China says coal handling delayed by environmental checks
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — China said Friday that reported delays in handling of coal shipments from Australia were due to stepped up inspections to protect the environment.
“In recent years, China Customs has found that some of the imported coal didn’t meet our environmental protection standards when it carried out inspection and testing on safety and quality risks of the imported coal,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a routine briefing in Beijing.
Customs officials had strengthened quality and safety inspections of imported coal “in accordance with relevant laws and regulations” to better protect Chinese importers and ensure environmental safety, Geng said.
He said a report by the Reuters news agency saying that ports in the northern Chinese city of Dalian had banned imports of Australian coal was “not true.”
The report had linked the holdups in coal processing to tensions over Australia’s blocking of telecoms gear giant Huawei Technologies from the roll-out of its 5G networks.
Australia’s trade minister downplayed the delays, saying Friday he had no reason to believe China is banning Australian coal.