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Global Times

China rejects Aussie 'economic coercion' claim

Global Times

By Xu Keyue and Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/28 18:45:49

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed claims that China is using "economic coercion" against Australia after Australia called for an independent review into the origins and spread of COVID-19, which the Chinese Ambassador said could trigger Chinese public dissatisfaction.

The ambassador is talking about the concerns that some wrong remarks from the Australian side have caused dissatisfaction among the Chinese people, which could have a possible impact on bilateral relations. Where does the so-called 'economic coercion' come from?" Geng Shuang, the spokesperson of the ministry, said at the Tuesday press conference.

The response came after Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that Australia rejects economic coercion threats from China, referring to Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye's remarks that the Chinese public could avoid Australian products and universities in response to Australia's push for an investigation into the coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye said in an interview on Monday that "the tourists may have second thoughts. Maybe the parents of the students would also think whether this place, which they find is not so friendly, even hostile, is the best place to send their kids to."

"Maybe the ordinary people will think why they should drink Australian wine or eat Australian beef," Cheng said.

As the pandemic undermined the global economy, China is willing to strengthen cooperation with other countries to overcome difficulties, and contribute to the health and well-being of mankind, Geng said, adding that China hopes other countries will avoid being two-faced.

Chen Hong, a professor, and director of Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the so-called economic coercion was more like a joke when it is Australia, not China, which has been provoking decoupling from China economically and diversifying its exports in recent years, but now it's criticizing China for resorting to economic coercion.

What the Chinese ambassador said reflected the ordinary Chinese people's feelings toward Australia as it has spearheaded the anti-China campaign for quite a long time, Chen said.

"Even my students asked me whether it's safe to travel to Australia at this moment when Chinese and Asian people were increasingly targeted by racism and anti-China sentiment in the country," Chen said.

Also, Geng criticized Australian media as failing to understand China and the Chinese public comprehensively and thoroughly, in response to an Australian reporter who said he had not heard of Chinese people's dissatisfaction with his country.

"Did you not hear any of it? Do you want to listen to it? Please check China's Internet to see what Chinese people say about China-Australia relations," Geng said.

As the reporter questioned the truth of comments on Chinese social media, Geng replied by asking, "Why do you think Chinese people's comments on the Internet are untrue? Then who wrote those remarks? Robots? If you didn't hear it in the real world, it means you haven't reached far enough into Chinese society."

It's normal for Chinese people to have these concerns and dissatisfactions, and even when they chose to boycott Australian products and tourism, it's just typical consumers' behaviors instead of economic coercion, Chen said.

"Australian beef and wine, tourism and studying are all replaceable, and Chinese consumers can independently turn to other alternatives," Chen said.

Australia's anti-China campaign will continue to worsen the bilateral relations after the coronavirus pandemic, which will eventually affect the economic ties of the two countries. And ultimately, the Australian people and its economy, which relies heavily on exports, will suffer, Chen said.

According to Reuters, Australia last week called for all members of the World Health Organization to support an independent review into the origins and spread of the coronavirus, and is lobbying world leaders to this end.

On Monday, Ambassador Cheng Jingye took a phone call from Frances Adamson, Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in Australia said that during the phone call, Secretary Adamson tried her best to defend Australia's proposal for the independent review, saying it had no political motive nor was it targeting China. The spokesperson highlighted the content of their conversation, saying Adamson "also admitted that now is not the time to commence the review and Australia has no details of the proposal."

According to the spokesperson, Cheng clearly explained China's position, stressing that no matter what excuses the Australian side makes, the fact cannot be buried that the proposal for an independent review is a political maneuver. "Just as a Western saying goes: Cry up wine and sell vinegar."

Cheng rejected the concerns expressed from the Australian side over his remarks in a recent interview with the Australian Financial Review, and called on Australia to put aside ideological bias, stop political games and do more to promote bilateral relations.

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