Australia is openly challenging China as the former rightfully is seeking an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus which has irked the dragon. China has now resorted to warning about the impending economic consequences if Australia pushes for an independent inquiry into the virus’ origins but the Kangaroos are in no mood to spare the dragon as they are fiercely hitting back against China’s tirades.
Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had sought for an international investigation related to the ongoing pandemic while speaking to Donald Trump, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, prompting heavy backlash from China. Australia is also one of the few countries seeking to improve the WHO’s “transparency”. Australia is aggressively lobbying with world leaders to push for an inquiry into the pandemic which has infected over 3 million people, has cost lakhs of lives and plummeted the world economy into a state of recession — a stand echoed by the Australian parliament.
“These days, certain Australian politicians are keen to parrot what those Americans have asserted and simply follow them in staging political attacks on China,” said a statement released by the Chinese embassy in the backdrop of growing calls in Australia for China’s role to be investigated.
Morrison’s stand rattled China as its ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye resorted to threatening the country. In a newspaper interview, Cheng claimed that the “Chinese public” might avoid Australian products and desist from pursuing education in Australian universities. “Maybe the ordinary people will say ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef? The parents of the students would also think … whether this is the best place to send their kids.” He further added that Chinese tourists may have “second thoughts” about travelling to Australia.
Cheng tried to press on Australia’s jugular vein as China is the country’s largest trading partner with the dragon accounting for more than one-third of the country’s total exports. Additionally, China also sends over a million tourists and students each year to Australia. China must have expected that Australia would scale down its calls for an international investigation after Cheng’s comments but to China’s surprise, Australia refused to be bog downed by China’s empty threats.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne hit back at China’s attempts to coerce China as she said, “We reject any suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response to a call for such an assessment, when what we need is global cooperation.”
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham also hit out at China as he said, “Australia is no more going to change our policy position on a major public health issue because of economic coercion or threats of coercion than we would change our policy position in matters of national security”. He further added that the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Frances Adamson had called on Cheng for his “disappointing remarks.”
The minister also said, “But our government is very clear that we’ve seen enormous loss of life around the world of hundreds of thousands of people, huge economic disruption to billions of lives across the planet, and of course that warrants transparent investigation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Navy is also stepping up the heat on the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the South China Sea. As Beijing started pushing for its “historical maritime rights” aggressively during the COVID-19 outbreak, other stakeholders, including the United States have ganged up against Beijing.
Notwithstanding its deep economic ties with Beijing, an Australian frigate too joined hands with three United States warships in the strategic waterways near an area where a Chinese survey ship is suspected to be exploring for oil.
Australia is also the first country to exclude telecoms equipment maker Huawei from its 5G network for its close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party as it is widely believed that Huawei is just another tool of the CCP to spy on the countries across the globe.
China’s attempts to scare Australia are clearly not working as Australia continues to push for an independent investigation. The world knows that China has a lot of skeletons in its cupboard which will start falling apart if an investigation is ordered.