China has responded to a new complaint made against it at the World Trade Organization (WTO) by Australia by filing its own grievance with the body accusing Canberra of anti-competitive behavior.
Beijing has issued a complaint against anti-dumping tariffs introduced by Australia on stainless steel sinks, wind towers and railway wheels, Australian trade minister Dan Tehan confirmed.
While he would not speculate on the reasoning behind the move, he did note the timing of the complaint, coming just days after Australia took its own action against new wine import tariffs imposed by Beijing.
Mr Tehan also observed the tariffs China is now objecting to have been in place for several years without comment. "Two of the measures were put in place in 2014 and 2015, with regards to wind towers and stainless-steel sinks … the other measure was put in place in 2019, and that was the railway wheels," he stated.
The minister also said the Australian government had been surprised by China's complaint as it had come with no warning. The normal process for such matters would involve notification through the relevant WTO committee or bilateral channels, but Canberra has seen none of this.
Meanwhile, another government source told Australia's ABC News it was "obvious" the complaint is a tit-for-tat retaliatory measure by Beijing.
In a news briefing, Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng defended the move, arguing that it is necessary to protect the rights of Chinese companies.
"We hope that Australia will take concrete actions to correct its wrong practices, avoid distortions in the trade of related products, and bring such trade back to the normal track as soon as possible," he said.
Mr Tehan, meanwhile, added that Australia will "vigorously defend" its anti-dumping duties, which he said were introduced following a rigorous process of due diligence and market analysis to ensure they are consistent with WTO rules.