China threatens Australia with boycott over demands for COVID-19 investigation

China's ambassador to Australia has issued "thinly veiled threats" against Australia following the country's calls for an investigation into how COVID-19 transformed from a localised epidemic in a central Chinese region into a pandemic that has killed more than a quarter of a million people, forced billions into isolation and crippled the global economy.

Ambassador Cheng Jingye warned that Australia's actions could lead to a consumer boycott of Australian products, and an end to the number of Chinese tourists.

Cheng also threatened the flow of Chinese students to Australian universities, a key source of revenue that is already under threat from pandemic travel restrictions.

The Chinese public is frustrated, dismayed and disappointed with what Australia is doing now. If the mood is going from bad to worse, people would think 'why should we go to such a country that is not so friendly to China?' The tourists may have second thoughts. It is up to the people to decide. Maybe the ordinary people will say 'Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?'

Cheng Jingye, speaking to the Australian Financial Review.

"The parents of the students would also think whether this place which they found is not so friendly, even hostile, whether this is the best place to send their kids here," Cheng said.

The Ambassador's words show how the Chinese Communist Party is now flexing its economic muscles in order to intimidate governments that question or criticise its behaviour.

“I saw some comments from the Chinese foreign ministry talking about coercive activity with respect to Australia, who had the temerity to ask for an investigation. Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

China condemns Australian military cooperation with United States.

In a separate development, China has heavily criticised Australia for taking part in joint navigation exercises with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea.

Us Australian Navy

China's Defence spokesman Colonel Wu Qian said "Reality has proven once again that the US is the biggest facilitator of the militarisation of the South China Sea, and is a troublemaker for the region's peace and stability," adding ominously that "The People's Liberation Army will remain on high alert, and adamantly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests."

(File image courtesy of US Navy: Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat takes on fuel at sea from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan)

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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