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 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.