Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks

Reuters: Australia summoned the Chinese ambassador to explain comments made earlier which the Australian foreign minister called "a threat of economic coercion" in response to Australia's push for an international inquiry into the source and spread of the coronavirus. Does China have any formal plans to limit trade to Australia and what's the foreign ministry's response to the Australian foreign ministry's claim that this constitutes "economic coercion"?

Geng Shuang: China always develops friendly cooperation with other countries based on mutual respect and equality.

I suggest you carefully read the full text of Ambassador Cheng's interview. What he said was about the concerns that the Australian side's erroneous words and deeds recently have upset the Chinese people and that they may impact bilateral relations. Is there any problem with that? How could it have anything to do with "economic coercion"?

Now the world economy is bearing the brunt of COVID-19 pandemic. China stands ready to work with other countries with stronger cooperation and mutual assistance through difficulties and make contributions to the health and wellbeing of all mankind. We also hope other countries will join China in enhancing international cooperation and mutual assistance, rather than say something nice while doing the opposite.

The Australian: I have read the full transcript of the Ambassador's interview. He says that the Chinese public is frustrated, dismayed and disappointed with what Australia is doing now. What he said was the Chinese public, not the government. I would like to know which Chinese people? I'm an Australian in Beijing and I've never heard anyone criticizing Australia like that except from the foreign ministry or from your ambassador in Canberra.

Geng Shuang: You haven't heard any of that? Do you want to hear some now?

I suggest you read Chinese people's comments on the Internet. Many people criticize China's internet service as "not free and not open", but you can go online and take a look at what the general public in China have said about China-Australia relations and about Australia's recent comments.

Follow-up: I don't trust these online comments. They can be made up. They can be manufactured. Have you heard anyone in the real world express upset outside of the foreign ministry or the Chinese embassy in Canberra?

Geng Shuang: You don't think the online comments are real? Then who made these comments? Robots?

If you haven't heard that in the real world, it's because you are not reaching out to that many people. As a journalist stationed in China, you will need to get a deeper understanding of the Chinese society and what's on the mind of the Chinese people. That's a premise for accurate, thorough and objective reports on China.

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