The Communist government of China is now threatening economic retaliation if Australia, a key U.S. ally in the Pacific, continues its investigation into China’s early handling of the coronavirus.
The Hill reports:
Chinese officials are threatening economic consequences if Australia moves ahead with an investigation into Beijing’s early handling of the coronavirus outbreak, Australian Sky News reported on Monday.
Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye said Beijing could encourage Chinese citizens to boycott Australian exports and products if Australia was to initiate the probe, the news outlet reported.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne called the Chinese threats “economic coercion” and repeated calls for an investigation into the early handling of the outbreak, which is thought to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
“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 reportedly said. “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.”
Authorities in the U.S. have repeatedly accused China of attempting to cover up the true severity and extent of the coronavirus when it first broke out in the city of Wuhan.