China has threatened Australia that its pursuit of an independent inquiry into the origin of coronavirus pandemic may trigger a Chinese backlash.
Chinese Ambassawarned that the Australian government's inquiry could spark a Chinese consumer boycott of students and tourists visiting the country, and hit popular agricultural exports like beef and wine. The Chinese Ambassador to Australia also refused to accept the virus originated from Wuhan.
Cheng Jingye termed PM Scott Morrison's push for an inquiry "dangerous"
In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, ambassador Cheng termed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's push for an inquiry "dangerous" and said that it would not gain and said that "suspicion, recrimination or division at such a critical time could only undermine global efforts to fight against this pandemic."
Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had pushed for an independent probe into the origin of coronavirus and China's role amid accusations by several countries that Bejing kept the world in dark about the seriousness of the disease due to which precious weeks to respond to the crisis were lost.
"The Chinese public is frustrated, dismayed and disappointed with what Australia is doing now... if the mood is going from bad to worse, people would think 'Why should we go to such a country that is not so friendly to China? The tourists may have second thoughts.
"The parents of the students would also think about whether this place which they found is not so friendly, even hostile, whether this is the best place to send their kids here. It is up to the people to decide. Maybe the ordinary people will say 'Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?'" the AFR quoted him as saying.
Australia hits back at China
Australia, however, hit back at China for its 'economic coercion' to force Australia to drop its idea of an independent international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Reacting strongly to the Chinese Ambassador's threat, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne criticised China for linking "economic backlash" to Canberra's global lobbying campaign for the inquiry into the pandemic.
"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... We reject any suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response to a call for such an assessment when what we need is global co-operation," she said.