China’s thermal power plants have received approval from the Supreme Planning Commission to import coal without any restrictions. Except for the coal that comes from Australia. But according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, China’s shift away from quality coal will translate into a deterioration in trade relations between the two countries.
If China were to stop importing quality coal from Australia, morrison said, it would also sign off on environmental degradation in the world’s most populous country. Morrison, however, is particularly concerned about the disruption of business relations. Coal is Australia’s third largest export item, and China is the largest consumer of this mineral ever.
Canberra has been given a Chinese “index” after joining an international challenge whose signatories are demanding an investigation and clarification of the origin of a new type of coronavirus that led to the Covid-19 pandemia. But Australia is also asking China to explain whether it is serious about restricting imports of Australian coal. Any restrictions on this would be contrary to World Trade Organisation rules, according to the Australians.
However, the Chinese side defends that the restriction is in favour of the interests of domestic consumers and that the GOC has the right to do so. Australia has previously complained to China at the World Health Organisation over restrictions imposed on Australian wine, meat, wood or cotton.