Australian leaders irked by China's threat to Island Nation's economy

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 08 May 2020

Melbourne: Australia and China exchanged barbs in recent times after the Island nation demanded an investigation into the origins of coronavirus as well as a review of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

China’s threats of a consumer boycott against Australia over calling for an independent investigation have now irked many Australian leaders.

Martin Parkinson, who last year retired as head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, said Chinese diplomat Cheng Jingye's ultimatum should come as a 'wakeup' call for the Australian community.

"He has now put front and centre before the Australian public the sorts of coercive behaviours that they are prepared to use if countries don't fall into line," he told ABC.

"That should come as a real wake-up call to the Australian community," he said.

Chinese diplomat Cheng Jingye recently told The Australian Financial Review: "Firstly, I don't think this will make any substantial progress. Secondly, as I said earlier, the Chinese public is frustrated, dismayed and disappointed with what you are doing now. In the long term, for example, I think if the mood is going from bad to worse, people would think why we should go to such a country while it's not so friendly to China."

"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. So it's up to the public, the people to decide. And also, maybe the ordinary people will think why they should drink Australian wine or eat Australian beef," he said.

Australian President Scott Morrison had earlier said he would push for an investigation by international investigators in China to find out how the outbreak occurred at the annual meeting next month of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). Australia is a member of the executive board of the assembly. 

In such a context, Australia's High Commissioner-designate to India Barry O'Farrell told StratNews Global on Chinese stand: "We have a very beneficial relationship but it is not acceptable to threaten our economic collusion over a call for an independent and transparent review of a body that is designed to maintain the world's health."

He recalled Indian PM Narendra Modi's  call on the need to strengthen WHO at the G20 leader's summit in March and said: "Australia has argued for an independent review in appropriate time to look into the genesis and spread of the disease."

"Clearly, not everybody likes the idea but we need to strengthen our global institutions to seek transparency," he said.

The virus, which has now spread across the globe, is believed to have originated from China.

Australia recently called for an independent investigation into the origins of the highly infectious disease that has now spread across the globe.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne had told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that China’s actions in the matter should be thoroughly investigated.

"It will need parties, countries to come to the table with a willingness to be transparent and to engage in that process and to ensure that we have a review mechanism in which the international community can have faith," Payne told ABC.

China rejected the Australian government's claims.

"Is speaking Chinese a fashion today?" China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a press briefing.

"Currently, with the pandemic still spreading across the world, the most pressing task is to put people's life and health first and work together to defeat the virus," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang was quoted as saying by ABC earlier.

"At such a critical juncture, it is highly irresponsible to resort to politically motivated suspicion and accusation," he said.

"We advise the Australian side to put aside ideological bias and political games, focus on the welfare of the Australian people and global public health security, follow the international community's collective will for cooperation, and contribute to the global cooperation in fighting the virus, instead of doing things to the contrary," he said.

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