The Australian wine industry is becoming increasingly nervous about the growing tensions between China and Australia over the coronavirus.
China has threatened to boycott Australian agricultural products, including wine, over Australia’s call for a review into the origins and handling of Covid-19.
It has also threatened to ban its students from attending Australian universities
Any boycott would be a disaster for the Australian wine industry, which exported $1.15 billion of wine to China in the 12 months to 31 March.
The Australian wine industry is already reeling from the disastrous effects of the coronavirus as well as bushfires and drought.
The situation escalated on Tuesday when Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye revealed details of a private conversation with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson.
The Australian reports that the embassy claimed Ms Adamson had congratulated China on its suppression of the virus in Wuhan and “tried her best to defend Australia’s proposal about the independent review” but admitted it was “not the time to commence the review now”.
Mr Cheng has dismissed the proposal for a review as a “political manoeuvre”.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told the ABC, “Our government is very clear that we’ve seen enormous loss of life around the world, of hundreds of thousands of people, huge economic disruption to billions of lives across the planet.
“And of course that warrants transparent investigation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Australia has received criticism for not getting the support of other nations before announcing its proposal for a review.
Australia is more economically reliant than ever on China. Our exports to the country rose by 26 percent to $153 billion last year.
Last year a lot of Australian wine shipments were held up by China for unknown reasons.