The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)

CHINA’S BIG PARTY

Life’s a beach in Wuhan as world pays virus price

- CLARE ARM­STRONG Australia News · Politics · Coronavirus (COVID-19) · Asian Politics · Infectious Diseases · Wine · Health Conditions · Alcoholic Drinks · Beijing · China · Australia · New South Wales · Simon Birmingham · Birmingham (England) · Hong Kong · England · New England · Barnaby Joyce · the Chinese government · Sydney · Bondi · United States of America · Alex Azar · Taiwan · Communist Party of China · Chinese Ministry of Commerce · the Australian government · Institute of Public Affairs

IT’S party time in China’s virus epi­cen­tre Wuhan with thou­sands flock­ing to a pool party as the Com­mu­nist regime con­tin­ued to ex­act re­venge on Aus­tralia over the pan­demic fall­out.

Bei­jing has hit Aussie wine­mak­ers with an anti-dump­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion threat­en­ing $1 bil­lion in wine ex­ports.

Bat­tered by drought, bush­fires and now COVID-19, NSW wine­mak­ers were yes­ter­day in shock after Bei­jing ac­cused them of flood­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket, a claim the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has vowed to fight.

And salt was rubbed in wounds for lo­cal busi­nesses strug­gling to sur­vive coro­n­avirus re­stric­tions when pic­tures emerged of thou­sands of Chi­nese peo­ple en­joy­ing a pool party in the city that gave the world the pan­demic.

CHINA has hit Aus­tralian wine­mak­ers with a “deeply trou­bling” anti-dump­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion threat­en­ing $1bn in wine ex­ports while the post-coro­n­avirus party rages on at ground zero in Wuhan.

Bat­tered by drought, bush­fires and now COVID-19, NSW wine­mak­ers were yes­ter­day in shock after Bei­jing ac­cused them of flood­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket, a claim the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has vowed to fight.

And salt was rubbed in wounds for lo­cal busi­nesses strug­gling to sur­vive coro­n­avirus re­stric­tions yes­ter­day when pic­tures emerged of thou­sands of Chi­nese peo­ple en­joy­ing a pool party and per­form­ers in the very city that gave the world the pan­demic.

China‘s Com­merce Min­istry an­nounced a one-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion to as­sess if Aus­tralian ex­porters are dump­ing bot­tled wine into the Chi­nese mar­ket, and may ex­plore claims of unfair gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies. It fol­lows Chi­nese tar­iffs on Aus­tralian bar­ley and bans on beef ship­ments from sev­eral pro­duc­ers.

Trade Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham said the ac­cu­sa­tions were “deeply trou­bling and quite per­plex­ing”.

“Aus­tralian wine is by no means sub­sidised, it is by no means sold at or be­low any­thing other than mar­ket rates in the world mar­ket,” he said.

“Our gov­ern­ment will stand with the Aus­tralian wine in­dus­try to up­hold their in­tegrity and hard-earned rep­u­ta­tion for pro­duc­ing wines in high de­mand through­out the world.”

About 37 per cent of all wine ex­ported from Aus­tralia ends up in China, gen­er­at­ing more than $1.07bn a year.

Richard Harkham of Harkham Wines ex­ports bou­tique wines to Hong Kong and said he hoped China did not im­pose tar­iffs on Aus­tralian prod­uct.

“It‘s very sad and all a very po­lit­i­cal tit-for-tat which I think is unfair. I hope this is just a threat. The wine in­dus­try has had a tough time,” Mr Harkham said.

“About 95 per cent of my grapes were dam­aged this year be­cause of the smoke haze from the fires. We’ve had no tourism be­cause of the bush­fires and then coro­n­avirus hap­pened.”

Mr Harkham said he had no plans to ex­port to the main­land Chi­nese mar­ket in

the fu­ture due to the volatile busi­ness land­scape.

Hunter Val­ley wine­maker Bruce Tyrrell, of Tyrrell’s Wines, said China‘s in­ves­ti­ga­tion would not only hurt Aus­tralians but also Chi­nese busi­nesses who owned winer­ies in the re­gion.

“China is our big­gest mar­ket. There are a grow­ing num­ber of winer­ies and vine­yards that are Chi­nese-owned … so they would be hurt­ing their own peo­ple,” he said.

Mr Tyrrell said it was pos­si­ble the at­tack on the wine in­dus­try was re­tal­i­a­tion for the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment seek­ing an in­quiry into China‘s han­dling of COVID-19.

“This is the way China does busi­ness; they did it to the bar­ley guys for no rea­son. We will be ex­actly the same,” he said.

New Eng­land Na­tion­als MP Barn­aby Joyce said it was hyp­o­crit­i­cal of Bei­jing to point the fin­ger at Aus­tralia as a source of its eco­nomic hard­ship when the world was suf­fer­ing due to the pan­demic.

“China’s econ­omy and the world’s econ­omy would be in a lot bet­ter place if the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment had been … hon­est in their in­for­ma­tion and re­sponse in the first in­stance of the out­break,” he said.

Mr Joyce said the wine dump­ing claim was a “rub­bish”

ex­cuse for what was clearly a po­lit­i­cal move.

“There’s no point play­ing this sort of child­ish game, it’s bet­ter to come out and say we’re an­gry be­cause you’re not treat­ing us with re­spect.”

As Aus­tralia is forced to deal with the lat­est eco­nomic threat from China, rev­ellers in Wuhan are act­ing as if the pan­demic is long over with thou­sands pack­ing into a pool party. The im­ages of peo­ple squeezed to­gether are in stark con­trast to Syd­ney’s pools which sit vir­tu­ally empty amid the COVID re­stric­tions.

In the city the Boy Charl­ton Pool is closed, while at Bondi Ice­bergs a 24 per­son limit has been im­posed.

In­sti­tute of Pub­lic Af­fairs ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John Roskam said the fact life ap­peared to be “re­turn­ing to nor­mal” in Wuhan showed how dis­as­trous Aus­tralia’s po­si­tion was by com­par­i­son.

“Aus­tralia made the right de­ci­sion” to pur­sue the in­quiry into the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus,” he said.

China’s han­dling of the out­break orig­i­nat­ing in Wuhan has been con­tin­u­ally crit­i­cised by high level of­fi­cials in the US.

Last week US Health Sec­re­tary Alex Azar used a con­tro­ver­sial visit to Tai­wan to is­sue a scathing as­sess­ment of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s re­sponse in Wuhan.

“For a month-and-a-half they de­layed al­low­ing out­side ex­perts in to learn more about the na­ture of the dis­ease,” he said. “(China) should have dis­closed the asymp­to­matic car­riage and trans­mis­sion of the dis­ease (sooner).”

In April China’s am­bas­sador to Aus­tralia Cheng Jingye warned the gov­ern­ment its pur­suit of a coro­n­avirus in­quiry could set off a boy­cott by Chi­nese con­sumers, who may not buy ma­jor ex­ports in­clud­ing beef and wine.

China then slapped an 80 per cent tar­iff on Aus­tralian bar­ley ex­ports after ac­cus­ing grow­ers of dump­ing into the mar­ket. Aus­tralia strongly de­nies the claim.

 ?? Pic­ture: AFP ?? Rev­ellers cool off at a pool party in Wuhan in China's cen­tral Hubei prov­ince.
Pic­ture: AFP Rev­ellers cool off at a pool party in Wuhan in China's cen­tral Hubei prov­ince.
 ?? Pic­ture: Tim Hunter ?? Wine­maker Richard Harkham, who fears for his ex­ports to Hong Kong be­cause of China’s an­tidump­ing trade threats to Aus­tralia.
Pic­ture: Tim Hunter Wine­maker Richard Harkham, who fears for his ex­ports to Hong Kong be­cause of China’s an­tidump­ing trade threats to Aus­tralia.
 ?? Pic­tures: AFP, Richard Dob­son ?? Some of the thou­sands of res­i­dents who crowded into a pool com­plex in Wuhan, the Chi­nese city at the epi­cen­tre of the COVID-19 pan­demic, to cool off and watch a water per­for­mance at the week­end. Mean­while, Syd­ney pools hit by the pan­demic are vir­tu­ally empty.
Pic­tures: AFP, Richard Dob­son Some of the thou­sands of res­i­dents who crowded into a pool com­plex in Wuhan, the Chi­nese city at the epi­cen­tre of the COVID-19 pan­demic, to cool off and watch a water per­for­mance at the week­end. Mean­while, Syd­ney pools hit by the pan­demic are vir­tu­ally empty.

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