Australia is calling for an independent review of the COVID-19 outbreak, and China is not thrilled about it. China has warned Australia that it will face economic consequences if it doesn’t back off from its call for an investigation into its handling of the coronavirus. This would be a bitter pill for Australia to swallow since China is the largest market for Australian wine and beef.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the threats will not deter her nation’s push for transparency and termed the threats “economic coercion.” Payne stated, "Australia has made a principled call for an independent review of the COVID-19 outbreak, an unprecedented global crisis with severe health, economic and social impacts. 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.” Hear, hear!
The Chinese Ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, said any probe could encourage Chinese citizens to boycott Australian products and Chinese tourists to avoid travel to the country. (I’m not sure the latter is a big threat right now, speaking of the coronavirus!) In an interview published in the Australian Financial Review, Ambassador Jingye said, “Maybe the ordinary people will say ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?’”
Or maybe the ordinary people in China will say, “We’d really like to get our hands on some bandicoots, emus and wombats, but those darn Aussies don’t trust our beloved communist government.”
Or…maybe the ‘ordinary people’ in China will say, “Nice country you got there, Australians. Shame if somethin’ happened to it.”