China vs Australia: Beijing blows top in extraordinary attack as US tensions rise

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The Global Times – widely seen as the Chinese government’s media mouthpiece – claimed Washington bullied Australia into calling for an inquiry into the origins and spread of coronavirus. The state-controlled tabloid described Australia as the USA’s “lapdog” and said it was serving as a “pawn to create trouble for China”.

Many Australian observers try to convince China that Australia is not a lapdog of the US

Global Times editorial

The article claimed Donald Trump told Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to call for an inquiry into the virus during a phone call on 22 April.

It says: “With the White House promoting the America First doctrine and intensifying its competition with China, Washington’s allies are increasingly required to help serve those goals.

“What the US wants is not equal partners, but loyal followers.”

It continued: “Forcing other countries to choose between Washington and Beijing, it is the current US government that is coercing and threatening.

“Many Australian observers try to convince China that Australia is not a lapdog of the US.

“But if Australia follows its current path, the conclusion is not convincing.”

Australian officials insist foreign minister Marise Payne called for an independent inquiry on April 19, three days before Mr Morrison spoke to President Trump.

Mr Morrison also called German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on the same day as President Trump to urge them to support Australia’s push for an investigation.

Mr Morrison and President Trump spoke on 22 April to discuss the World Health Organisation’s role in containing the spread of the virus.

In a series of tweets after the call, Mr Morrison wrote: “We had a very constructive discussion on our health responses to #COVID19 and the need to get our market-led and business-centred economies up and running again.

“We also talked about the WHO and working together to improve the transparency and effectiveness of international responses to pandemics.

“Australia and the US are the best of mates and we’ll continue to align our efforts as we work towards the recovery on the other side of this virus.”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has agreed to a WHO investigation after more than 100 countries signed a motion demanding one at the World Health Assembly last week.

But Beijing was infuriated by Australia’s calls for an inquiry and branded it a “malicious attempt to blame and stigmatise” China.

And the row over the cornavirus probe calls appears to have spilled over into a mini trade war with China slapping 80 percent import tariffs on Australian barley, banning four Australian beef exporters over labeling discrepancies and introducing new customs checks on iron ore imports which analysts believe are designed to target shipments from Australia.

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