of inspection and quarantine requirements, and was unrelated to other “political” concerns.
“Chinese customs has continuously found that multiple batches of beef products exported to China by individual Australian companies have violated the inspection and quarantine requirements,’’ Lijian said before warning that Australia could face consequences if it moves forward with its request for an investigation.
Asked whether he was suggesting the beef ban was linked to Australia’s request for a coronavirus probe, the foreign ministry spokesman punted.
“I just made it very clear,” he responded. “They are two different things, you’re making a political interpretation.”
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