Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian:
Some Australian beef products don't meet import requirement
At a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on May 12, Spokesperson Zhao Lijian answered questions of some Australian journalists on China’s decision to suspend processing four Australian companies' import declarations for meat products and etc..
ABC Australia: Four Australian beef exporters, according to the China's General Administration of Customs, have been put on a list which will not be allowed to export beef. We don't know what are the reasons for this. Is the Foreign Ministry able to provide any clarity on the reasons for this? And given that not long ago, the Chinese ambassador to Australia mentioned that Chinese consumers may not wish to consume Australian beef as they are upset about the Australian push for an independent international review of COVID-19 sources. This has been referred to by some as China's "economic coercion". Is this linked with the restrictions on beef import?
Zhao Lijian: We have noted relevant reports. We have learned that China Customs detected repeated violations of inspection and quarantine requirements agreed by Chinese and Australian authorities in a few Australian companies' export of beef products to China. To safeguard Chinese consumers' health and safety, China has decided to suspend effectively immediately, processing four Australian companies' import declarations for meat products. The relevant Australian department has been informed of this decision. The Chinese side has asked the Australian side to conduct a thorough investigation to find the cause and address the issue. You may get more specifics from the competent Chinese authorities.
As you mentioned remarks by the Chinese ambassador to Australia, I want to stress that China always develops friendly cooperation with other countries based on mutual respect and equality. I suggest you carefully read the full text of the ambassador's interview. He was talking about the concerns that the Australian side's recent erroneous words and deeds 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"?
The Australian side has been pushing for a so-called independent international review of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have repeatedly stated China's position on this. As is known by all, the issue of the origin and transmission of the virus needs to be assessed scientifically by medical professionals. Political maneuvers under the context of the pandemic will only disrupt international anti-virus cooperation and won't gain any support.
Now as the world economy is bearing the full-blown impact of COVID-19, China stands ready to strengthen cooperation with other countries, enhance mutual assistance, and contribute to the health and well-being of all mankind. We also hope other countries will join China in promoting international cooperation and mutual trust, rather than say something nice while doing the opposite.