Rogue MP’s move will further enrage China

 

CHINA'S ambassador will be sensationally summonsed to give evidence to a politically charged federal inquiry orchestrated by a maverick Queensland MP without the authority of key cabinet ministers.

In what will create a new diplomatic flashpoint amid increasing tensions between Australia and China, Cheng Jingye will be ordered to explain why the communist nation "economically threatened" Australia before and after the coronavirus outbreak.

The joint parliamentary probe - set up by federal Member for Dawson George Christensen - initially blindsided cabinet ministers, and was created without the approval of Trade Minister Simon Birmingham.

Senator Birmingham has tread lightly with Australia's largest trading partner, which contributes almost $200 billion worth of imports and exports.

While the ambassador has diplomatic immunity and can refuse to appear, it is understood Mr Christensen will unleash a backup plan to force a Chinese representative to front up.

As early as tomorrow, Cheng will receive the official notice to appear before Federal Parliament.

Mr Christensen wants Cheng to appear as early as August.

And ratcheting up the provocation, Mr Christensen, as chair of Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth, informally renamed the "Inquiry into Diversifying Australia's Trade and Investment Profile" the "China Inquiry".

It is a dramatic change given the terms of reference of the inquiry do not mention China by name.

The renamed probe will be viewed as inflammatory by Beijing.

Mr Christensen has declared: "Enough is enough. We must stand up for Australia's sovereignty and economic independence, and against threats from communist China."

 

George Christensen
George Christensen

 

Cheng Jingye
Cheng Jingye

 

Privately, a number of backbenchers are cheering on Mr Christensen and believe it is an inquiry the Australian public wants and needs.

"This inquiry will be the first major look into Communist China's economic infiltration of Australia, through rampant foreign investment and export market dominance,'' Mr Christensen told The Sunday Mail.

He acknowledged the inquiry was not ticked-off by the Government.

"This inquiry is independent of the Government as it was not referred to us by Trade Minister Simon Birmingham but rather one we determined to undertake ourselves as a committee,'' he said.

"We will make recommendations to the Government that tackle the problem of China's economic infiltration of our country and its economic threats against our country.

"It will then be up to the government to either accept the inquiry recommendations or reject them."

Mr Christensen said China had a lot of questions to answer.

"I'd like to know why the ambassador felt the need to mention the possibility of a trade boycott in response to Australia's request for an international inquiry into the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus," he said.

"I'd like to why state-owned and state-controlled Chinese firms as well as visiting Chinese military were raiding our supermarket shelves of medical supplies and other essentials.

"I'd like to know what the real motivations are behind communist China and its businesses buying up strategical Australian land, agribusinesses and assets?

"Are they doing it for profit or to get a closed supply chain that's in China's interest and not ours?"

Comment was sought from the Chinese embassy, which hit back against Australia after Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged an international inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheng said Chinese tourists may have second thoughts about visiting Australia, and parents may reconsider allowing their children to be educated in Australia, which may now be judged as "not so friendly, even hostile".

China also threatened to boycott Australian exports when the previous Turnbull government introduced foreign interference legislation.

Coal, wine and other goods have been turned back at the border for what Australian officials believe was retaliation for unfavourable media attention or political decisions.

Originally published as Rogue MP's move will further enrage China