Australians have rallied behind the prime minister for pushing for an independent global inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, which angered the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Beijing swiftly responded by threatening Australia’s exports, banning meat exports from four abattoirs and slapping high tariffs on Australian barley.
Voters have rallied around Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison despite China threats
The latest Newspoll shows 79 per cent of voters supported Mr Morrison’s demands for an COVID-19 investigation, while 59 per cent wanted the government to prioritise relations with the US ahead of China.
Meanwhile, the Coalition preserved its two-party-preferred lead over Labor.
Popular support for the Coalition dropped a point to 42 per cent while Labor’s primary vote also dropped a point to 34 per cent, delivering the Coalition an unchanged lead of 51-49 based on preferences.
In terms of approval ratings Mr Morrison’s satisfaction level remains unchanged at a record high of 66 per cent and his disapproval level has fallen a point to 29 per cent.
These are the highest prolonged numbers for a prime minister since the early days of Kevin Rudd’s first term in government.
Mr Morrison strengthened his position as preferred prime minister over Labor rival Anthony Albanese, retaining 56 per cent support against 26 per cent for Mr Albanese who dropped three points.
The support comes as China ramps up its threats against Australia.
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued an alert warning Chinese people not to travel to Australia on Saturday, citing a ‘significant increase’ in racist attacks on Chinese and Asian people.
More than 1.2 billion Chinese tourists visited Australia last year – the largest market segment. They spent a total of $12.4 billion which averaged about $215 per night, Tourism Australia says
As of the 2016 Census, there were 509,557 Chinese-born people and 86,888 people born in Hong Kong were in Australia. China issued an alert warning its citizens not to come to Australia
‘The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia,’ the warning said.
The alert gave no specific examples of racism.
China itself is no stranger to racism, with Human Rights Watch urging Beijing to stop the discrimination against 14,000 African migrants in Guangdong province in May.
Australia lobbied for the World Health Organisation to independently investigate the origins of coronavirus, angering China. More than 110 nations supported Australia’s call
Pictured: an African restaurant in Guangzhou, China, on April 13. Many foreigners reported racial discrimination by the city’s authorities in April, when Africans were kicked out of rental accommodation, and were refused service in hotels, shops and restaurants
In early April, Chinese authorities in the southern city of Guangzhou began forcibly testing Africans for coronavirus, Human Rights Watch reported.
Chinese landlords then evicted African residents forcing them to sleep on the streets and Chinese hotels, shops and restaurants refused service to African customers.
China rejected all accusations despite many reports from foreigners in Guanghzhou.
The CCP’s travel warning on Australia sparked fears in the tourism and higher education sectors and is widely viewed as yet another jab in Beijing’s trade retaliation against Canberra.
More than 1.2 million Chinese tourists – the largest proportion of visitors – visited Australia last year according to Tourism Australia.
They spent a total of $12.4 billion which averaged about $215 per night.
About 100,000 Chinese students are enrolled in Australia’s universities providing a large source of profits each year for the $36 billion education-selling industry.
The coronavirus crisis has exposed the depth of Australia’s dependence on China, creating a structural economic problem.
China announced an 80.5% tariff on barley exports starting May 19, in what is widely seen as retaliation for Australia’s push for a coronavirus investigation. Pictured: a barley farmer in NSW
Pictured: Scott Morrison shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Xinping
Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said China’s travel alert was not true.
‘We reject China’s assertions in this statement, which have no basis in fact,’ Senator Birmingham told AAP in a statement on Saturday.
‘Our rejection of these claims, which have been falsely made by Chinese officials previously, is well known to them.’
Australia’s export markets in 2019
1. China: $135 billion (33% of total Australian exports)
2. Japan: $36 billion (9%)
3. South Korea: $21 billion (5%)
4. United Kingdom: $16 billion (3.8%)
5. United States: $15 billion (3.7%)
Mr Birmingham also said Australia was ‘the most successful multicultural and migrant society in the world’.
As of the 2016 Census, there were 509,557 Chinese-born people in Australia of whom 36.3 percent were citizens.
A further 86,888 people born in Hong Kong were in Australia, of whom 75.3 percent were citizens.
A handful of incidents involving racism have made headlines in Australian media over the last few months.
In April, an irate woman was filmed screaming racist abuse at Telstra workers in Sydney’s southern suburb of Miranda, telling them to ‘go back to China’ after they asked her questions to ensure coronavirus safety.
A commuter was filmed hurling abuse at a passenger, calling him a ‘disease carrying motherf**ker.’
At the time, Prime Minister Scott Morrison publicly addressed the incidents.
‘It was the Chinese Australian community that actually protected Australia so early on in this virus outbreak around the world,’ he said.
‘Sure the virus started in Wuhan, in China, that’s what happened, that’s just a fact.
‘But that doesn’t mean that this was, it has any nationalistic, or or any other sort of characteristics to it.
‘That’s just where it started.’
The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in a statement on Friday that ‘Asian people’ were being targeted with racism. Pictured: Chinese president Xi Jinping
AMBASSADOR’S ECONOMIC THREAT TO AUSTRALIA
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Ambassador Cheng slammed Australia’s push for a global inquiry as ‘political’ and warned Chinese consumers could boycott the country.
Answering a question about whether China could boycott Australian iron ore or gas, Mr Cheng instead focused on China’s contribution to Australia’s agriculture, tourism and education sectors.
Mr Cheng said: ‘I think if the mood is going from bad to worse, people would think why we should go to such a country while it’s not so friendly to China.
‘The tourists may have second thoughts. Maybe the parents of the students would also think whether this place, which they find is not so friendly, even hostile, is the best place to send their kids to.
‘So it’s up to the public, the people to decide. And also, maybe the ordinary people will think why they should drink Australian wine or eat Australian beef.’