AUSTRALIA SCRAPS CHINA DEALS OVER ‘NATIONAL INTEREST’
Australia said a decision to cancel two deals between Victoria state and China on the Belt and Road Initiative was about ensuring consistency in foreign relations and was not aimed at any country, Kirsty Needham reported for Reuters.
The Chinese embassy earlier criticized the move by Foreign Minister Marise Payne to veto two framework agreements signed by Victoria state as “provocative” and said it would further damage ties with Australia. Payne said on Thursday she had received a thousand notifications from the states about deals they had with foreign governments under a new process that gives her veto over such arrangements.
"This scheme is very focused on Australia's national interest. It’s about ensuring consistency of our foreign relations across Australia and it's most certainly not aimed at any one country," she told ABC radio's AM program.
Beijing had been notified of the decision before it was made public on Wednesday evening. She added Australia was committed to engaging with China and was "asking all governments around the world to respect our government's decision-making authority."
Australia's conservative coalition government had declined to agree to a country-level MOU with China on the Belt and Road Initiative. But Victoria Labor Premier Dan Andrews signed an agreement to promote the infrastructure development initiative in 2018 and 2019, saying it would bring Chinese investment to his state.
The Chinese embassy said in a statement the cancellation was "another unreasonable and provocative move taken by the Australian side against China."