Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made his first comments at a regular press conference in Beijing on Wednesday, alleging that the failure of dozens of Australian coal cargo ships to unload at Chinese ports is related to “failed environmental tests.
In response to a question from a Bloomberg reporter, an analysis of data from the agency and the company showed that some 50 Australian coal-loaded ships are stranded in Chinese ports, waiting to unload their cargoes. Why are these ships unable to unload or divert their cargo to other ports? Zhao Lijian said that the Chinese customs found many cases of environmental failure of imported coal, which is a move to strengthen quality safety and environmental program testing to protect the rights of Chinese enterprises and environmental safety, etc. Zhao Lijian also refused to provide more details, citing “specific questions to the competent authorities”. Zhao also declined to provide more details, citing “specific questions from the competent authorities” as the reason.
Reuters notes that China previously told major manufacturers to avoid buying coal from Australia as part of a broader move to restrict Australian imports. This “adds fuel” to tensions between China and Australia after a backlash from China over Australia’s advocacy of a new coronavirus investigation.
China is the world’s leading coal consumer. According to data, more than 40% of China’s total coking coal imports in 2019 will come from Australia, and about 57% of its thermal coal imports will come from Australia.