Around 70 tonnes of cargo including antiseptic wipes, coronavirus testing kits, face masks and other personal protective equipment landed in Sydney aboard a Boeing 747 on April 8.
The plane, chartered from Chinese airline Suparna, flew back to Wuhan the next day, reportedly loaded up with around 11,000 tins of baby formula and 35 tonnes of Tasmanian salmon.
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The organisers of the flight told Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post some of the products – such as the baby formula – would be donated to schools and welfare groups in Wuhan and surrounding areas.
Other products, like the salmon and a smaller shipment of lamb, would hit the market with the hopes of restarting Australia’s fresh food exports to China.
At the time, the flight was hailed as a mercy mission to get medical supplies into Australia, but it appears that commercial motivations may also have played a role in the import.
The cargo from that flight is reportedly still sitting in a Sydney warehouse after the Government refused to accept the supplies, which it hadn’t asked for.
The asking price was apparently too high.
The Australian Border Force told 7 News the cargo was still being examined on Monday.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is reportedly investigating the shipment and has been contacted for comment on the delay.
Sydney entrepreneur Richard Yuan has publicly led the private consortium behind the shipment.
Mr Yuan describes himself as an “Australian China Connector”.
He started the company ABC World in 2000, which helps China’s rich migrate to Australia by providing a “one-stop service” for high net worth individuals, helping them find visas and assisting them “in almost all areas of settlement”.
He’s also chairman of the Australia China Entrepreneurs’ Club and was executive director of the Australia China Daigou Association until February, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“Daigou” is a Chinese term for “surrogate shoppers” who buy products from outside of China and ship them into the country, where the products command a price premium.