China's decision to slap an 80 per cent tariff on barley is a "sign of Beijing's growing displeasure" at a host of policy decisions Australia has taken over the past few years says The Australian's foreign editor Greg Sheridan.
China on Monday evening announced it would follow through on a threat to slap an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley in a move that fanned trade tensions between the two nations.
Beijing claimed the tariffs had nothing to do with Canberra’s push for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 and instead said they were due to concerns Australian farmers were dumping barley in their market below market value.
In another sign of escalating tensions, Beijing's embassy in Canberra issued a statement saying "nothing but a joke" for Australia to take any vindication from signs the world will band together to form an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, a move Canberra championed from the outset.
Mr Sheridan told Sky News China has been displeased with the government for some time.
"It's a sign of growing Beijing displeasure at a series of Australian policy positions, " he said.
"Preventing Huawei going into 5G, not ratifying the extradition treaty, foreign interference laws.
"Australian governments over the last few prime ministers have refused to bend to China's will, and that's built up a lot of ill will."
He said the "extremely aggressive rhetoric" coming from China's embassy is concerning and hearkens back "to the cold war."