China targets Australian goods after call for coronavirus probe

China has imposed tough restrictions on the import of Australian beef and barley in suspected retaliation for Canberra’s joining international calls for a probe into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak.

The restrictions on Australian beef and barley may also mean that China plans to buy more products from the US, as called for in the phase one trade agreement between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, The South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.

The Chinese Communist Party confirmed over recent days that it would likely impose a crippling tariff of more than 80 percent on Australia’s barley exports.

Beijing also suspended beef exports from four major meat processing plants in Queensland and New South Wales, according to the website.

The moves raised suspicions in Australia that China was punishing Australia for its political positions, as it has done to other nations in the past.

China’s moves come after Australia last month called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

China has rejected the need for an independent inquiry, and Beijing’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, in late April said Chinese consumers could shun Australian goods in response to Canberra’s support for such an investigation.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that the moves had nothing to do with the coronavirus controversy, but instead resulted from Australia’s failure to follow rules governing the industries.

China’s customs agency “continuously” found examples of the Australian companies violating inspection and quarantine requirements and suspended the imports to “ensure the safety and health of Chinese consumers.”

With Wires

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