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China has halted $700 million worth of coal imports from Australia

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(Kitco News) - A huge amount of coal imports are being held off from Chinese ports which are said to be worth around $700 million. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed that his teams are looking into the reason why but this is not the first time in recent weeks that tensions between the two nations have been high.

It seems to have started when the Australian government offered asylum to residents of Hong Kong. This came as the Chinese government made moves to take more control over the nation. 

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, stated that there had been cases where the imported coal didn’t meet the country’s environmental protection standards. 

Zhao said, “In accordance with relevant laws and regulations, customs officials have strengthened quality, safety and environmental inspections of imported coal to better protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and ensure environmental safety,”.

When speaking about the issues, Morrison has said “These matters go to the heart of who we are as Australians, and so we will respect others sovereignty, and we expect nothing else in return other than ours also be respected, as an individual sovereign state, who sets our laws about how we run Australia, here in Australia, consistent with our interests, not at the bequest or at the pressure of any other country.". He then added “Of course we want a happy co-existence and positive relationship with China. They are our single largest trading partner.".

As a guide, Australia exported nearly 75m tonnes of all coal types to China between January and September this year, up 14% from the same period last year, according to figures compiled by Argus.

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