A spokesperson for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has accused Australia of playing the victim in response to the regime’s coercive trade strikes on Australian exports.
This comes as the spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, justified its trade embargoes but denied knowledge of an alleged ban on Australian coal.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told The Morning Show on Wednesday that the Chinese regime had not confirmed to the government about any official decision it has made.
He also pointed out that while Australia takes these issues very seriously, Australia’s biggest coal export markets are actually Japan and India. South Korea is another.
“If there were such a ban on coal, then that would be in direct contravention to the World Trade Organisation [WTO] rules. It would also be a complete breach of the free trade agreement,” Morrison said.
If the Chinese regime has, in fact, officially placed a ban on Australian coal then a global perception of China would “take hold very quickly” that it doesn’t treat WTO rules “with the right respect.”
He added: “The World Trade Organisation’s rules are very important for the trading system around the world, and so I don’t think that would be in China’s interest, it wouldn’t be or our interest.”
For this reason, Morrison reiterated Australia’s calls for a “mature” leader-level and ministerial-level dialogue with China.
No matter what though, “Australia will still be Australia. Our values will still be our values,” he said. “We will still continue to set our laws here about foreign investment and our critical infrastructure; we’ll have a free press; parliamentarians will be able to speak freely.”
He said they are positions Australia has always clearly taken, “including on human rights issues.”
Resources Minister Keith Pitt said Australia expected all its trading partners to play by the rules.
“We are doing our part,” Pitt told the ABC. “Australia has not moved in terms of the free trade agreements, and we continue to meet what we said we would do. But we expect all of our exporters to have a level playing field, be treated fairly and that is what we are looking for.”
The Chinese regime has slapped a series of trade bans and tariffs on Australian goods as part of its aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomacy, which targeted Australia after the government called for an inquiry into the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
Beijing has also expressed its displeasure with a number of other Australian policies targeting foreign interference, investment laws, and banning Huawei from the 5G network.
Craig Emerson, a former Labor trade minister during the Gillard prime ministership, told ABC on Wednesday that Morrison was correct China was breaking the rules of the free trade agreement.
He also said that when Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to power, he lauded the WTO as a global rules-based trading system and acknowledged its primacy—noting that U.S. President Donald Trump did not.
“Maybe it’s time for the Chinese leadership to … reaffirm its commitment to the system and agree if they don’t want to negotiate these trade barriers away with Australia, if they think that they are justly based, then let’s go almost hand-in-hand to the WTO,” Emerson said.