China Hits Back At Australia Over Virus Probe
Australia has pushed for an independent inquiry, which will be led by the World Health Organisation, into the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan. This probe has now been backed by more than 120 nations worldwide- including the U.S. and China. The Chinese President Xi Jinping mocked this ‘victory’ for Australia and commented that it was a “joke”. This probe by Australia has been detrimental for their relationship with China as they are their main trading partner. In the early stages before President Xi supported an inquiry, this probe appeared to anger China, who hit back with an 80 per cent anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariff on Australian barley. Additionally, halts were also swiftly put on importing beef from four Australian abattoirs.
President Xi stressed that the inquiry should wait until the peak of the pandemic is over, which was also backed by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said “the most urgent priority was to defeat the outbreak.” “Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis," he said. "Now is not that time. Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.”
President Donald Trump was very clear with his support for Australia and tweeted that “we are with them!” when referring to the support other countries had given Australia on this news. The American president seeks to blame China for covering up the seriousness of the virus as more than 93,000 people have now died, and almost 1.6 million have been infected. President Trump also does not support the World Health Organisation (WHO) and threatened to cut their $450 million worth of funding to the organisation, as he believes that they also did not take appropriate steps to prevent the global spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Australia seeks to rectify their relationship with China as fears export restrictions will extend to other sectors. The wool and dairy industry are particularly exposed as they are heavily reliant on China as a trading partner. Australia’s Agricultural Minister, David Littleproud, denied that there was a trade war with China and is approaching the issue with a diplomatic view. Fortunately, Australia’s four biggest exports to China are not expected to be affected on a short-term basis due to the size and resilience of the Chinese markets. These include $63 billion worth of iron ore, $16 billion of natural gas, $14 billion of coal and $12 billion spent in the education sector by international students.
By Caroline Wong
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