Australia’s trade minister has declared the country won’t give in to coercion after China threatened to withdraw support from the nation’s major export industries.
Beijing has threatened to boycott Australian education, tourism and agriculture in retaliation against the Morrison government’s push for a global review into the origins of coronavirus.
Simon Birmingham said the boycott would be inappropriate.
“Australia’s position is very clear that we believe it is entirely reasonable … for there to be a genuine inquiry and investigation into the cause of the loss of life of hundreds of thousands of people around the world,” he told the ABC.
“We won’t be changing our public policy position, on the face of such a serious public health matter, in the face of any threats of coercion from any other nation.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese is backing the government’s calls for a review into the origins of the virus.
“This is so it never happens again,” he told ABC radio.
Mr Albanese says Australia’s relationship with China is important and must be nurtured.
“It’s important that an element of that relationship be transparency. Australia wants a positive relationship with China but it’s got to be built on a level of trust and transparency.”
Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye said Australia’s support for the inquiry could result in Chinese tourists having “second thoughts” about visiting.
“Maybe the ordinary people will say ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?” he told The Australian Financial Review.
Originally published as China threat inappropriate: trade minister