A new campaign is calling on people across the world to buy Australian wine this Christmas as a way of pushing back against Chinese Communist Party (CCP) attempts to intimidate Australia.

China recently imposed tariffs of up to 212% on Australian wines after claiming that Australia had been dumping discounted wine into China, which the CCP say has unfairly damaged Chinese wine producers. Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has said that the tariffs were “completely incompatible with…a rules-based trading system.”

The tariffs were adopted shortly after the CCP delivered a list of 14 “grievances” they had with the Australian government, leading many to conclude that the tariffs are a political weapon designed, firstly, to coerce Australia into adopting policies that support the CCP’s goals and, secondly, to show other countries that China is willing to hurt them if they adopt policies the CCP does not approve of.

Amongst the CCP’s “grievances” against Australia were calling for “an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 virus”; banning Huawei and ZTE from the Australian 5G network over “unfounded” security concerns; speaking about Chinese activity in the South China Sea; “outrageous condemnation of the governing party of China” by MPs; and “an unfriendly or antagonistic report on China by media.”

The campaign was started by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, an international cross-party group of politicians concerned that China, under Xi Jinping, is actively working to undermine democratic norms and values across the world. The Alliance has over 200 members drawn from nearly 20 parliaments, but no Irish politicians have joined the Alliance.

Irish Government Response

Over the past year Gript has reported numerous reports and investigations which have shown increasingly serious human rights abuses occurring within China. Similarly, we have reported on numerous instances of the CCP attempting to exert political pressure on internal bodies which are designed to uphold democratic norms and the rule-based system of international affairs.

As the situation within China has become clearer, particularly with relation to the re-education camps within Xinjiang province, we have reached out to the Department of Foreign Affairs and directly to Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on multiple occasions asking how the Irish Government plans to respond. Silence and largely meaningless boilerplate statements have consistently been their response of choice.

It is abundantly clear that the Irish government will not do anything that might jeopardize trading links with China, and if that means ignoring a situation that experts are increasingly calling a genocide well then that’s just the price of doing business. We even have historical precedent telling us that ignoring genocide is the right move for Ireland – we managed to be neutral towards Nazi Germany all through WW2. So neutral, in fact, that Otto Skorzeny, one of the SS’s top commandos, moved to Ireland after WW2. In Ireland, Kim Bielenberg of the Irish Independent told the BBC, “He was feted by the Dublin social glitterati… the ballroom was packed with representatives of various societies, professional men and, of course, several TDs.”

Given the abject moral cowardice of the Irish government in this regard initiatives like the above are the only real way in which Irish people can show solidarity with a county which has shown it is willing to stand up to a country increasingly willing to attack those it deems its enemies, be they internal or external.