China’s silence ‘disappointing’

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says it’s “frustrating and disappointing” that he hasn’t been able to hold official talks with his Chinese counterpart in more than a month.

Australia’s trade relationship with China has soured over the past few months as the world grapples with the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

The worsening of trade relations comes as Australia was the first nation to call for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

China recently slapped an 80 per cent tariff on barley producers, banned four beef exporters and urged its students not to study in Australia.

During this time, Mr Birmingham has been unable to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart.

He told the National Press Club on Wednesday the lack of dialogue represents a “missed opportunity.”

“The best way to resolve and to work through differences is through dialogue, and Australia is ready, and willing, to have that mature, sensible dialogue that grown-ups have even when you have differences of opinion,” he said.

And that doesn’t mean we’re going, as I said before, to change our values or to compromise on our policies, but it means that we should be able to get back to the basics of looking at the areas that are mutually beneficial to us, where we can agree with one another and get on with a discussion and work to enhance and grow the relationship in those positive areas. ”

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