China Suspends Meat Imports From Four Of Australia's Biggest Abattoirs As Tensions Escalate
Tensions are escalating after China suspended meat imports from four of Australia's biggest abattoirs.
China had threatened to boycott Australian businesses if the latter county's calls continued for an enquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, and the subsequent handling of the outbreak.
Three abattoirs in Queensland (Pastoral Company, Beef City and Dinmore) and one in New South Wales (Co-operative Meat Company [NCMC]) were told they were banned from exporting their meat to China because of technical labelling and certification issues, which go back a year.
The decision was given without warning and came into effect immediately.
The meat processing facilities are now working with the Australian government to see if they can reenter the Chinese market.
It comes after China also threatened to whack an 80 percent tariff on barley imports from Australia.
But the federal government doesn't believe these two measures are related to Australia pushing for an investigation into the pandemic.
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Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told Channel 7's Sunrise: "Chinese officials say both privately and publicly that these are unrelated matters and that issues related to Barely and beef have been running for 12-18 months.
"These decisions concern us, and that's why we're working around the clock as a government to respond in a calm and methodical manner to Chinese authorities and to put the best possible case forward for or farmers and businesses."
According to 9News, 18 percent of Australia's beef produce is exported to China every year and many in the industry are worried this ban could be a sign of things to come.
National Farmers' Federation president Fiona Simson said in a statement: "We recognise in relationships as significant as that between Australia and China, from time to time, issues do arise.
"When they do, it is important that both parties work together in a respectful manner to, as soon as possible, resolve the challenge to an end that is satisfactory to both."
Tensions started to bubble when China Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that Chinese people will reconsider buying Aussie products if officials keep negatively slating China for the pandemic.
"The issue of the origin and transmission of the virus needs to be assessed scientifically by medical professionals," Mr Zhao said.
"Political manoeuvres under the context of the pandemic will only disrupt international anti-virus cooperation and won't gain any support."
Featured Image Credit: PA