Australia and China are locked in a diplomatic spat after the government has demanded a coronavirus investigation

Business

If trade with China declined as ties reached new lows over the coronavirus crisis, Australia’s economy will be ‘decimated,’ experts have warned. The calls by the federal government for a ban on wet markets and an investigation into the source of the virus-as well as persistent reports that China was covering up the spread-have infuriated Beijing.

The Chinese Embassy last week called home affairs minister Peter Dutton ‘pitiful,’ ‘ignorant’ and a US ‘parrot’ after he asked China to ‘answer questions’ on how coronavirus started. And on Sunday Chinese Ambassador to Australia Jingye Cheng warned that Chinese consumers can stop buying revenge-based Australian goods. The dispute comes after a torrid year for Australia-China relations saw clashes over political interference, human rights abuses in western China and Huawei 5G equipment.

Dr Raby said Canberra should ‘use the crisis the repair relations with Beijing’ because Australia will need China to help the economy recover after crippling lockdowns pushed almost a million Aussies out of work. ‘We should be talking about how to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again and how we can collectively repair our economies,’ he said. Analysts have long warned against the dependency on one country and have touted India and Indonesia as huge markets – but it will take years for demand in those countries to match China’s.