PM calls on China to respect 'our rules' as world heads towards 'dangerous place'

Scott Morrison has declared China must respect Australia's values as the COVID-19 pandemic places incredible strain on diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Australia's calls for a global inquiry into the origins of coronavirus have infuriated the Chinese government, which has suspended beef imports from four abattoirs and threatened to slap huge tariffs on Australian barley.

During a press conference on Friday, the prime minister said his push for an independent inquiry was "completely unremarkable" and Australia would stand its ground.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at a press conference on Friday. Source: AAP
Scott Morrison has declared China must respect Australia's values. Source: AAP

"We draw very clear lines about things that are very important to us, as does the Chinese government," he said.

"We respect their lines, as we expect our lines to be respected, whether it's on our foreign investment rules, or our rules around technology, our rules regarding human rights and things of that nature.

"I don't think any Australian would want us to compromise on those important things, and those things are not to be traded, ever."

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said the escalation in Australia-China tensions in recent weeks was "not ideal", with travel bans already impacting the tourism and education sectors.

However the coronavirus pandemic has strained tensions between Australia’s and its major trading partner.

World reacts to tensions

China’s knee-jerk reaction to Australia’s request for an inquest has drawn global attention, with some claiming the country’s role in the pandemic has “disturbed the whole world.”

“Its attempts to economically coerce Australia into its geopolitical orbit should disturb the world even more,” Henry Olsen, a columnist for The Washington Post, wrote on Friday.

“The message is clear: If a country takes Chinese money, it must toe China’s line.”

Chinese and Australian flags fly at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: AAP
China’s knee-jerk reaction to Australia’s request for an inquest has drawn attention across the world. Source: AAP

“This means the United States and its allies have a hard decision to make. The more China’s economy grows, the more economic power its government can wield. It’s clear that Beijing is increasingly emboldened to use that power to force obedience to its dictates. Those dictates are not, and will not, be friendly to Western freedoms and democracy,” he wrote.

Amid concern from domestic experts that Australia is vulnerable because of its “addiction” to China, there are growing calls to diversify our exports away from the Asian nation.

‘Cut off the whole relationship’

China’s relationship with Australia’s closest political ally also appears to be rapidly deteriorating after Donald Trump threatened to cut ties with China over its role in the spread of the coronavirus.

In an interview aired Thursday in the US, Mr Trump again accused Beijing of concealing the true scale of the problem after the virus emerged in Wuhan late last year.

"I'm very disappointed in China. I will tell you that right now," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference. Source: Getty
Donald Trump threatened to cut ties with China over its role in the spread of the coronavirus. Source: Getty

Asked how the United States might choose to retaliate against what he has dubbed the "Plague from China", Trump said: "We could cut off the whole relationship".

The Chinese government was quick to retort through its Global Times newspaper which largely acts as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.

“Cutting off” the relationship “may put world peace in a dangerous position,” it wrote.

China's foreign minister says the country has brought the coronavirus outbreak under control. The minister lashed out at foreign politicians he accused of having "insisted on politicising the epidemic, labelling the virus, and smearing the World Health Organisation".

Wang Yi's comments carried by the official Xinhua News Agency appeared directed at the United States.

with AFP and AAP

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