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‘Standing our ground on our values’: PM stands firm on China

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Earlier this week Scott Morrison called for a global inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.

The Prime Minister has said Australia will stand its ground on values in the ongoing tension over trade with China.

Earlier this week Scott Morrison called for a global inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.

Days later China suspended beef imports from four abattoirs and tabled plans to tax Australian barley, after warning the inquiry push could destroy two-way trade.

READ MORE: Aussies fear for their jobs as China blocks meat exports to largest abattoirs

Scott Morrison speaks in Canberra today.

In a press conference today Mr Morrison said Australia's relationship with China was built on "mutual benefit" and issues over barley taxes have been present longer than COVID-19.

"When it comes to our relationship with China, it is built on mutual benefit," said Mr Morrison.

"And we have a comprehensive strategic partnership which we've formed. And within that partnership, there are issues that need to be addressed from time to time, and the issues around beef and barley are those matters.

"They have been, particularly on the barley issue, been running for some time."

A farmer from rural Queensland says he has been forced to work "for free" amid worsening drought conditions that have forced him to dramatically cull his livestock.

Mr Morrison said he has regular meetings with the Chinese government and both countries respect each others strategies.

"We draw very clear lines about things that are very important to us, as does the Chinese government," said Mr Morrison.

"And we respect their lines, as we expect our lines to be respected, whether it's on our foreign investment rules, or our rules around technology, our rules regarding human rights and things of that nature.

"I don't think any Australian would want us to compromise on those important things. And those things are not to be traded. Ever.

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"Now, our Government is very clear about these things, and we will always continue to be clear. And these are not things to be traded."

Yesterday Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton declared Australia will continue pushing for the coronavirus inquiry.

Mr Dutton said families of coronavirus victims have legitimate questions that need to be answered in a transparent way.

"Australia's done nothing more than stand up for our values and we will consistently do that," he said.

Labor supports the government's calls for a coronavirus inquiry but has criticised its messaging on China-Australia relations.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong says the prime minister should lead the debate and be more clear and consistent.

"I think it is regrettable that much of this debate is being framed and led by conservative backbenchers, trying to outdo each other as to who can be more strident on China," said Ms Wong.

"I don't think that serves the national interest."

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Source: 9News

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