China is increasingly using its populated market as leverage to extract political concessions and increase its strategic influence.
Previously, China had halted or reduced imports of beef, coal, barley, seafood, sugar and timber from Australia after supporting calls for an investigation into the origin of the pandemic coronavirus, which started in China in December.
China’s ruling Communist Party is trying to deflect criticism from its handling of the epidemic, which plunged the world economy into its deepest recession since the 1930s, by arguing that the virus came from abroad, despite little supporting evidence.
Meanwhile, Australia is working on a mutual defense treaty with Japan, which Chinese leaders see as a strategic rival, and has joined the governments of Washington and Southeast Asia in expressing concern over China’s construction of military facilities on islands in the South China Sea disputed trade route.
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry called on Australia to “do something auspicious” to improve relations but gave no details.
“Some people in Australia who adhere to the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices have repeatedly taken the wrong words and deeds on matters concerning the fundamental interests of China,” spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Australia should “take China’s concerns seriously, instead of harming China’s national interests under the banner of safeguarding its own national interests,” Zhao said.
Australia’s main stock index fell 0.5% on Friday after the news broke.
“To a certain extent, it’s Australia’s fault for allowing itself to become a one-trick pony when it comes to exporting to China,” Oanda market analyst Jeffrey Halley said in a commentary. report.
The Chinese market is particularly important at a time when China is recovering from the coronavirus as the United States, Europe and other major economies grapple with disease controls that are depressing demand.
The Commerce Department said tariffs on wine responded to complaints that Chinese producers had been harmed by low-priced Australian imports.
The Australian government has denied subsidizing wine exports.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the build-up of Chinese sanctions suggested they were due to “other factors” but gave no details.
“The Australian government categorically rejects any claim that our wine producers are dumping products in China,” Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said.
Australia has imposed restrictions designed to block foreign influence in its politics following complaints that Beijing may be trying to manipulate its government.
Australia has also joined the United States in placing restrictions on the use of technology from Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei Technologies Ltd for security reasons.