Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has warned the Chinese authorities against attempts at economic threats over Australia's demand for an independent inquiry into China's initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Payne in a statement said that Australia had made a 'principled call' for an independent review of the COVID-19 outbreak and rejected any suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response. According to reports, Chinese Ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, told the press that citizens of his country could avoid Australian products and universities. As per reports, over two million Chinese students study in Australia and the East Asian country is its biggest economic partner.
Australia last week had called for an independent review into China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak after reports emerged that country was not sharing full information about the disease with the international community. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also been facing criticism for favouring the Communist nation with the United States President Donald Trump calling for a reform in the global health body. Donald Trump also announced halting its WHO funding over its alleged siding with China amid the pandemic.
Chinese Ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, said that the general public in his country would think of not using Australian products and the parents would not send their children to Australia for studies. According to reports, the Chinese foreign ministry also dismissed the calls for an inquiry into China's handling without mentioning Australia. China and Australia had previously suffered a strain in diplomatic relations which resulted in the suspension of Australian products for a brief period of time.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on April 23 had said that all the members of the World Health Organisation (WHO) should cooperate with the proposed independent inquiry into the spread of coronavirus. The virus outbreak that started in China's Wuhan city spread across continents in just one month forcing the World Health Organisation to declare it a pandemic. According to data by worldometer, over 3 million people have been infected by the disease globally, of which 2,07,000 have lost their lives.
(Image Credit: AP)