China won’t respond to pleas to ease tension after call for coronavirus probe: Australia

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Australia said on Monday China remains unresponsive to its weeks-long pleas to ease tensions between the two trading partners that escalated after Canberra called for an international enquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Australia has insisted the call for an independent investigation into the pandemic, which it says most likely originated in a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, was not politically targeted at Beijing.

China accused Australia of playing “petty tricks” and the Chinese ambassador to Australia warned Chinese consumers could boycott Australian products if Australia pursued the inquiry.

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China has also since suspended beef imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors and imposed hefty tariffs on imports of barley, although both sides say those moves are unrelated to the spat over the pandemic.

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Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, who has been requesting discussions with his Chinese counterpart for weeks, said Beijing has been ignoring Canberra’s pleas.

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