Chinese consul-general for Victoria and Tasmania Long Zhou and Health Minister Greg Hunt. (Image: AAP/James Ross)

Many diplomatic arguments are abstract disputes over symbols, status or lines on a map with little impact on ordinary Australians.  

Not so the stoush over Australia’s proposal that there be an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic.

China is upset, and has threatened trade sanctions. The prospect of harsh diplomatic words becoming reality is a nightmare for Treasury.