Amid tensions, China is hitting a 200% tax on Australian wine

BEIJING (AP) – China on Friday added wine to its growing list of Australian goods due to controversy banned from its markets in the trade war against Australia, including support to investigate the origin of the coronavirus.

The Department of Commerce has imposed an import tax of up to 212.1% since Saturday, which Australia’s trade minister says makes Australian wine unsaleable in China, the country’s largest export market.

China is increasingly using its populous market to extract political concessions and increase its strategic influence.

Previously, China stopped or reduced imports of beef, coal, barley, seafood, sugar and wood from Australia after supporting the investigation into the origins of the coronavirus epidemic that began in China in December.

China’s ruling Communist Party is trying to deflect criticism by addressing the outbreak that plunged the global economy into its deepest plummet since the 1930s, arguing that the virus came from abroad, despite little evidence to support it.

Meanwhile, Australia is working on a reciprocal defense treaty with Japan, which Chinese leaders see as a strategic rival, and has joined the governments of Washington and Southeast Asia to express concern about China’s construction of military facilities on the disputed South China Sea islands. trade route.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman called on Australia to “do something favorable” to improve relations, but did not provide details.

“In Australia, people who cling to the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices have repeatedly done wrong words and deeds on issues affecting China’s main interests,” spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

Australia “must take China’s concerns seriously, rather than harming China’s national interests under the banner of protecting its own national interests,” Zhao said.

Australia’s main stock market index fell 0.5% on Friday following the news.

“To some extent, it’s Australia’s fault for letting itself be exported as a gimmick pony when exported to China,” said Oanda market analyst Jeffrey Halley.

The Chinese market is particularly important at a time when China is recovering from the coronavirus, while the U.S., Europe and other major economies are struggling with disease-suppressing disease controls.

The Department of Commerce said wine tariffs are responding to Chinese producers in response to incorrectly cheap Australian imports.

The Australian government has denied support for wine exports.

Trade Secretary Simon Birmingham said the accumulation of Chinese sanctions suggested they were due to “other factors” but did not provide details.

“The Australian government categorically rejects any claim that our wine producers would throw products into China,” said Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

Australia has introduced restrictions to prevent foreign influence in its policies after Beijing tried to manipulate its government.

Australia joined the United States and curbed the use of Chinese telecommunications equipment giant technology by Huawei Technologies Ltd. for security reasons.