China Threatens To Boycott Australian Businesses For Questioning How Coronavirus Started
Australian government officials have been vocal in their support of a global, independent inquiry into how the coronavirus started and China's handling of the outbreak.
Politicians are simply curious as to what the original source of the pandemic was and whether steps could have been taken to limit its spread.
But it seems like that enquiry has resulted in a very serious threat from China.
China's ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, has warned that economic boycotts could be introduced if Australia pushes any further with questions about the coronavirus.
Mr Jingye told the Australian Financial Review that a probe might cause Chinese people on the mainland to have 'second thoughts' about whether they should invest in Australian universities, tourism and agriculture.
He added: "Maybe the ordinary people will say 'Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?'
"The parents of the students would also think...whether this is the best place to send their kids."
China accounts for a quarter of all Australian exports and is worth $153 billion to the Aussie economy.
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The threat has not been taken kindly in Canberra.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne rejects 'any suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response to a call for such an assessment, when what is needed is global co-operation'.
She added: "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.
"This would be undertaken at an appropriate time, fully acknowledging that many countries are continuing to deal with the challenges of the virus.
"A transparent and honest assessment of events will be critical as we emerge from the pandemic and learn important lessons to improve our response in the future.
"We hope all members of the WHO would co-operate in such an effort, including to strengthen the WHO's role in responding effectively to a pandemic."
The World Health Organization has welcomed the idea of an independent inquiry into the coronavirus' origins and the steps that were taken as it was spreading through China and the world.
Senior WHO official Dr Margaret Harris told the Sydney Morning Herald: "In terms of reviews, this is a cataclysmic moment and it is moment which we all need to review how we do it, what we do, how we protect ourselves in public health terms and societal terms.
"So, of course, there is a need for a lot of thinking, a lot of discussion, a lot of ideas about what went wrong, what went right, what we need to change, how we can be better, but also what we've done well and how we apply that and make sure we continue to apply that."
Featured Image Credit: PA