Kunming slams councilors of Australian city for smearing China’s anti-pandemic efforts

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/15 23:48:40 Last Updated: 2020/4/17 5:11:49

Chinese and Australian flags displayed at an investment fair in Shanghai File Photo: IC

A Chinese city slammed Australian city Wagga Wagga's vote to sever their sister-city relationship after some city councilors smeared China's efforts and blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on China.

Kunming, located in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, responded on Thursday to Wagga Wagga's council decision, expressing opposition and condemnation against the slanderous remarks on China made by a few councilors.  

Kunming officials noted that its friendly exchanges with Wagga Wagga have yielded fruitful results, and the relationship between both cities had grown increasingly close in recent years. 

Wagga Wagga city mayor Greg Conkey apologized and said a new motion would be filed soon to reverse the decision, according to Kunming government, who hoped the cooperative relations between the two cities could return to the right track.  

The Consulate-General of China in Sydney on Wednesday also expressed regret over the council's decision and noted the unilateral move not only damaged the friendly atmosphere, but could hurt Wagga Wagga's interests. 

The Consulate-General urged the Wagga Wagga city council to handle relevant issues quickly to avoid a further negative impact on overall cooperation between the two sides.  

Chinese analysts said the move showed that the politicians are short-sighted in diplomacy, acting as mouthpieces of the US and ignoring the need for cooperation amid such a global crisis. 

On Tuesday, Wagga Wagga city councilor Paul Funnell claimed that China should be held responsible for the pandemic and proposed that the city should end its relationship of more than 30 years with Kunming. Wagga Wagga also cut ties with Tieling, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, and the East China province of Jiangsu, according to media reports. 

Funnell, who raised the proposal, also claimed that Wagga Wagga should show solidarity with its sister cities in the US, not China, according to a Guardian report.  

Yu Lei, a chief research fellow at the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries, Liaocheng University, said it showed some politicians in Australia have been following US steps and always treated the epidemic from the perspective of politics and ideology. 

At the very beginning, they gloated on China's sufferings and now, they began to instigate anti-China sentiments after having witnessed the improved situation, Yu said, stressing that it exposed their naive diplomatic thoughts. 

Su Hao, founding director of the Center for Strategic and Peace Studies at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the unreasonable decision politicizes the global fight against the pandemic. 

The move also indicated the tendency of some extremist Australian politicians to smear China in order to show solidarity with the Western camp, Su said.

Yu Changsen, executive deputy director of the Center for Oceania Studies at Sun Yat-sen University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that Wagga Wagga is using this inappropriate move to curry favor with its US friends, and it should note that no US cities have made such a move.

However, Yu Lei noted that these politicians do not represent the attitudes of Australian citizens, and are only a minority voice.

The decision to cut ties was also slammed by other politicians in Wagga Wagga, including Mayor Greg Conkey. He noted Kunming people are "friendly and open" and underlined the city has large volume of trade with China. 

Wes Fang, the Wagga Wagga-based Nationals member of the New South Wales upper house, said the move was "racist" and called for a reversal, media reported.   

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