China defends ban on Australia coal imports and calls hacking suspicions baseless

By Helene Fung

China officially responded to reports of an indefinite ban on Australian coal imports at a key port Dalian in the north of China, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the move is to protect the interests of Chinese importers and the environment.

Only Australia coal is being targeted; Reuters reported that imports from Russia and Indonesia would not be affected.

When asked why Australian coal was being singled out, Mr Geng said the risk assessments followed regulations and inspections measures, and called it “normal practice”.

Reports about the ban had caused an immediate drop in the value of the Australian dollar on Thursday.

When asked if the ban was linked to Huawei being shut out of Australian contracts and the recent cyber-attack on Australian Parliament by a “sophisticated state actor”, Mr Geng said that “One should present abundant evidence when investigating and determining the nature of a cyberspace activity instead of making baseless speculations and firing indiscriminate shots at others.”

Mr Geng however called China-Australia relations solid, and said that a stable relationship “serves the common interests of both countries and peoples”.

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