China’s foreign ministry has rebuffed Simon Birmingham’s call for clarity on potential new trade actions against a range of Australian sectors, which reportedly could take effect as soon as today.
It comes after the state-run Global Times appeared to confirm that China had “halted seven categories of Australian goods from the market” but did not provide any further details.At a regular press conference late yesterday, the foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, was asked about the reported measures targeting sectors such as copper, sugar, wine, barley and timber.
Wang provided the following general response, which is similar to the line from earlier in the week:”The Chinese competent authorities’ measures on foreign imports are in line with Chinese laws and regulations and international customary practices. They protect the safety of consumers and the legitimate rights and interests of domestic industries, and are consistent with the free trade agreement between China and Australia.”
Bloomberg’s reporter asked a second time whether, in light of the recent actions that China has taken, it has set certain conditions for the open access to the Chinese market. Wang said there was “simply no reason to doubt China’s commitment on opening-up and cooperation which has already delivered tangible benefits”.
The AFP news agency then asked whether Wang could give any details or confirmation of the specific measures that have been taken against Australian products in light of Birmingham’s call for greater clarity on the reported restrictive actions.
Wang said: “I already responded to this matter.”In a strongly worded statement yesterday, Birmingham said the inconsistent messages from China about what was happening with Australian exports were “heightening risks” and also undermined “the statements made by President Xi” about opening up at this week’s import expo in Shanghai.
Here’s our story from last night: