From Darren Gray & Kirsty Needham at The Age:
Relations with China have taken another backward step after one of Australia’s biggest exporters, Treasury Wine Estates, was among several companies whose products were being stalled because of new customs rules targeting Australian companies and industries….
“Chinese officials have introduced new and different verification and certification processes and we’ve been working with the Chinese authorities and the officials, as well as with Australian authorities and officials, to ensure that we can meet these new and additional processes, which are not just applied to Treasury Wine Estates, it’s being applied to a number of other companies, across a number of different industries from Australia,” Treasury boss Michael Clarke said.
Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said in Shanghai he had been informed of the situation by Treasury, the largest importer of foreign wine into China, in the past 24-36 hours.
“The questions being asked relate to certificates of origin. We will look at precisely what the situation is and if we can get to the bottom of it,” Mr Ciobo said.
….Amid a looming trade war between the US and China, and threatened punitive tariff packages worth hundreds of billions of dollars, American exporters have also reportedly encountered pre-emptive slow downs and extra scrutiny from Chinese customs in recent weeks.
China is attempting to use trade relationships to coerce trading partners into complying with their political demands, applying Lenin’s dictum “Probe with a bayonet. If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.”
Australia faces a clear choice. Acquiesce and the trade issues will likely disappear…for a short time until China wants something else. Effectively we will become China’s southernmost province, responding to the will of the Central Committee in Beijing.
The alternative is a lot tougher: politely but firmly resist any pressure from Beijing and demand to be treated as an equal partner in international relations. The price is high but the rewards are far greater. Our freedom and independence.