China has suspended beef imports from yet another Australian supplier only hours before new laws against foreign interference passed parliament.

Meramist Pty Ltd is now the sixth casualty of China’s march against Australian beef suppliers.

Chinese officials did not say why the action had been taken.

Previously, China had cited reasons that included labelling and health certification.

On Tuesday, however, a new bill aimed to prevent foreign interference passed parliament.

A fridge displaying beef labelled from Australia are on sale at a supermarket in Beijing.
A fridge displaying beef labelled from Australia are on sale at a supermarket in Beijing. Credit: Andy Wong/AP
 

Under the bill, the federal government will have the ability to review and scrap state, territory, local council and public university deals with other nations.

The foreign minister can assess arrangements between governments or public universities and foreign governments to check if they align with foreign policy goals.

While the substantive laws passed last week, consequential amendments were approved in the Senate on Tuesday.

“The passing of the new legislation is a crucial step in protecting our sovereignty from nations seeking to undermine and interfere with Australia’s institutions at a time of unprecedented level of foreign interference,” Senator Eric Abetz said.

China earlier raised the legislation as one of 14 grievances damaging to its relations with Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time in the House of Representatives.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time in the House of Representatives. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE
 

The feud is the latest episode in escalating trade tensions between Australia and China.

Barley tariffs, followed by restrictions on Australia’s beef, wine and coal industries, have fuelled the tensions.

In May, China banned imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors citing issues with labelling and health certificates. In August, it suspended imports from a fifth.

- with AAP






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