Kamis, 30 April 2020

Marise Payne, Julie Bishop urge calm in tense relations with China over coronavirus origins - SBS News

Global co-operation not economic coercion is the appropriate way to resolve the dispute over an international investigation into COVID-19, says Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

Speaking on the ABC's AM program on Friday morning, Ms Payne said she rejected the approach of ambassador Cheng Jingye, who floated a Chinese consumer boycott of Australian products in retaliation to tension over the probe, targeting the crucial agriculture, education and tourism markets.

Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman said Chinese diplomats had been "downright despicable and menacing" since Australia started pressing the case for an investigation.

Ms Payne said economic coercion was not the right response.

"We reject any suggestion that economic coercion would be an appropriate response to calls for an independent and transparent review, when what we actually need right now is global cooperation and that is endorsed by many around the world," Ms Payne said.

Australian businessman Andrew Twiggy Forrest.

Australian businessman Andrew Twiggy Forrest.


The comments come as conservative MPs blasted mining magnate Twiggy Forrest for inviting a Chinese diplomat to a ministerial press conference unannounced on Wednesday.

Mr Forrest said his invitation to to address the media had been a "gesture of appreciation and friendship betweenour two great countries".

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the media conference had overshadowed the good work of the Forrests.

Ms Payne said she didn't feel blindsided after Mr Forrest invited the Chinese diplomat unannounced.

"The proper and courteous thing to do was to accept the gentlemen's presence as a representative of the Government, invited by Mr Forrest," Ms Payne said.

She added there was "definitely a need for an independent and transparent review" of the coronavirus and responses to it, but said timing of the review was crucial.

"Many countries in the world are literally going into the challenges of the first wave for them of dealing with coronavirus. So we absolutely understand, and have said from the beginning, that the timing of this is important, but what we do need to do is to put that stake in the ground to say we need to have an independent, transparent review and that's the process that we’re in at the moment."

'More calm'

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop also called for "quiet diplomacy" to resolve the dispute over the international investigation on Friday morning.

"I think we should scale down the rhetoric, more calm and quiet diplomacy, so that we can understand more about this virus, how it got into human populations and whether decisions could have been taken that would have prevented its spread," she told the ABC.

However, she said China had a responsibility to support an independent global investigation if it did not intend to carry out its own inquiry to help the rest of the world learn what happened.

"China should fulfill its obligations as a member of the UN Security Council"

Australian National University's Andrew Carr warned attempts by Australia to rebuke China could distract from calls for an inquiry into COVID-19's origins.

Dr Carr told AAP the current spat was minor in the scheme of things but Australia shouldn't let it slide.

A serious inquiry into coronavirus' orgins could help counter conspiracy theories and racist attacks.

But Australia was well positioned to manage how diplomats inside Australia are supposed to act, he said.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store. SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments.

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2020-05-01 01:59:55Z

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