(SMH) — Foreign Minister Marise Payne has slapped down a threat from Beijing that Australia’s call for a global independent review into the coronavirus pandemic would result in a Chinese consumer boycott of students and tourists and a downturn in exports.
In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, the Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye labelled Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s push for an inquiry as “dangerous” and predicted it would fail to gain support among global leaders.
Mr Cheng also refused to confirm that the virus had started in a Wuhan wet market, in a sign Beijing is ramping up its propaganda campaign into the origin of the virus.
He warned the Morrison government that its pursuit of a global review into the COVID-19 pandemic could spark a Chinese consumer boycott of students and tourists visiting Australia, as well as sales of popular agricultural exports like wine and beef.
Senator Payne said the Australian government rejected “any suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response to a call for such an assessment, when what is needed is global co-operation”.
“Australia has made a principled call for an independent review of the COVID-19 outbreak, an unprecedented global crisis with severe health, economic and social impacts,” she said.
“This would be undertaken at an appropriate time, fully acknowledging that many countries are continuing to deal with the challenges of the virus.
“A transparent and honest assessment of events will be critical as we emerge from the pandemic and learn important lessons to improve our response in the future.