China accuses Australia of ‘abuse’, says world trade rules designed to protect western interests

China accuses Australia of ‘abuse’, says world trade rules designed to protect western interests
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Beijing has accused Australia of “abusing state power” by restricting Chinese investment, claiming western countries used world trade rules to maintain their dominance.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday lashed tariffs imposed by Beijing on a range of Australian products as “completely unconscionable”, just a day after urging the international community to bolster trade rules in a bid to kerb economic coercion.

En route to the G7 in the UK, Mr Morrison said Australia was eager to reopen dialogue with China, but was “not prepared to concede” on a list of 14 grievances published by Beijing, or “trade away” its values.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin insisted the sanctions protected the rights of Chinese producers and consumers, claiming Beijing opposed the “politicisation” of trade and “all kinds of bullying and political manipulation”.

But he framed world trade rules as a closed shop, designed by western powers to maintain control and neuter the growth of emerging countries.

“Who has politicised trade and economic issues, stretched the concept of national security, and abused state power to suppress and contain foreign companies? The Australian side has a clear idea,” he told reporters on Thursday.

The comments were an apparent reference to new powers, introduced last year, allowing the federal government to veto foreign investment on national security grounds.

The power was first used in April to scrap the controversial Belt and Road Initiative signed between China and Victoria, a move that angered China.

Camera IconScott Morrison is open to recommencing dialogue with China but says Australian values are non-negotiable. Sharon Smith / NCA NewsWire Credit: NCA NewsWire

Japan has pledged to back Australia in its ongoing stoush with Beijing, raising concerns over rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong in a joint statement signed by the two countries on Tuesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also drew fire from Beijing by referring to Taiwan, along with Australia and New Zealand, as a “country” during remarks to the country’s parliament.

Mr Wang said the “flagrant” intervention had “severely violated” a commitment from Japan to refer to Taiwan as part of China, claiming Beijing had made representations to Tokyo over the comments.

“We ask Japan to make prompt clarification, remove the severe damage and ensure that such things won’t happen again,” he said.

“There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.

“We seriously urge the Japanese side to earnestly honour its commitment, be prudent in words and actions, avoid undermining China‘s sovereignty in any form, and refrain from sending any wrong signal to the Taiwan independence forces.”

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