China Denies Trade Strikes Are a Targeted Attack on Australia

By Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.
November 6, 2020Updated: November 6, 2020

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials have denied that the trade blockages, export delays, and tariffs the regime has imposed on Australian export products are a targeted attack, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. This is despite Beijing imposing several disruptions to the exports of Australian beef, wine, barley, lobster, timber, iron ore, and cotton.

The news comes after the state-run CCP mouthpiece, Global Times, reported that from Nov. 6 Beijing will place a sweeping ban on imports of Australian wine, cotton, wool, barley, lobster, sugar, timber, and copper.

The ABC has also reported that Chinese importers told Australian wine groups that they had received directives from the Chinese regime’s Ministry of Commerce to stop importing Australian wine in an “off-the-record” meeting where authorities had banned mobile phones.

Speaking to reporters on Nov. 5, Morrison said that China had insisted that Australia was not being targeted.

“China has denied that is what they are doing and I can only take that at face value out of respect for the comprehensive strategic partnership we have with China,” Morrison said.

But Morrison noted that both he and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham had concerns and were working with industry to seek clarity and get some resolution through the proper channels.

Birmingham told ABC Radio on Nov. 4 that he hoped China was telling the truth and not exerting pressure on Chinese businesses to stop the purchase of Australian products.

He warned that if that were true it would be highly concerning given the commitments China has made in the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and to the World Trade Organization.

But if China does act against its arrangements with Australia, it would not be the first time. Earlier this year, China effectively went against its legal agreement to honour Hong Kong’s autonomy from the totalitarian regime in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

“There’s no doubt that Australia’s goods are highly valued by Chinese consumers as being of high quality, as being very safe and very reliable,” Birmingham said. “And so, that is why we continue to see, even through this year, an increase in exports for many of our products that have been hitting China’s shelves, including wine, including beef.”

Exporters Holding Back Shipments

Exporters are responding to the economic uncertainty in the Chinese market by holding off shipments or stopping exports to the country entirely.

Australian Grape and Wine chief executive Tony Battaglene told the ABC that some wine exporters were holding off from shipping more wine to China because Chinese importers are nervous.

Likewise, lobster exporters have held back shipments preferring to keep their premium product in Australia rather than risk financial losses.

Federal trade minister Birmingham said that sadly the risk of doing business with China had clearly changed and has worsened.

“What we have seen this year, sadly, is that because of a number of these administrative and other decisions that China has taken, the risk profile for Australian business in doing business and trading with China has clearly changed and has worsened,” Birmingham said.

Currently, the federal government is urging exporters to pursue opportunities in alternate international markets with the trade minister reminding Australian businesses of the country’s other trade pacts with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

He also noted that there would soon be opportunities with the European Union, the UK, and India.

” I would expect that many businesses would be looking at those other opportunities that our government has created through our other trade deals and looking as to how they can explore further business linkages with those countries as well,” Birmingham said.

It has been noted that China’s trade disruptions came soon after the Australian government led the charge for an inquiry into the origins and handling of the early outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which emerged from Wuhan. The CCP virus is commonly known as novel coronavirus.