China Warns Australia: Drop Coronavirus Probe or Pay an Economic Price

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The Australian government’s call for China to explain its bungled handling of the deadly coronavirus pandemic could spark a boycott by Chinese consumers, who may no longer travel and study in Australia or buy major exports including beef and wine.

That was the stark warning delivered Monday by Ambassador Cheng Jingye via an interview published in the Australian Financial Review.

The ambassador said Australia’s inquiry push was “dangerous” and destined to fail, adding to previous criticism from Beijing, which portrayed Canberra as unblinking lackeys of the U.S. in the Pacific.

“I think in the long term… if the mood is going from bad to worse, people would think ‘Why should we go to such a country that is not so friendly to China? The tourists may have second thoughts’,” he said.

“The parents of the students would also think whether this place which they found is not so friendly, even hostile, whether this is the best place to send our kids.”

Education is Australia’s third biggest export and is worth more than $30 billion to the economy every year.