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China warns Australia of retaliation after 'unacceptable' act

Beijing says demanding Chinese residents to take Covid tests prior to travelling abroad is a political move.

China has warned Australia and other countries recent measures imposed on Chinese travellers are "unacceptable" and they should be prepared to face retaliation over the move.

Australia is one of a host of countries that has demanded all incoming Chinese residents provide a negative Covid-19 test ahead of China's border opening on January 8.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the decision, which went against Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly's advice, was made out of an abundance of caution.

But Beijing has scolded the decision, accusing countries of being politically motivated when making the call.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping in separate close up images.
China has hit out after Australia's vaccine requirement for Chinese tourists entering the country from next week. Source: Getty

"Some of these measures are disproportionate and simply unacceptable," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Tuesday.

"We firmly reject using Covid measures for political purposes and will take corresponding measures in response to varying situations based on the principle of reciprocity."

Chinese state media had earlier accused those countries implementing the measure of hypocrisy after already allowing the virus to run rampant in their respective nations.

China's Covid cases have surged since it walked away from its much-maligned zero-Covid strategy and there are fears Beijing is severely underreporting the impact of the wave of infection, particularly the country's death toll.

Many of the countries that have imposed the testing restriction, including the US, UK and France, have cited a lack of data from Chinese health authorities to justify the decision.

Sino-Australian relations have been on the mend since Labor won last year's election, however the decision will not have gone down well with Beijing who were furious over former prime minister Scott Morrison's calls in 2020 for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus.

China rejects vaccine offer

Ms Mao told reporters on Tuesday China has the current wave "under control" and said it would not be taking up the European Union's offer of Western-developed mRNA vaccines.

"China has established the world’s largest production lines of Covid vaccines with an annual production capacity of over 7 billion doses and an annual output of over 5.5 billion doses, which meet the needs of ensuring that all people eligible for vaccination have access to vaccines," she said.

However experts have repeatedly cast doubts over Chinese vaccines which they say are less effective against the Omicron variant. Professor Catherine Bennett, Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University, told Yahoo News Australia in November there was also a level of secrecy surrounding Chinese-made vaccines and whether improvements had been made.

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