India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar criticized China’s use of trade bans as political punishment against Australia, saying economic decisions should be governed by rules and not politically influenced.
China severed ties with its largest trading partner, Australia, in 2020 after when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an investigation on the origins of COVID-19 which was first discovered in Wuhan, China.
Beijing responded by blocking more than $20 billion worth of Australian exports to China.
When asked by the Sydney Morning Herald whether Beijing’s actions constituted economic coercion, Jaishankar said, “You know that bit – if it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck.”
“A lot of the progress and prosperity of the last 70 to 80 years is because of the fact that trade has been governed by rules and not politically influenced or driven or determined,” Jaishankar told the paper.
Jaishankar was in Melbourne, Australia last week for a meeting of the Quad, a partnership made up of India, Japan, Australia and the U.S. created to coordinate a response against China’s increasing power.
The foreign minister said that the four countries agreed that “politics should not be conducted by coercion at any time.”
China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had responded to the Quad’s remarks on Monday, saying, “The label of ‘economic coercion’ cannot be pinned on China. All attempts to gang up with others to misrepresent facts and resort to malicious hype-up are bound to fail.”
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