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Feds firm to China on coronavirus review

The Morrison government is standing firm on calls for a global review into the origins of coronavirus despite China’s threats to boycott the nation’s major export industries.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has declared the country won’t give in to coercion.

Beijing has threatened to boycott Australian education, tourism and agriculture in retaliation to the Morrison government’s push for a global review into the origins of coronavirus.

“The government has made our displeasure with those remarks known,” Senator Birmingham told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday.

“COVID-19 has seen hundreds of thousands of people die around the world, millions of people lose their jobs, billions of people face massive disruption to their lives.

“The least the world can expect is a transparent inquiry into the causes of COVID-19 so that we can understand how best to prevent a repeat episode any time in the future.”

Senator Birmingham has also said a boycott from China would be inappropriate.

“We won’t be changing our public policy position, on such a serious public health matter, in the face of any threats of coercion from any other nation,” he told the ABC.

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.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has a message for China – Australian exports are top notch.

“Don’t deprive your people of the best in the world,” he told reporters in Queensland.

Originally published as Feds firm to China on coronavirus review

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