Australian officials have lashed out at China’s tough trade policies against the nation, warning that the economic punishment measures risked undermining global confidence in Beijing.
In a strong statement to the World Trade Organization, Australian Ambassador George Mina said China is increasingly testing global trade rules.
It comes after China imposed export bans on a range of Australian products such as barley, coal, lobster, wine and cotton, amid an ongoing economic dispute.
“The implications of China’s actions go beyond their impact on Australian exporters, they increase the risk and uncertainty of the Chinese market for the global business community,” Mina said in the statement.
“By undermining agreed trade rules, China is also undermining the multilateral trading system to which all WTO members apply.
“China says these actions reflect legitimate concerns, but there is a growing body of information that shows China’s actions are politically motivated.”
The comments to the WTO were made as part of a regular review of China’s policies, 20 years after the country joined the organization.
Mina said the past 18 months have seen China implement “disruptive” trade measures against Australia.
He urged the WTO to align its own trade policies with accepted international rules.
“As part of the large-scale trade measures taken against Australia, there are credible reports that Chinese authorities have asked importers not to purchase certain Australian products, contrary to WTO rules,” the statement said. .
“Several official Chinese statements have directly linked these trade actions to broader issues in our bilateral relations.
“WTO rules do not allow a member – even a large one – to impose conditions like these on trade with another member.”
The WTO statement also quoted a Chinese foreign ministry official who said China would not allow any country “to reap the benefits of doing business with China while baselessly accusing and slandering China.”
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent years, with Australian ministers unable to communicate with their Chinese counterparts.
Associated Australian Press