China slams Albanian government for ‘irrational attention’ to warning bells sent to Australian beef industry

China has denounced the Albanian government for “overreacting” to rumors that the Chinese government was about to impose a meat ban.

Australia’s beef industry has been on edge since Monday after a Chinese media report claimed Beijing had suspended its customs clearance for all Australian and New Zealand agricultural imports.

Chinese media spokesman the Global Times said the information came from a Chinese social media account and that Australia’s reaction reflected its “guilty conscience for undermining China-Australia relations”.

“Judging by reports from all sides, there is a clear overreaction to a single market rumor from the Australian side,” the publication said in a post on Wednesday.

“The irrational attention and hype generated by mere hearsay reflects the market’s lingering anxiety over the Sino-Australian economic and trade relationship, which has for some time been under the shadow of political tension between the two country.”

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The Global Times said the online rumor had not been verified by Chinese authorities and the shipments were clearing customs normally.

“The source of the rumor itself is an unofficial report and has never been verified by a Chinese official,” he continued.

“The difficulties facing the current economic and trade relationship between China and Australia are the result of political tensions.

“It was Australia’s former Morrison administration that joined the US-led containment campaign against China and took the lead in adopting policies showing its hostility towards China.”

The post also referenced Prime Minister Anthony Albanese commenting on the alleged meat ban, which is believed to be linked to foot-and-mouth disease.

“The rumour, which first surfaced late on Sunday, has attracted a lot of Australian media attention as Australian beef exporters are reportedly on high alert,” the report said.

“Even Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday that China had no reason to use foot-and-mouth disease to suspend beef imports.”

Australia hasn’t had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in over 100 years, but farmers are taking extra biosecurity precautions after the contagious virus spread to Indonesia.

Earlier this week, Mr Albanese said Beijing had no reason to use foot-and-mouth disease as a reason to suspend beef imports.

He did not comment on the validity of the rumored ban, but pointed to existing sanctions on other products like barley and wine.

Sanctions were imposed on several industries in 2020 after then Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

In July, Mr Albanese insisted that China must drop its trade sanctions against a number of Australian industries before his government began to resolve the once robust trade partnership.

“It was China that imposed sanctions on Australia. They need to lift these sanctions in order to improve relations,” he said.

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