Nov. 27 (UPI) -- China on Friday announced it was increasing tariffs on Australian wine imports, some as high as 200%, as tensions between the two nations continue to climb.
China's Ministry of Commerce announced the decision to increase tariffs on Australian wine due to preliminary results of an anti-dumping investigation that found China's domestic industry was damaged by Australia's actions.
Tariffs between 107.1% and 212.7% will be applied from Saturday, it said in a statement.
Australia's minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, called the move "a devastating blow" to the wine industry while rejecting the accusation that they were participating in price dumping.
"These are very signifiant impositions on Australian wine," he said in a short press conference on the matter Friday. "They will have the effect of rendering largely unmarketable, unviable the Chinese wine industry or the Chinese wine market for Australian producers."
He said the notion that Australia has subsidized its wine industry to sell product at or below cost in international markets is untrue and that they will defend their wine producers.
Birmingham said the move, which follows China imposing other trade sanctions against the Oceania country this year, suggests they are punitive more than economic.
"The cumulative impact of China's trade sanctions against a number of Australian industries in the course of this year does give rise the perception that these actions are being undertaken as a result or in response to some other factors," he said without specifying.
Relations between China and Australia have soured in the past year with the Asian nation imposing tariffs on Australian barley in May among other such moves.
Last week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blamed Australia in an interview with state-run media Global Times for the downturn in relations due to its "Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice" as some people in the nation "tend to regard China's development as a threat."
Australia in the past year has pushed back against China's human rights abuses and banned its behemoth electronics company Huawei from participating in its development of 5G internet infrastructure over national security concerns.
In April, Australia joined the United States in endorsing an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus -- a move that China's ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, warned may lead to a Chinese boycott of Australian products.
Australia also ended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in early July after Beijing implemented a draconian and widely condemned national security law upon the former British colony.
Zhao said China doesn't want to see its relationship deteriorate with Australia but "the responsibility for causing this situation doesn't lie with China at all."
"We hope that the Australian side will own up to the real reason for the setback in bilateral relations, look at China and China's development objectively and rationally, earnestly handle bilateral relations based on mutual respect and equal treatment and do more things conducive to enhancing mutual trust and promoting pragmatic cooperation between the two countries," he said.