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Australia’s allies have flocked to our defence after China’s surprise online attacks and shock trade announcements.
Overnight, an international campaign posted by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), Solidarity with Australia, picked up steam in a bid to “support Australia” and one of our worst-affected industries.
Australia has been singled out with a series of complicated and bitter trade disputes erupting in recent months.
In August, China launched an “anti-dumping investigation” into Australian wine exports, which accused Australia of flooding China with cheap wine at cost or below cost prices in an effort to skew the market in Australia’s favour.
This week wine producers were hit after Beijing imposed import taxes from 107 to 212 per cent on all Australian wine.
“Australian wine, we are the most popular wine in China,” James Robson, owner of Ross Hill Wines in Orange, NSW, explained on the ABC’s 7.30 program last night.
“We sell more wine than the French.”
However, the latest move has seen the Federal Government facing questions about what it’s doing to support the industry.
“There’s a lot of Chinese wines that are cheap and pretty decent wines at the low end of the market,” said BBC Asia Pacific editor Michael Bristow said previously.
“This row has great potential to cause a lot of damage to the Australian wine industry. It could have a major impact.”
The Wall Street Journal weighed in overnight, claiming for years Australia had “quenched the thirst of the nouveau riche in China” but its latest anti-dumping tariffs “left it with a nasty hangover”.
CNN said Aussie winemakers are now “scrambling to find new buyers around the world … effectively cutting it off from its most important export market.”.
But it seems Australia has a few international friends at hand, including in the office of US President Trump.
Despite being mocked for its “cringey” tweet, a senior US government member’s post about the trade dispute over wine exports was an “unusual” step by Trump’s National Security Council, according to Senior Editor of Raw Story, Bob Brigham.
The NSC is part of the Executive Office of the US President, and is the principal forum for considerations of national security and foreign policy in the US government.
The Age’s digital foreign editor Chris Zappone backed this theory that “the vintner-in-chief is now playing in China’s trade war with Australia over wine”.
During Question Time on Tuesday, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was pressed on what the government was doing to support affected business.
Mr Littleproud gave vague hope, saying the government was “bitterly disappointed” by China’s decision and explained the government is appealing and looking for export options with other countries.
“The immediate support we will provide to the industry, is appealing that,” he explained.
“We have ten-days in which to do that. We are working with industry around that appeal.
“We will vigorously defend the industry, with respect to that.
“We are continuing to as we have, even before this imposition of what is a tariff on our wine, we’ve already been trying to open up other markets through the free trade agreements that we put in place and that’s particularly emerging markets in ASEAN countries, also the US and Canada,” he said.
Australian officials admitted in August they still haven’t spoken to their Chinese counterparts since last year, with Trade Minister Simon Birmingham saying Australia is “willing to sit down no matter how difficult the issue and discuss it in a grown up like way … because that’s what mature nations do.”
ALLIES JOIN IN
On Tuesday New Zealand confirmed it has registered its concern over the “unfactual” image directly with China, with PM Jacinda Ardern saying: “Of course we do observe closely what happens across the ditch as they do with us”.
France also joined in, criticising China and calling them “tedious” and “insulting” while in the UK’s House of Commons, conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith described it “appalling behaviour” and claimed Australia’s involvement with a global COVID inquiry set the wheels in motion to be “beaten up by the Chinese in a very aggressive manner”.
China refuses to apologise to the Australian government despite the Prime Minister’s plea, with China’s embassy continuing to issue brutal statements against Mr Morrison.
The rift even prompted former Chinese political prisoner Baosheng Guo to post in support of Australia, claiming he had never bought Australian wine before but will buy it now to “resist CCP’s persecution of Australia”.
Meanwhile, another 19 countries have joined forces to urge millions across the globe to buy an Australian-made bottle of wine.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China or IPAC, is “an international cross-party group of legislators working to reform the approach of democratic countries to China,” according to its website.
The group holds more than 200 MPs across a spectrum of political parties and countries, including Canada, Australia, the US, Germany, UK, Sweden and Japan.
“Our friends need our help,” US Republican politician Ted Yoho says in the video shared online.
Viewers are then asked to “join us in standing against Xi Jinping’s authoritarian bullying”, by Christian Democrat Member of the European parliament Miriam Lexmann.
One Australian MP, Labor’s Kimberley Kitching, features in the video explaining: “This isn’t just an attack on Australia. This is an attack on free countries every where”.
The Chinese embassy issued a blistering response to the “rage and roar” of Australian politicians, accusing Prime Minister Scott Morrison of “overreacting” to the tweet depicting an Australian soldier killing a child.
Just over 24 hours after the shocking fake image was posted on Twitter, the Chinese Embassy has responded to the PM’s demands for an apology.
“We would like to further stress the following: the rage and roar of some Australian politicians and media is nothing but misreading of and over-reaction to Mr Zhao’s tweet,” the statement said.
“The accusations made are simply to serve two purposes. One is to deflect public attention from the horrible atrocities by certain Australian soldiers. The other is to blame China for the worsening of bilateral ties. There may be another attempt to stoke domestic nationalism.”
On Monday night, China’s state-controlled media urged Mr Scott Morrison to “kneel down on the ground and slap himself in the face” over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
In an extraordinary attack, the Chinese state-controlled newspaper the Global Times called on the Prime Minister to “slap himself” during a nationally televised address.
“Morrison should kneel down on the ground, slap himself in the face, and kowtow to apologise to Afghans – all these should be done in a live telecast,” the editor wrote.