China state media calls Australia 'dog' of US

War of words comes in response to Australia’s push for independent investigation into coronavirus origins

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(AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, tensions between Australia and China have begun to flare.

Chinese state media outlet the Global Times has lashed out at Australia, describing it as a “giant kangaroo that serves as a dog of the US.” The op-ed comes on the heels of Australia pushing for an international probe into the origins of the coronavirus at the World Health Assembly (WHA) on Monday (May 18).

China agreed to support an investigation after more than 110 countries backed a motion at the WHA. The WHA resolution calls for an impartial, independent, and comprehensive study of the global response to COVID-19.

This comes amid a Bloomberg report that Beijing is considering targeting more Australian exports. Chinese officials have drawn up a list of goods, including wine, dairy, seafood, oatmeal, and fruit that could face more stringent quality checks, anti-dumping probes, tariffs, or customs delays.

Beijing has already banned beef imports from four Australian meat processors. It also placed tariffs on more than 80 percent of Australian barley this week, Bloomberg reported.

China continues to be Australia’s largest export partner. Further escalation of trade tensions could be extremely detrimental to Australian farmers, according to news.com.au.

Xi Jinping’s administration has been very sensitive to any criticism of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak and has a history of using trade as a weapon, with Taiwan, South Korea and Japan all having experienced blowback in recent years. However, Beijing does not intend to publicly admit any link between trade sanctions and the calls for the investigation, according to the report.