US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has let rip over China’s trade threats warning the communist regime that “we stand with Australia”.
Just hours 24 hours after China’s state-sponsored media accused Australia of being “a dog” that takes orders from Washington, Mr Pompeo warned the world was waking up to the reality of the communist regime.
“We stand with Australia and the more than 120 nations now who have taken up the American call for an inquiry into the origins of the virus, so we can understand what went wrong and save lives now, and into the future,” Mr Pompeo told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.
“The Chinese Communist Party chose to threaten Australia with economic retribution for the simple act of asking for an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus.
“It’s not right.”
Mr Pompeo said the United States, Australia and other Western countries needed to get real about the reality of the Chinese regime.
“First, basic facts. China’s been ruled by a brutal, authoritarian regime, a communist regime since 1949,” he said.
“For several decades we thought the regime would become more like us through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the WTO (World Trade Organisation) as a developing nation. That didn’t happen.
“We greatly underestimated the degree to which Beijing is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations.
“The whole world is waking up to that fact.”
It was a message echoed today by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who told 2GB radio Australia would never surrender our values.
“It’s important now that we stand up. We celebrate the amazing contributions of Chinese Australians who arrived in the 19th century, who fought alongside our diggers during wars,’’ he said.
“Our problem is not with them. But the values of a communist regime are not compatible with ours so you will have tensions from time to time.
“But Australia is not going to be compromised on our standards, our values and our beliefs. I think it’s right that we stand up for all of that,’’ he said.
Mr Pompeo’s tough rhetoric followed China’s decision to slap punitive 80 per cent trade tariffs on Australian barley.
However, he did not mention the United States had stepped right in to take advantage of the opportunity for US barley farmers to sell more produce to China.
While the barley dispute was longstanding, the timing of the decision within an hour of the World Health Assembly voting to establish an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus has prompted claims it was payback.
This week the diplomatic tensions have intensified, with increasingly bizarre rhetoric from Chinese officials.
The Global Times newspaper, widely regarded as the mouthpiece of the Chinese Government quoted anonymous “Nietzens” or citizens of the internet calling Australia the “dog” of the US President Donald Trump.
“Some Chinese netizens also mocked Australia’s attempts as it has been trying to become a ‘martyr’ for defending so-called independence and transparency while its ideas were denounced by the global community,’’ it said.
“By following the steps of some US hawks who harshly attack China over coronavirus, it seems that Australia, this giant kangaroo that serves as a dog of the US, will hit a deadlock with China on trade disputes in sectors like coal and beef.”
Mr Pompeo said there was no doubt China had engaged in a cover-up.
“Beijing continues to deny investigators access to relevant facilities, to withhold live virus samples, to censor discussion of the pandemic within China, and much, much more,” he said.
The United States has threatened to permanently cancel funding to the World Health Organisation over claims it is a puppet of China.
Earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump unleashed his own verbal barrage on China.
“Some wacko in China just released a statement blaming everybody other than China for the Virus which has now killed hundreds of thousands of people,’’ he said on Twitter.
“Please explain to this dope that it was the ‘incompetence of China’, and nothing else, that did this mass Worldwide killing!”
In Australia, Mr Dutton also took aim at the Victorian Government and its links with China over infrastructure programs.
“It is concerning. We need a greater level of transparency on what’s involved,’’ he said.
“The Belt and Road is a propaganda exercise from China. This is gravely concerning and Victoria needs to explain why it’s the only state in the country that’s entered into this sort of relationship. Premier (Dan) Andrews is inviting more questions than he’s able to answer.”