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Australia demands apology over Chinese ADF Twitter attack

CANBERRA, Australia: Australian embassy officials have met their Chinese counterparts in Beijing to seek a formal apology over a fake war crimes Twitter post.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken to Chinese social media platform WeChat to again press Australia’s position. He addressed Chinese Australians directly saying “the post of a false image of an Australian soldier does not diminish our respect for and appreciation of our Chinese Australian community or indeed our friendship with the people of China.”

MPs from around the world have taken part in a campaign encouraging people to buy Australian wine after it became the target of significant Chinese tariffs.

A global alliance of more than 200 MPs from 19 countries has launched a campaign urging people around the world to buy Australian wine in response to China’s “bullying”.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China launched the crusade after Beijing slapped Australian wine with tariffs of up to 212 per cent – a roadblock Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said would render the country’s market “unviable”.

The alliance said it launched the campaign in “solidarity” with Australia while it “withstands intense pressure” from the Chinese government. US Congressman Ted Yoho, one of those in the alliance video calling on people to buy a bottle or two, said China’s attack on Australia for standing up for human rights and transparency was an “attack on free nations everywhere”. The Trump administration has also come to the support of Australia, rebuking China over the measure and throwing its support behind the industry. “Australian wine will be featured at a White House holiday reception this week. Pity vino lovers in China who, due to Beijing’s coercive tariffs on Aussie vintners, will miss out,” it said in a tweet.

 China-Australia iron ore exports rise

The value of Australian iron ore exports to China rose again in October, but analysts expect overall trade between the two countries to wane over the coming months amid a worsening conflict.

Iron ore exports mainly to China rose 14% in October compared to September, with the level driving a strong trade surplus overall for Australia even though coal exports fell 2 per cent, according to Thursday’s international trade update from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In a year on year terms, Australia’s iron ore exports to China rose by 35 per cent.

China is a major destination for both Australian iron ore and coal exports, but the increase in the value of Australia’s iron ore exports was due to an increase in prices rather than volume, analysts said, likely reflecting the continued strong Chinese demand exceeding the global supply of the raw material. The actual volume of exports to China was more muted, analysts said.

“While exports to China increased in October, that was likely due to higher commodity prices. Coal exports fell in the month which may be a consequence of the rumoured restrictions from Chinese state-owned steel mills on Australian coal,” Capital Economics’ Australia & New Zealand economist Ben Udy said.

“The risks to overall trade continue to mount. Given the headwinds, to exports, we still think [Australian] import growth will outpace export growth in the coming months.”

Overall, Australia’s trade surplus rose to A$7.4 billion (US$5.5 billion), up to A$1.6 billion from September.

For China specifically, which buys around 42 per cent of Australia’s merchandise exports including iron ore, the trade surplus rose to A$4.7 billion from A$3.1 billion compared to October last year due to a 13.3 per cent year on year increase in exports of merchandise to China. 

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