Australia gets silent treatment from China on urgent trade talk request

The restrictions on Australian beef and barley may also mean that China plans to buy more products from the U.S., as called for in the phase one trade agreement between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, The South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.

The suspension of the beef shipments came as ties between Australia and China publicly soured, although Birmingham said he did not believe it was retribution by China over the call for an inquiry into the orgins of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

"Many more farmers rely upon them in terms of selling cattle into those facilities", Birmingham told reporters in Canberra.

China has suspended imports of beef from four Australian producers following a threat by Beijing of possible trade retaliation if Australia pushed for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chinese regime has rejected calls by Australia and other governments for an global inquiry into the origin of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which emerged in December in central China.

The AWU, which was founded in the 1880s and has over 100,000 members, says Australia must stand firm against the Chinese government. "We have made it very clear that I am available and keen to have a discussion".

The traditionally left-wing Australian Workers' Union (AWU) has put partisan politics to one side and joined calls for China's efforts at global supremecy to be defeated.

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Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in an earlier statement that the halt was related to labeling and health certification requirements. Beijing has labeled calls for the investigation "politically motivated", warning of a potential consumer boycott of Australian products. Elders Ltd., which helps sell and buy livestock across Australia, China, Indonesia and Vietnam, dropped as much as 6.9%, the most since March 23.

While China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on the country's customs agency had found repeated instances of quarantine violations by the barred Australian beef companies and imports were suspended to "ensure the safety and health of Chinese consumers".

Australia's National Farmers' Federation President Fiona Simson said the industry was concerned about disruptions to trade with China, which took a third of Australia's farm exports, including 18 percent of beef production.

Beijing criticized Australia for banning all flights from mainland China at the start of February in response to the growing coronavirus threat.

USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who has been heavily criticised by Beijing for his attacks on China, has praised Australia for calling for an inquiry and urged "every country" to demand answers.

New Zealand and Britain have offered support.

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