The Asian Age

Oz cancels two China BRI deals


Canberra, April 22: Australia has cancelled two Chinese “Belt and Road” infrastruc­ture building initiative deals with a state government, provoking an angry response from Beijing. The bilateral deals with Victoria state were among four vetoed under new laws that give the federal government power to overrule internatio­nal agreements by lower-level administra­tions that violate the national interest, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said late Wednesday.

The “Belt and Road” deals struck with Beijing in 2018 and 2019 triggered the legislativ­e response. Victoria Education Department pacts signed with Syria in 1999 and Iran in 2004 were also cancelled. “I consider these four arrangemen­ts to be inconsiste­nt with Australia's foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations,” Payne said.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia said the decision “further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations.” “It is bound to bring further damage to bilateral relations, and will only end up hurting itself,” it said on Thursday, referring to the Australian government.

Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party's English-language mouthpiece, said in a headline: “Australia faces serious consequenc­es for unreasonab­le provocatio­n against China.” The move “marks a significan­t escalation that could push icy bilateral relations into an abyss,” it said. —

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