Farage calls for boycott of Chinese goods over ‘bullying’ tactics on coronavirus inquiry

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The Brexit Party leader weighed into the escalating row between the trade partners over Australia’s support for a global inquiry into the origins of coronavirus. He said China’s decision to retaliate against the Australians showed they are determined to act as a “bullying master of countries which have become too dependent on them”.

Australia, which has escaped a large scale coronavirus outbreak, has been one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

The Chinese have pushed back against their position, accusing them of using the issue to make a political “manoeuvre”.

Mr Farage tweeted: “Chinese reprisals against reasonable Australian demands for an inquiry show that they intend to be a bullying master of countries that have become too dependent on them.

“Time to stop buying all Chinese goods.”

His call comes after a World Health Assembly (WHA) draft resolution calling for a coronavirus inquiry has won the backing of more than 120 countries.

It is co-sponsored by Australia and the EU.

The resolution does not specifically mention China, Australia’s largest trading partner.

The two countries traded barbs on Tuesday over the disagreement, as the 100th coronavirus death was recorded Down Under.

In an unusually blunt statement on the same day that China imposed hefty tariffs on Australian barley exports, China’s embassy in Canberra said it was “nothing but a joke” for Australia to claim the resolution was vindication of its push for a global review.

A spokesman for the embassy said: “The draft resolution on COVID-19 to be adopted by the World Health Assembly is totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent international review.”

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Asked about the comments, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News that his country would not be drawn into using “cheap” tactics.

Mr Birmingham said: “Australia is not going to engage in cheap politicking over an issue as important as COVID-19”.

He added: “I would have thought the appropriate response from China’s ambassador in Australia would have been to welcome these outcomes and welcome the opportunity for all of us to work together on this important issue.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday told the WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation, that China would support a comprehensive review of the disease.

But he stressed that such a review would not be possible until after the pandemic is brought under control.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s spearheading of the call for an inquiry, alongside the EU, has been a lightning rod for a more assertive approach by Chinese embassies to criticism of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

That policy has been dubbed “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy in both Western and Chinese media.

The Chinese ambassador had earlier warned of a consumer boycott of Australian goods.

This led to Australian accusations of “economic coercion”.

The subsequent barley tariffs and the suspension of the export licences of several of Australia’s largest beef processors were viewed by many as retaliatory.

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