January 9, 2021 - Douglas Myser

China slaps tax on australian wine. China has added wine to the growing list of Australian goods barred from its markets in a trade war against Australia over disputes including its support for a probe into the origin of the coronavirus. The Ministry of Commerce imposed import taxes of up to 212.1% which Australia's trade minister said make Australian wine unsellable to China, his country's biggest export market. China increasingly is using its populous market as leverage to extract political concessions and increase its strategic influence. Earlier, China stopped or reduced imports of pork, beef, coal, barley, seafood, sugar and timber from Australia after it supported calls for a probe into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China in December. China slaps tax on australian wine.

China's ruling Communist Party is trying to deflect criticism of its handling of the outbreak, which plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s, by arguing the virus came from abroad, despite little evidence to support that. Meanwhile, Australia is working on a mutual defense treaty with Japan, which Chinese leaders see as a strategic rival, and has joined Washington and Southeast Asian governments in expressing concern about China's construction of military facilities on islands in the disputed South China Sea, a busy trade route.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman called on Australia to "do something conducive" to improve relations but gave no details. "Some people in Australia adhering to the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice have repeatedly taken wrong words and deeds on issues concerning China's core interests," said spokesman, Zhao Lijan. Australia should "take China's concerns seriously, instead of harming China's national interests under the banner of safeguarding their own national interests," Zhan said. Austalia's main stock market index fell 0.5% following the news. "To a certain extent, this is Australia's fault for allowing itself to become a one-trick pony export wise to China", said Jeffrey Halley, market analyst of Oanda.