China’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, has said that the Chinese Communist Party may encourage boycotts of imported Australian goods if Australia continue to call for an independent investigation into the origin and spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review Ambassador Cheng also said that an investigation would “disrupt international cooperation in fighting the pandemic” and that the Australian Government was playing “political games” and had “teamed up” with anti-Chinese forces.

Australia has responded to the comments by saying that it will not be threatened by “economic coercion” and that “what we need is global co-operation.”

The relationship between China and Australia has deteriorated substantially since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, with China saying the Australian response to the outbreak has been racist and the Australian Government furious that Chinese firms with close links to the Chinese Communist Party bought up massive amounts of Australian PPE and sent it to China.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been discussing with foreign leaders the need for an independent inquiry into the WHO and the early spread of the virus as part of a 3 point plan for reform of the WHO being pushed for by the Australian government.