Chinese propaganda outlet The Global Times has declared “China has the power to hurt the Aussie economy” as it warned any attempt to “confuse malicious COVID-19 inquiries with trade would only exacerbate the tensions”.
“China has the power to hurt the Aussie economy but won’t fire the first shot in a trade war,” the publication wrote.
“If China wanted to start a trade war with Australia, it wouldn’t use a measure of this degree.
“In view of past experience, China won’t be the one to take the first provocative step, but it should be noted that any further attempt to confuse malicious COVID-19 inquiries with trade would only exacerbate the tensions, driving bilateral trade off track.”
The Global Times editorial also hit out at Australia for taking credit for the inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.
China claims the World Health Assembly resolution spearheaded by Australia was different to what Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously called for.
“China has already made it clear that it supports the comprehensive review of the COVID-19 response, which should be conducted in an objective and impartial manner,” the Global Times wrote.
“A resolution on identifying the zoonotic source of the coronavirus has been agreed by all the member states, including China, at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting on Tuesday. The resolution is entirely different from the “independent inquiry” previously backed by some Australian politicians.”
Perth USAsia Centre CEO Professor Gordan Flake has warned against reading too much into the editorial which “tend to be a harbinger of what the actual Chinese positions are but don’t line up entirely in that process”.
He told Sky News “it is tempting to kind of look at this in a bubble and think that somehow we are the only country right now being targeted by China whereas – a whole range of other counties are facing similar responses”.
“This is really more about changes internally in China than it is about us and yet our tendencies is to interpret it entirely in our own domestic context,” he said.