Australia rejects the Chinese possibility of economic coercion in the planned coronavirus test
Australia rejects the Chinese possibility of economic coercion in the planned coronavirus test, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has warned China against attempts at “cultural bullying” as Australia is calling for an inquiry into China’s coronavirus pandemic.
In a newspaper interview on Monday, Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye said the “Chinese public” could avoid Australian products and universities.
Last week Australia called on all World Health Organization (WHO) representatives to endorse an independent study of the origins and spread of coronavirus, and is pressuring world leaders.
“Maybe ordinary people would ask ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?’ Cheng said in an interview published on The Australian Financial Review’s front page.
Cheng said the tourists may have “second thoughts” about visiting Australia.
“The student’s parents will also wonder … if this is the best place to send their children,” he added.
Education and tourism are the biggest export industries in Australia after energy exports, with China the largest market.
In a statement on Monday, Payne said Australia had made a “principled call” for an independent review of the COVID-19 outbreak which began in Wuhan, China.
“We condemn any suggestion that economic exploitation is a suitable answer to a call for such an evaluation, when global cooperation is what we need,” Payne said.
Payne said a “honest assessment” of the pandemic should aim to clarify the position of the WHO.
During a regular briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang dismissed calls for an inquiry, though he did not comment directly on Australia.
“China is the first country to register a case of COVID, but this does not mean that the virus originated in China,” he told reporters.
“Some people are trying to hype up the so-called investigation that is incompatible with an international environment of collaboration and their political maneuvering does not succeed.” The novel coronavirus infected 2,97 million people worldwide and killed more than 205,000.
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