Fraying relations between Australia and China have sparked a more than 25 per cent drop in coking coal prices even as iron ore — the other ingredient needed to make steel — has soared to six-year highs.China last month placed what has been seen as an unofficial ban on imports of coal from Australia, following a sharp deterioration in diplomatic relations after Canberra called for an inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. On Friday, Beijing followed up with tariffs on Australian wine.In a sign of China’s influence over commodity prices, since the coal ban came into effect the price of premium Australia low-volatility coking coal — the current industry benchmark — has dropped from $138.50 a tonne to $101.25.Julien Hall, Asia metals pricing director at S&P Global Platts, said October was a “big tipping point” for the market as its recovery from the demand hit caused by the pandemic was put on hold by Beijing’s action.“The need to find other destinations [for Australian cargoes] led to a rapid fall in the price,” said Mr Hall.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has hit back at the Australian government's demands for an apology over a doctored photo posted by a Communist Party official.The photo, blasted as "repugnant" by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has been altered to depict an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of a child atop the Australian and Afghanistan flags.China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian today tweeted the faked image, sparking Mr Morrison's swift rebuke demanding an apology from China and for the image to be taken down...."The Australian side is reacting so strongly to my colleague's Twitter," Ms Hua said, the Sydney Morning Herald reports."Does that mean that they think the coldblooded murder of Afghans is justified? The Australian government should feel ashamed of this; they owe an explanation to the world and they should solemnly pledge such crimes will not be repeated."The Brereton report was actioned by the Australian government after allegations of improper conducted by SAS troops.READ MORE: PM urges restraint over alleged war crimes exhibits at War MemorialMr Morrison earlier today said Australia was demanding an apology and immediate removal of the image, which he labelled as "false and a terrible slur"."There are undoubtedly tensions that exist between China and Australia. But that's not how you deal with it," he said."It is deeply offensive to every Australian who has served in uniform."It is outrageous and can't be justified on any basis whatsoever."