China lashes out at Australia over coronavirus inquiry
The Chinese Embassy in Canberra has dismissed claims that Australia is responsible for getting China to agree to a coronavirus inquiry.
On Monday night more than 100 countries signed a motion at the World Health Assembly for an independent investigation into the spread of the disease.
Liberal-National Senator Matt Canavan said it meant Australia was ‘massively vindicated’ after being the first country to call for the probe in April.
The Chinese Embassy in Canberra has dismissed claims that Australia is responsible for getting China to agree to a coronavirus inquiry
But Chinese officials said the motion, which China has agreed to, is very different from Australia’s original proposal.
Prime Minster Scott Morrison wanted to give health officials the power to enter countries without invitation to inspect a disease outbreak, much like weapons inspectors.
But China has only agreed to a probe once the pandemic is over.
A statement from the Chines Embassy read: ‘A close look at the draft itself can easily come to such a conclusion.
‘All those who know the consultation process that led to the resolution understand this.
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‘To claim the WHA’s resolution a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke.’
Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country acted with openness, transparency and responsibility all along.
‘This work needs a scientific and professional attitude and needs to be led by the WHO. And the principles of objectivity and fairness need to be upheld,’ Xi told the world health assembly meeting.
Xi also said China would stump up $3.1 billion over the next two years to help deal with the disease.
It comes as Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Australian farmers will try to replace Chinese barley buyers after Beijing imposed an 80 per cent tariff.
Mr Littleproud said the federal government is urgently searching for more buyers in Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia and other countries.
But half of Australia’s barley exports normally go to China and farmers fear a ‘devastating’ hit this year if they are forced to offer discounts to sell all their produce elsewhere.
Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi jinping in January
‘We will not take our foot off the accelerator in finding other markets,’ Mr Littleproud said.
‘We have opened up greater access into India. We now have a free trade agreement that starts on 5 July with Indonesia and also within the Middle East – Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are also interested.’
Mr Littleproud denied Australia and China are in a trade war and pointed to rising Chinese demand for Australian iron ore as supply from Brazil is reduced due to coronavirus.
‘No, there’s no trade war. In fact, even today, I think you have seen that there’s increased demand for iron ore out of China,’ he said.
China imposed an 80 per cent tariff on Australia barley last night after an 18-month anti-dumping investigation.
Dumping is when a country exports a product unfairly cheaply to permeate a foreign market, with producers often subsidised by the government.
China announced a 80.5% levy on barley exports starting May 19. Pictured is a barley farmer in central west NSW
China has accused the Australian government of subsidising farmers through the farmhousehold allowance and the Murray-Darling basin digitally honeypot project.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham today said the allegations were’ ridiculous’ because most of Australia’s barley is produced far away from the basin.
He said: ‘It’s completely ridiculous to be listing things like the Murray-Darling Basin infrastructure upgrades as some sort of subsidy to barley exporters when the bulk of that barley comes out of Western Australia or South Australia and is firmly dry-land farming.
‘The Murray-Darling Basin is nowhere near Geraldton or other parts of the barley-growing world and I think it demonstrates the absence of factual analysis in the decision that’s been made by China.’
He did not rule out the idea that Beijing imposed the tariff as revenge for the government’s call for an inquiry into the origins and spread of coronavirus.
Dumping is when a country exports a product unfairly cheaply to permeate a foreign market, with producers often subsidised by the government (stock image)