The Chinese government has been accused of creating the coronavirus pandemic thanks to its ‘gross negligence, obsessive secrecy and brazen dishonesty’.
Its communist leaders are even using the catastrophe to advance their interests abroad while the weakened world struggles with death and recession, the United States ambassador to Australia claimed.
Describing Chinese president Xi Jingping’s regime as ‘bullies’, ambassador Arthur B Culvahouse accused the nation of capitalising on the crisis for its own economic gain.
The country stands accused of covering up the existence of COVID-19 when it began spreading throughout China, killing 4,600 people.
A wet market in the Chinese city of Guangzhou is seen open on May 4 (pictured) despite such markets believed to be the source of the coronavirus outbreak
United States Ambassador to Australia Arthur B Culvahouse (pictured, left, in January with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, right) accused China of ‘obsessive secrecy’
Officials believe that if Jingping’s government had been honest from the beginning of the outbreak, countless lives could have been saved.
Writing a blog about America and Australia’s ‘unbreakable alliance’, Mr Culvahouse said China had ‘exported the virus to the world’.
‘What Foreign Minister Marise Payne rightly referred to as destabilising activities are hardly new tactics from the CCP playbook,’ he wrote.
‘But they are being pursued with shocking new vigour as the rest of the world is focused on combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘One which the CCP — through gross negligence, obsessive secrecy and brazen dishonesty — first covered up while exporting it to the world.
Workers at a factory in Wuhan are seen being tested for the coronavirus on May 15 (pictured) after the city ended its lockdown
Vendors wearing masks sell seafood on Xihua Farmer’s Market in Guangzhou, China on May 4 (pictured)
‘Sadly, in this playbook creating a global pandemic is treated as one more opportunity to advance geo-strategic objectives.’
Australian relations with China have been heavily strained since Mr Morrison – among other world leaders – began pushing for a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.
His comments come as Australia secured the support of the European Union’s top foreign minister to launch an independent inquiry into the pandemic.
An important EU motion is underway to help bring about the inquiry, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been aiming for for weeks.
Locals in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, are seen being tested on May 14 (pictured)
Australian relations with China have been heavily strained since Scott Morrison began pushing for a global inquiry into coronavirus (pictured, Chinese President Xi Jinping)
The EU’s Foreign Affairs High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell told The Age that such an inquiry was critical.
‘To strengthen our defences against future pandemics, we also need a thorough, independent scientific inquiry into the origins of the crisis,’ he said.
China has been lobbying for the inquiry to be stopped before it begins, claiming it is ‘politically motivated’.
But both the United States and the United Kingdom have backed Mr Morrison’s calls to uncover the origins of COVID-19.
Street vendors in Wuhan are seen selling seafood on the streets (pictured) despite the coronavirus thought to have originated in one of its wet markets
A woman is seen selling meat a market in Wuhan on Friday (pictured), the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus
China has since hit Australia with $1 billion trade strikes on its barley and beef.
It is now feared that the Chinese government is set to slap further restrictions on Australian exports in retaliation to Mr Morrison’s calls for the international inquiry.
China’s state-controlled media and trade experts warned Beijing’s boycott could extend beyond beef and barley, with iron ore – worth $63billion a year to Australia’s economy – potentially next in line.
The Global Times newspaper, a mouthpiece for the communist government, suggested China could easily turn to Brazil for iron ore and other commodities – and did not need Australian exports.
Bombshell ‘Five Eyes’ Western intelligence dossier claims China lied about coronavirus
China lied about the human-to-human transmission of coronavirus, made whistleblowers disappear and refused to help nations develop a vaccine, a leaked intelligence dossier reveals.
The 15-page document drawn up by the Five Eyes security alliance brands Beijing’s secrecy over the pandemic an ‘assault on international transparency’ and points to cover-up tactics deployed by the regime.
It claims that the Chinese government silenced its most vocal critics and scrubbed any online scepticism about its handling of the health emergency from the internet.
A staff member is picture carrying out nucleic acid testing work at a novel coronavirus detection lab in Wuhan on February 22
China has roundly come under fire for suppressing the scale of its early outbreak which did not afford other nations time to react before the disease hit their shores.
Five Eyes – the pooling of intelligence by the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – laid bare its scathing assessment of the Xi Jinping administration in a memo obtained by the Australian Saturday Telegraph.
The smoking gun file claims to have found evidence the virus spawned in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, close to the wet market China says it came from and unearths ‘risky’ research on bat-related diseases stretching back years.
It describes how Beijing was outwardly downplaying the outbreak on the world stage while secretly scrambling to bury all traces of the disease.
China’s alleged actions involved ‘destroying’ laboratory samples, bleaching wet market stalls, censoring the growing evidence of ‘silent carriers’ of the virus and stonewalling sample requests from other countries.
The secrecy has fanned a clamour in Five Eyes nations for Western governments to come down hard on Beijing when the pandemic eventually passes.
Tory MP Bob Seely told MailOnline that ‘at the end of this when the dust settles it is also clear that there has to be a re-evaluation by the West of its relationship with China’.
‘The latest meat import suspension and the possible imposition of major tariffs on Australia’s barley exports don’t necessarily represent China’s economic punishment for Australia,’ the Global Times said on Wednesday.
‘Though they may serve as a wake-up call for Australia to reflect on its economic links with China.
‘While China is the only choice for Australia’s massive commodity exports, Australia is not necessarily the only option for China.
Australia’s biggest trading partners
1. China: 25.2 per cent
2. Japan: 10.1 per cent
3. United States: 8.7 per cent
4. South Korea: 4.8 per cent
5. Singapore: 3.8 per cent
6. India: 3.6 per cent
7. New Zealand: 3.4 per cent
8. United Kingdom: 3.2 per cent’
9. Thailand: 3.0 per cent
10. Malaysia: 2.8 per cent
Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade data on market share for two-way trading partners as of 2018
‘There are also other countries like Brazil that can supply huge amounts of iron ore, coal or LNG to China.’
Professor Willy Lam from the Chinese University of Hong Kong told the AFR China would continue to use ‘economic coercion for political ends’ because it ‘doesn’t want an independent inquiry into Wuhan’.
‘This is well orchestrated and co-ordinated [by Beijing]. I think we will see more of this. This [coronavirus] is a weak spot in the narrative,’ he said.
This week China suggested it would impose an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley – and has already suspended imports of Australian beef from four major suppliers.
One third of Australia’s exports – including iron ore, gas, coal and food – go to China, bringing in around $135 billion per year.
China has so far ignored Australia’s attempts to discuss trade tensions over beef and barley imports, and state governments fear they could become the meat in the sandwich as the trade tangle heats up.
Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham confirmed his Chinese counterpart had not responded to requests for talks to end the diplomatic row.
‘We have not secured said meeting yet. I would hope that would be forthcoming,’ he told parliament on Wednesday.
But he later said it was more appropriate that industry sort out the problems with Chinese administrators directly.
TIT FOR TAT: TIMELINE OF AUSTRALIA’S DEEPENING COVID-19 DISPUTE WITH CHINA
February 1, 2020: Australia bans foreign nationals who have travelled in mainland China from entering the country for 14 days
February 13: As the travel bans are extended, the Chinese embassy lashes out, labelling Australia’s move as ‘extreme’ and an ‘overreaction indeed’
April 15: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg savages the World Health Organisation (WHO) for supporting the reopening of Chinese wet markets
April 19: Foreign Minister Marise Payne calls for a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and China’s handling of it
Senator Payne tells the ABC such an inquiry should be run independently of the WHO.
April 26: China’s ambassador, Cheng Jingye, warns the Morrison government its inquiry push could cause a Chinese consumer boycott.
Mr Cheng warns tourists ‘may have second thoughts’ and students’ parents would wonder if Australia is ‘the best place to send their kids to’, and that consumers may not want to buy Australian wine or beef
The Australian government fires back, with Senator Payne saying the country rejects ‘any suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response to a call for such an assessment, when what is needed is global co-operation’.
April 28: Chinese embassy releases an unusual statement describing a call with the bureaucrat in charge of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
In a statement, DFAT says it ‘regrets’ the release of ‘purported details of official diplomatic exchanges’.
The department will not respond by itself breaching the long standing diplomatic courtesies and professional practices to which it will continue to adhere,’ DFAT said.
Editor of state-run Global Times Hu Xijin, shares a post on Weibo saying ties between Australia and China would continue to deteriorate, describing Australia as ‘gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes’.
‘After the epidemic, we need to have more risk awareness when doing business with Australia and also when we send our children to study there,’ he wrote.
‘Australia is always there, making trouble. It is a bit like chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes. Sometimes you have to find a stone to rub it off.’
April 29: Hu Xijin writes a Twitter post admitting China would try to us economic coercion on Australia.
‘Let me give a “coercion” to Australia,’ he wrote.
‘As its attitude toward China becomes worse and worse, Chinese companies will definitely reduce economic cooperation with Australia.
‘And the number of Chinese students and visitors going to Australia will also decrease. Time will prove it all.’
Victorian Consul-General Zhou Long hijacks a government press conference alongside billionaire mining boss Andrew Forrest to discuss his procurement of 10million testing kits from China to be used in Australia.
Mr Zhou uses the opportunity to praise Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.
Liberal MP Andrew Hastie said Mr Forrest had allowed the Chinese Communist party to ‘ambush the press conference’.
‘Now is not the time for games. Australia must come first,’ Mr Hastie said. ‘This guy drops out of the sky in his private jet and enables the Chinese Communist Party to ambush a commonwealth press conference. Yeah, we’re not happy.’
After the event, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urges Australia not to anger China.
‘An Australian prime minister who ends up in conflict with China cannot expect any support or solidarity from the Australian business community,’ he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night.
‘Overwhelmingly, they’re totally invested in the economic benefits of the relationship.’
May 3: Shanghai academic Professor Chen Hong accuses Australia of ‘stabbing China in the back’ over its call for an inquiry in a 60minutes interview.
‘This kind of investigation actually proposed by the Australia side is not an investigation. It’s called an independent inquiry talking about the lack of transparency. That is actually what is about,’ he said.
‘That is actually the problem as there’s no such thing as lack of transparency in the Chinese side.
‘Australia is being and acting as a kind of divisive role, trying to point fingers, even stab at the back of China. This is actually not fair.’