Cultural differences between Australia and China play a big part in the rising tensions over COVID-19, University of Newcastle law lecturer Bin Li says.
Dr Li said the Chinese government's move against beef and barley was "unfortunate for Australian workers and Chinese consumers".
Hunter beef farmers have been affected by China's ban on four large Australian beef abattoir plants, which followed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's call for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.
A motion led by the European Union and Australia for an independent review of the coronavirus passed the World Health Assembly unanimously this week.
Countries involved in the World Health Organisation's annual assembly, which was held online, adopted a resolution that called for an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of the international response to the crisis.
This included probing the actions of the World Health Organisation, which stands accused of being unduly influenced by Beijing.
Dr Li, who has lived in Newcastle since 2016, believed "the call for an inquiry is a fair one".
He gave an insight into why China reacted angrily to Australia, saying the word inquiry was a "very sensitive term in Chinese culture".
"In my view, the current situation would have been better if a bilateral discussion happened between Australia and China before the government started to push for the inquiry.
"China would feel very insulted by this move without any prior discussion."
Beijing believed Canberra's call for the inquiry was politically motivated. In this context, the Chinese leadership considered the Australian government to be acting like a puppet of the United States.
"As an individual, I understand the longstanding alliance between the US and Australia," Dr Li said.
But he noted that American criticism of China over COVID-19 had occurred while the US was "not doing great at all in controlling the virus in its own country".
Nevertheless, China has been accused of covering up the extent of the coronavirus crisis when it first broke out, denying other nations crucial time to prepare.
And when Australia announced a travel ban for foreigners travelling from China to help suppress the virus, Beijing criticised Canberra.
Dr Li agreed with comments from Canberra's first ambassador to Beijing, Stephen FitzGerald, who told the SMH: "It is no help for either side to be engaging in tit for tat".
"He made some very good statements that we should have a problem-solving mindset," Dr Li said.
Meanwhile, on a more personal level, Dr Li said he experienced "a bit of cultural shock" in Newcastle at the beginning of the pandemic.
"Most residents in Newcastle didn't wear face masks but I did. And I was regarded as someone very strange," he said with a laugh.
Dr Li said there were three confirmed COVID-19 cases in his home town in China, but the situation had stabilised and his family was OK.
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