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Australia accuses China of ‘bastard act’ ban on beef exports as coronavirus investigation pushes

China’s ban on imports of Australian beef has been described by a federal MP as a “bastard.”

China suspended imports from four major beef suppliers just weeks after Beijing’s ambassador warned consumers to boycott Australia if it continued to push for an investigation into the origins of the corona virus outbreak.

The ban affects one-third of Australian meat exports worth $ 1 billion a year to China, Australia’s largest trading partner and the world’s second largest economy.

“It’s an asshole,” Liberal Nationalist backseat George Christensen said news.com.au.

“It’s just wrong. China has just entered full, bullying, threatening, coercive mode. ‘

China has suspended imports from four major beef suppliers, affecting a third of Australia's meat exports to China. Pictured is Melbourne butcher George Vourvahakis working hard at his Yarraville store on Tuesday

China has suspended imports from four major beef suppliers, affecting a third of Australia’s meat exports to China. Pictured is Melbourne butcher George Vourvahakis working hard at his Yarraville store on Tuesday

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing that the ban was due to quarantine violations.

“Chinese customs officials have consistently found that multiple batches of beef products exported to China by individual Australian companies have violated inspection and quarantine requirements,” he told reporters Tuesday evening.

Zhao warned Australia against “using the epidemic to tackle political manipulation.”

But he denied any connection between the beef ban and a possible investigation into how the corona virus started.

“It’s two different things,” Zhao insisted.

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the beef ban is the result of quarantine violations and is not related to Australia's calls for an investigation into coronavirus

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the beef ban is the result of quarantine violations and is not related to Australia's calls for an investigation into coronavirus

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the beef ban is the result of quarantine violations and is not related to Australia’s calls for an investigation into coronavirus

Three of the affected meat suppliers are from Queensland, while the other is from New South Wales.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Christensen called on Australia to resist the threats from China.

“Now that more than 36 percent of our exports are sold to China, which is 7.9 percent of our GDP, it is clear that we have put too many eggs in one basket,” he told Parliament.

“Because we have become so caught up in an authoritarian regime, our nation is open to economic blackmail and boycotts such as the Chinese Ambassador and actions against our barley and beef exports.”

“It is time to speak out about China’s economic infiltration and blackmail against our country.

“Enough is enough, we must take a stand for our national sovereignty.”

A liberal backbencher described the ban as an asshole. Depicted is Australian hull for sale at a butcher shop in Melbourne on Tuesday

A liberal backbencher described the ban as an asshole. Depicted is Australian hull for sale at a butcher shop in Melbourne on Tuesday

A liberal backbencher described the ban as an asshole. Depicted is Australian hull for sale at a butcher shop in Melbourne on Tuesday

Mr Christensen also urged Australia to use the Chinese port of Darwin as a bargaining chip.

It follows liberal MP Andrew Hastie, who recently called on Australia to take back control of the port, calling the lease “strategically naive.”

The beef ban comes a day after the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has threatened an 80 percent import tariff on barley imports, as Australia refuses to withdraw its demand for an independent investigation into the origins of the corona virus outbreak.

The proposal would be a major blow to the drought-stricken industry, which once exported more than $ 1.5 billion to China.

Australia was the largest supplier of barley in China in 2017, before exports were halved when Beijing opened its ongoing anti-dumping investigation into the industry.

Barley exports to China plummeted from $ 1.5 billion in 2018 to just $ 600 million the following year.

Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye hinted at a boycott last month if Australia would pursue a global conronavirus investigation.

“It is up to the people to decide. Ordinary people may say, “Why should we drink Australian wine? Eating Australian beef? he told the Australian Financial Review.

The beef ban comes a day after China threatened to impose an 80 percent export tax on Australian barley. Depicted are barley crops on a farm in Parkes in the central west of NSW

The beef ban comes a day after China threatened to impose an 80 percent export tax on Australian barley. Depicted are barley crops on a farm in Parkes in the central west of NSW

The beef ban comes a day after China threatened to impose an 80 percent export tax on Australian barley. Depicted are barley crops on a farm in Parkes in the central west of NSW

Statement by Trade Minister Simon Birmingham on the beef ban

Yesterday, we were informed late yesterday that four Australian meat establishments were suspended by the Chinese authorities due to issues related to labeling and health certificate requirements.

We are concerned that the suspensions seem to be based on very technical issues, some of which are over a year old.

We spoke to market leaders, colleagues and departments overnight to formulate a comprehensive answer.

We will work with industry and authorities in both Australia and China to find a solution that will allow these companies to resume normal operations as soon as possible.

Scott Morrison Denies Chinese Plans For New Tariffs On Australian Grain Are Revenge For His Coronavirus Research – After Barnaby Joyce Said They Were ‘Payback’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not believe that Chinese plans for Australian grain tariffs are linked to his pursuit of a coronavirus investigation.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has threatened an import rate of 80 percent on barley after an 18-month anti-dumping investigation.

The plan is said to cause serious damage to Australian barley farmers who send half of their products to China in a $ 150 billion trade.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured today) doesn't believe Chinese plans for Australian grain tariffs are linked to his pursuit of coronavirus research

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured today) doesn't believe Chinese plans for Australian grain tariffs are linked to his pursuit of coronavirus research

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured today) doesn’t believe Chinese plans for Australian grain tariffs are linked to his pursuit of coronavirus research

China has threatened to impose an Australian export tax of 80 percent. Depicted are barley crops on a farm in Parkes in the central west of NSW

China has threatened to impose an Australian export tax of 80 percent. Depicted are barley crops on a farm in Parkes in the central west of NSW

China has threatened to impose an Australian export tax of 80 percent. Depicted are barley crops on a farm in Parkes in the central west of NSW

The proposal comes just two weeks after the Chinese ambassador to Canberra threatened economic sanctions in response to the Morrison government’s call to investigate the origins of the corona virus.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said to the Seven Network on Monday, “This is a refund case.”

But Mr. Morrison said China had not linked barley rates to a COVID-19 study or anything else.

He said it would be “utterly disappointing” if the tariffs are used in retaliation.

“From their perspective, it is an anti-dumping problem. They certainly haven’t raised it about other issues. I would be hugely disappointed if it were, ”he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Australia was once China's largest barley supplier before Beijing launched an anti-dumping investigation. Depicted is a worker sweeping barley in the Riordan Group grain warehouse near Geelong in Victoria

Australia was once China's largest barley supplier before Beijing launched an anti-dumping investigation. Depicted is a worker sweeping barley in the Riordan Group grain warehouse near Geelong in Victoria

Australia was once China’s largest barley supplier before Beijing launched an anti-dumping investigation. Depicted is a worker sweeping barley in the Riordan Group grain warehouse near Geelong in Victoria

“There’s no reason for me to think that I could draw that conclusion based on the way they approach it.”

Dumping is when a country exports a product unfairly cheaply to penetrate a foreign market, with producers often subsidized by the government.

China will complete its anti-dumping investigation into Australian barley before May 19, when producers and the federal government have 10 days to respond.

“We are very clearly disputing that we are not subsidizing and we have not dumped barley in China,” Secretary of Agriculture David Littleproud told ABC Radio.

“We expect to demonstrate this to Chinese officials and have been trying to do so for about 18 months and will continue to work with them.”

Australia is ready to take China to the World Trade Organization to fight tariffs.

“That’s what the referee is for and that’s what we would test if we were concerned that our position was not well accepted or understood,” said Mr. Littleproud.

Grain Producers Australia described the proposed rates as “an absolutely huge gut kick.” Depicted is a barley farmer in the central west of NSW

Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the government should get the matter under control.

“We are now getting a taste of what it’s like to mismanage our relationship with our largest trading partner. This barley number goes back 18 months, it predates COVID-19, “said Mr Fitzgibbon.

“This is what happens when you have a populist policy, make big statements, hit your chest without thinking about potential economic consequences for Australia, and also for our farmers.”

The federal government’s calls for a ban on wet markets and an investigation into the origin of the virus – as well as repeated suggestions that China was hiding its spread – have infuriated Beijing.

Last month, Chinese Embassy Interior Minister Peter Dutton called “pathetic”, “ignorant” and an American “parrot” after asking China to “answer questions” about how the coronavirus started.

On April 26, Chinese Ambassador to Australia Jingye Cheng warned that Chinese consumers may stop buying Australian products as revenge.

The dispute comes after a scorching year in which relations between Australia and China saw clashes over political interference, human rights abuses in Western China and Huawei 5G equipment.

Former Australian ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, told Daily Mail Australia that diplomatic relations have been “at their lowest point since they started 46 years ago.”

THE ECONOMIC THREAT OF AMBASSADOR FOR AUSTRALIA

In an interview with the Australian Financial ReviewAmbassador Cheng slammed Australia’s pressure on a global investigation as “political” and warned that Chinese consumers could boycott the country.

In response to a question as to whether China could boycott Australian iron ore or gas, Mr. Cheng instead focused on China’s contribution to Australia’s agricultural, tourism and education sector.

Mr. Cheng said: “I think if the mood goes from bad to worse, people would think why we should go to such a country when it is not so friendly to China.

“The tourists may have doubts. Perhaps the students’ parents would also think if this place, which they don’t find so friendly and even hostile, is the best place to send their children.

“So it’s up to the audience, the people to decide. And maybe the common people also think why they should drink Australian wine or eat Australian beef. ‘

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