Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed Australia’s best people are working on resolving why $700 million of Australian coal shipments are held off from Chinese ports.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, speaking during a press conference earlier this week, said that there had been cases where the imported coal didn’t meet the country’s environmental protection standards.
He added that the safety and quality of imported coal were in question.
“In accordance with relevant laws and regulations, customs officials have strengthened quality, safety and environmental inspections of imported coal to better protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and ensure environmental safety,” Zhao said.
The news followed rumours of a Chinese ban on Australian coal in October amid escalating trade tensions between the two countries.
Morrison acknowledged the tensions while speaking at a Today interview, saying, “There are obviously tensions there. But those tensions aren’t resolved by Australia surrendering its sovereignty.”
He added: “These matters go to the heart of who we are as Australians, and so we will respect others sovereignty, and we expect nothing else in return other than ours also be respected, as an individual sovereign state, who sets our laws about how we run Australia, here in Australia, consistent with our interests, not at the bequest or at the pressure of any other country.
“… Of course we want a happy co-existence and positive relationship with China. They are our single largest trading partner.
“We deal with very complicated and difficult issues, which this is one of, but we are very keen to ensure we get the best outcome for Australia and in the best interests of our relationship.”