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Chinese-owned Australian wineries report unfair abuse

A few Chinese-owned Australian wineries are reporting unfair treatment and abuse after a social media campaign emerged in Australia calling for consumers to boycott 41 Chinese-owned wineries in the latest wine-related trade spat.

A few Chinese-owned Australian wineries are reporting unfair treatment and abuse after a social media campaign emerged in Australia calling for consumers to boycott 41 Chinese-owned wineries in the latest wine-related trade spat.

The list first surfaced last week, “exposing” 41 Australian wine estates that are allegedly owned by Chinese, following China’s decision to slap between 107.1% and 212.1% punitive tariffs on Australian wines.

The list included wineries in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania such as larger operation including Auswan Greek, the third-largest Australian wine exporter to China, and Kilikanoon winery, which China’s biggest winery Changyu holds a majority stake, but it’s not known the percentage of Chinese ownership in most of the wineries singled out or if they are Chinese owned at all.

The Foreign Investment Review Board in Australia does not specifically include vineyards and wineries in its latest Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land.

Kilikanoon winery in Clare Valley sold its majority stake to China’s biggest winery Changyu in 2017 (pic: Tripadvisor)

Kilikanoon winery for example reported unfair treatment of its staff and a decline in business after the viral social media campaign.

Warrick Duthy, the managing director of Kilikanoon, told Australia’s ABC news, “Our staff, receptionists and people working at cellar doors have been called, asked questions and abused.”

A booking for a premium wine tourism experience was also cancelled after the client protested about its Chinese ownership.

Based in Clare Valley and founded 1n 1997, Kilikanoon sold 80% of its stake to Changyu Pioneer Wine Company for AU$20.6 million in 2017 when demand for Australian wines in China was blistering hot.

Bill Sneddon from the Allandale winery in Hunter Valley said his winery was also subject to abuse, as a result of the campaign.

His company was targeted because it had two directors from Hong Kong.

Despite Chinese ownership or affiliation, these companies are still subject to Chinese government’s punitive tariffs, with many paying the highest at 212.1%.

The campaign also caused backlash since many of these Chinese owned wineries hire local employees, which ultimately will hurt local jobs if the campaign continues.

The anti-China sentiment was inflamed further as politicians rally around Australia to call for support for Australian wines in December to protest China’s “bullying” behavior.

In a shocking move, China slapped up to 212.1% punitive tariffs on Australian wines in late November, and last week it further added another round of anti-dumping tariff on Australian wines ranging from 6.3% to 6.4%.

Australia is China’s biggest supplier of wines, and accounts for about 40% of the market share.

3 comments on “Chinese-owned Australian wineries report unfair abuse

  1. Not all Australians act or feel that way. Please see my article on the subject here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/surely-we-better-than-jeremy-oliver/

  2. Brian Raue

    With over 25 years successfully exporting wine to China, the Australian wine industry did nothing ‘BAD’ other than offer the Chinese consumer great quality wines at ‘value for money’ prices. By doing this our market share in China increased dramatically over the past 5-10 years obviously affecting local Chinese wineries as well as other importing countries. We are penalized for being a hard working successful industry by investing in travel, wine shows, samples and marketing, building ‘Brand Australia’, not DUMPING as alleged by the Chinese government.

  3. There is a larger context here. For a clearer exposition read “Hidden Hand” by Clive Hamilton & Mareike Ohlberg and “Silent Invasion by Clive Hamilton.

    Australia is being confronted by an expansionist, imperialist China that is commanded by an authoritarian one-Party State, the CCP.
    It has mobilised a Chinese diaspora that is used as a tool to assist its imperialist ambitions.

    Chinese in Australia, in our industry, may be collateral damage, as are we, in President Xi’s ambitions [ Note that he has been deemed “President for Life”! – Is this a new form of Monarchy?]

    Let’s not be naive, as successive Federal Governments have in selling citizenship to cashed up members of the Chinese diaspora. We have had a Liberal ex Minister sell Port Darwin; Labor Hopefuls take huge bribes, called donations.

    We have a massive problem in this country with corruption and nothing is being done about it. The Foreign Investment Review Board is an opaque disaster beyond the control of our Parliament with no clear principled guidelines. Capricious opportunism [or bribery?] rules.
    The Chinese Communist Party recognizes a “mug” when it sees one and it is clear we have been gamed.

    We have good Chinese Australians and they must be protected in our multicultural society but good government requires clear-eyed thinking about a new foe facing Australia.
    The CCP is trying to teach us a lesson. Do our bidding or you will be punished. The CCP does not not respect any “separation of powers” vis a vis an independent judiciary as a check on executive government. As with Hong Kong it will betray its commitments and enforce its dictats as it sees fit.
    Our Industry, our Government and our people must not betray democratic principles and kow tow to this new form of fascism coming from Beijing.
    Do what our parents and grandparents did in 1939. Fight fascism and defeat it. To do otherwise is to “live on your knees”.

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