Trade tensions between China and Australia are now playing out through an unlikely social media campaign, with an international alliance of politicians calling on consumers to drink Aussie wine this December, in the face of China’s “bully” behaviour.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which is made up of 200 ministers from 19 countries, posted a video on Twitter yesterday in which its members urge consumers to drink Australian wine.
“Next month, we’re drinking something a little bit different because our friends need our help,” Florida Republican Ted Yoho says in the video.
Australian Labor senator Kimberley Kitching also makes an appearance, saying the Chinese government has cancelled a range of Australian imports including wine to “bully us into abandoning our values”.
— Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (@ipacglobal) December 1, 2020
Speaking to SmartCompany, Constantine Frantzeskos, founder of digital strategy agency PENSO, says while ‘hashtag diplomacy’ is generally an empty gesture, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot happening behind the scenes.
“The use of social media for such a campaign is unlikely to change anything at a government level, but it does demonstrate to business owners and voters that governments are fighting on their behalf,” Frantzeskos says.
“It also shows a willingness of governments worldwide to step in and address situations that are affecting other nations.”
Frantzeskos doubts a couple of MPs tweeting ‘drink Australian wine’ will increase sales, but he does say it could encourage Australians to think about the challenges facing our exports and stir up an effort for change at a grassroots level.
IPAC’s campaign comes after the Chinese government imposed tariffs of 107% to 212% on Australian wines, alleging Australia is fixing the cost of wine at an unfair price.
In the campaign video, Swedish municipal councillor, Elisabet Lann is shown enjoying a glass of Australian red, while calling on viewers to drink “a bottle or two of Australian wine” to let China know “we will not be bullied”.
Australian Grape and Wine general manager for government relations Lee McClean says IPAC’s #StandwithAustralia campaign in not necessarily a bad idea.
McClean says unlike IPAC, his association is not in the business of politics, but he welcomes any campaign that results in people drinking more Australian wine in overseas markets.
“The alliance itself is very much based on geopolitics, there’s no question about that,” McClean says.
“But, equally I’m sure if they are calling for people to drink Australian wines, their motivation is in the right place.”