China urges Australia to rectify problematic timber imports
Published: Nov 02, 2020 09:58 PM

Photo taken on Nov. 2, 2020 shows the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Opera House reopened to audiences on Sunday evening, for the first time since March when it was forced to close due to the pandemic, breathing life back into the country's struggling performing arts sector. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)

China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Chinese customs inspectors have on multiple occasions found longhorn beetles and other "harmful" pests in timber imports from Australia, and they have urged Australian authorities to investigate and rectify the problems.

"If these pests are brought in, they will pose a serious threat to China's forestry production and ecological security," Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the ministry, said at a routine press conference in Beijing.

The comments came after foreign media outlets reported that China had halted imports of timber from the Australian state of Queensland amid escalating tensions between the two countries. Australian lobster exports have also reportedly been held by Chinese customs. 

Asked to confirm reports of a ban on timber imports from Queensland, Wang said that "in accordance with relevant national quarantine laws and regulations, the Chinese side has carried out de-hazard treatment of related timber imports."

Wang said China has also notified Australia about these issues and demanded that the Australian side investigate the causes and take measures to ensure such problems would not be repeated. 

"We hope the Australian side will earnestly take effective measures to enhance inspections on exports and ensure that timber exports meet China's inspection requirements," Wang said.

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