Revealed: Rogue MP’s letter to Chinese ambassador


REBEL MP George Christensen - thwarted by colleagues in demanding China front an inquiry - has doubled down and personally written to the ambassador calling for him to answer questions about economic boycotts.

It can be revealed Coalition and Labor MPs on a joint committee that Mr Christensen chairs, stopped his correspondence to Cheng Jingye being sent, prompting the maverick to personally fire off a letter to the ambassador yesterday.

As fears of a trade war with China reach fever pitch, Mr Christensen's calls for an explanation about a growing list of boycotts were backed up by a growing number on Scott Morrison's back bench.

The joint parliamentary probe - set up by the Member for Dawson - blindsided cabinet ministers, and was done without the approval of Trade Minister Simon Birmingham.

Senator Birmingham has reached out to China about its decision to suspend beef imports from four abattoirs but he has been ignored.

Chinese media has warned it should serve as a wake-up call to Australia.

Mr Christensen, the chair of Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth, informally renamed the Inquiry Into Diversifying Australia's Trade and Investment Profile, set up in February, the "China Inquiry".

The letter, fired off to Cheng yesterday and exclusively obtained by The Courier-Mail, will further inflame Australia-Sino tension.

Mr Christensen also used parliamentary privilege to swing the bat, saying: "We can keep giving in to communist China's threats, or we can stand up for our sovereignty and our economic independence.

"With more than 36 per cent of our exports being sold to China, representing 7.9 per cent of GDP, it's clear we have put too many eggs in the one basket.

"China now owns over 9.1 million hectares of our country: farms, factories, airports, resort islands, seaports, wind farms, solar farms and coalmines.

"They own more water than there is in Sydney Harbour - water that should be in the hands of Aussie farmers.

"Being so entangled with an authoritarian regime has left our nation open to economic blackmail and boycotts, like that mooted by China's ambassador and the actions recently against both our barley and beef exports."

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has urged caution on language used about China, but said free speech was a core principle of the Coalition.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong, who has urged Senator Payne to be more vocal, argued for "more Marise Payne and less George Christensen".

Originally published as Revealed: Rogue MP's letter to Chinese ambassador