By Kirsty Needham
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia has asked the Chinese ambassador to explain what it called a threat of “economic coercion” in response to Canberra’s push for an international inquiry into the source and spread of the coronavirus.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia was a “crucial supplier” to China for critical imports like iron ore and Australia’s resources and energy helped power much of China’s manufacturing growth and construction.
Australia’s recent call for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic has angered China, its largest trading partner.
Cheng Jingye, Beijing’s ambassador to Australia, told a local newspaper on Monday that Chinese consumers could boycott Australian beef, wine, tourism and universities in response.
Birmingham said on Tuesday that Cheng had been called by the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to explain his comments.
“Australia is no more…