China asked the Australian government on Wednesday to take concrete measures to correct its discriminatory actions against Chinese companies, after Australia announced its plan to seek World Trade Organization intervention over China’s barley imports.
“I want to stress that the Australian government should take China’s concerns seriously,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular News briefing in Beijing.
On Wednesday, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia will launch a formal appeal to the WTO seeking a review of China’s decision to impose tariffs on imports of Australian barley.
A day earlier, Wang had refuted recent reports “in which Australia dresses up as a victim, pointing an accusing finger at China, directly or by insinuation”.
Wang said that recent measures taken by China on some imported products from Australia are in line with China’s laws and regulations and international practices.
“In fact, it is the Australian side that has been politicizing economic, investment and technological issues, and discriminating against Chinese companies in violation of market economy principles and international trade rules,” he said.
According to the spokesman, Chinese companies’ investments in Australia have nose-dived since 2017, and the figure declined last year by 85 percent compared with the 2016 level.
The decrease was due to the discriminatory actions taken by Australia, such as turning down a dozen of Chinese investment projects on so-called national security grounds, Wang said.
He noted that Australia even led a few other countries in shutting out Chinese companies from participating in 5G network building with no solid evidence, and “it has yet to offer a plausible explanation for that”.
So far, Australia has launched more than 106 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against China, but China only launched four such cases against Australia, the spokesman said.
Wang said these actions by Australia are in violation of market principles and a bilateral free trade agreement, and that they also disrupted bilateral cooperation and damaged Australia’s image and reputation.
“We hope that the Australian side will reflect upon its own conduct, match its words with deeds, and provide favorable conditions for bilateral practical cooperation in various fields, instead of the opposite,” he added.