The prime minister is staring down Chinese economic attacks on some of Australia’s most important export industries.
Chinese authorities have told tourists and students to reconsider travelling to Australia, warning of a rise in racism.
Beijing has also targeted Australian barley farmers and beef producers after Scott Morrison led international calls for an independent coronavirus inquiry.
Mr Morrison said it was “rubbish” that Australia had been racist to Chinese students and questioned the multi-pronged trade attacks.
“We have done nothing to offend that relationship, nothing at all,” he told 3AW radio on Thursday.
The prime minister is not backing down.
“One thing Australia will always do is act in our national interests and never be intimidated by threats from wherever they come,” he said.
“We’re an open trading nation, but I’m never going to trade our values in response to coercion.”
Australian exports to China were worth $16.8 billion last year, doubling from 2014.
China last month slapped a whopping 80 per cent tariff on barley imports, effectively banning Australian crops.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials met industry leaders on Thursday to discuss expanding into alternative markets.
Catherine Ross from DFAT’s China Economic and Engagement Branch said officials had advised the agriculture sector to maintain composure.
“It’s really important that we have to stay calm and disciplined in our public statements,” she told a parliamentary inquiry.
“Otherwise, quite frankly, we’re playing into China’s hands on these matters. But we are very cleared eyed about what’s going on.”