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‘An immoral bully’: Neil Mitchell slams China as trade tensions rise over COVID-19 dispute

China appears to be following through with threats made towards Australia if the government continued its support for a push for an independent probe into the origins of COVID-19.

After the Chinese ambassador to Australia flagged potential economic repercussions for Australia last month, this week China has moved to impose an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley and banned imports from four Australian abattoirs.

Chinese government run newspaper, The Global Times, yesterday wrote a piece which said Chinese-Australian relations are at their lowest point in decades and confirmed there will be economic repercussions for Australia’s support for an investigation in the pandemic.

Neil Mitchell slammed the Chinese government for “acting like an immoral bully”.

“It says directly that this is happening because Australia wants an independent inquiry into how this virus stopped the world and killed people. What is wrong with that? Mankind needs that answer to stop it happening again,” the 3AW Mornings host said.

“Australia has stood up for decency and the reaction is threats and retaliation!

“Has China got something to hide?

“I don’t know, but the world needs to know.

“This is not a friend, it never will be, not as long as this is a decent nation.”

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Chinese interference expert and Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, Clive Hamilton, said the Chinese government’s approach is one the country uses often.

“Beijing is notorious for this kind of economic coercion,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“The way Beijing does this is it keeps its threats kind of vague and deniable, and that way it can frighten a wider range of actors, so there are lots of business people in Australia now thinking ‘Oh gee, we could be next. Let’s put pressure on the government to back off’.”

Professor Hamilton said Australian trade is at “serious risk” but we shouldn’t bow to China’s wishes.

“We really do need to stand up, even if it means that we suffer some short-term economic pain,” he said.

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