Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks
2020/12/15

Reuters: A state media report this morning says that Australia is facing clearance regulations on coal. It suggested that there's a more formal ban on Australian coal. Can the Foreign Ministry give any details on that? And also the report cites officials saying that it would reduce restrictions on other coal imports from Mongolia,Indonesia and Russia. Can the Foreign Ministry clarify what restrictions it was referring to?

Wang Wenbin: I am not aware of the specific situation and would refer you to the competent authority. But I want to point out that recent measures taken by the Chinese authorities on some imported products from Australia are in line with China's laws and regulations and international practices. They are also responsible steps to safeguard the interests of domestic industries and consumers. Recently we've seen many reports in which Australia dresses up as a victim, pointing an accusing finger at China, directly or by insinuation. This move is meant to confound the public and we will never accept it. In fact, it is the Australian side that has been politicizing economic, investment and technological issues, and discriminating against Chinese companies in violation of market economy principles and international trade rules. It has gone so far down the wrong path. I can give you three examples to prove my point.

First, since 2018, a dozen of Chinese investment projects were turned down by the Australian side on the grounds of so-called national security, including Hong Kong CK Infrastructure Holdings' takeover offer for Australia's APA Group, and Mengniu Diary's purchase of Lion Diary of Australia. These investment projects cover infrastructure, agriculture and husbandry fields, and their blocks caused huge losses for the Chinese companies. The Australian side amended its foreign investment law in March and June, substantially ramping up its screening on foreign investment in the name of national security. As the Australian media commented, these measures target no others but China. The China-Australia FTA makes it clear that the FTA should provide convenience for investors in both countries and continues to screen investments at lower threshold. So, what's done by the Australian side went against the FTA. Because of these discriminatory actions, Chinese companies' investments in Australia have nosedived since 2017, and the number of last year decreased by 85% compared to the 2016 level.

Second, with no solid evidence, the Australian side led a few others in shutting out Chinese companies from participating in 5G network building. It has yet to offer a plausible explanation for that.

Third, so far, the Australian side has mounted more than 106 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against China, but China only launched 4 such cases against the Australian side.

These actions, in violation of market principles and China-Australia FTA, disrupted bilateral cooperation momentum and damaged Australia's national image and reputation. In contrast, China has been honoring its words and obligations under the FTA. We've been lowering import tariffs for Australia for six years in row since 2015, and now about 95% of Australian imports enjoy zero-tariff treatment. China is committed to expanding opening-up and improving business environment. At the 3rd CIIE, more than 150 Australian companies showed up. This number is higher compared to those of other countries, which speaks to the confidence of Australian companies in the prospect of the Chinese market.

I can assure you that there is nothing to worry about if it is normal exchange and cooperation based on mutual respect and in compliance with rules. On the contrary, what is worrying for us is such moves as politicizing and obstructing normal trade activities, interfering in others' internal affairs in defiance of basic norms governing international relations and even provoking confrontation. We hope that the Australian side will reflect upon its own conduct, match its words with deeds, and provide favorable conditions for bilateral practical cooperation in various fields, instead of the opposite.

As for China reducing restrictions on other coal imports, I am not aware of the situation and would refer you to the competent authority.

 

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