China scraps China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue as tensions escalate

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China has accused the Australia of ‘insane suppression’ and cut off all economic talks after Victoria’s Belt and Road deal was torn up. 

China’s Ministry of Commerce in Beijing Mei Xinyu blamed the deteriorating relationship on the ‘wildness of Australian politicians’.

‘I cannot predict what further wild things the Australian side will do,’ he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused Australia of having a ‘Cold-War mentality and ideological bias’ towards China. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused Australia of having a 'Cold-War mentality and ideological bias' towards China

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused Australia of having a ‘Cold-War mentality and ideological bias’ towards China

The dialogue was created in 2014 as a way for Australian politicians to meet with Chinese officials and discuss investment and trade deals - though it had begun to deteriorate after the last meeting was held in 2017

The dialogue was created in 2014 as a way for Australian politicians to meet with Chinese officials and discuss investment and trade deals – though it had begun to deteriorate after the last meeting was held in 2017

‘We urge the Australian side to cast aside the Cold-War mentality and ideological bias, view China’s development and China-Australia cooperation in a truly objective light, return to the rational track without further delay and correct its mistakes,’ he said.

‘It should stop the insane suppression targeting China-Australia cooperation, stop politicising and stigmatising normal exchange and stop going further down the wrong path.’

Beijing’s National Development and Reform Commission announced on Thursday it would ‘indefinitely’ suspend the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue.

The dialogue was created in 2014 as a way for Australian politicians to meet with Chinese officials and discuss investment and trade deals – though it began to deteriorate after the last meeting was held in 2017.

The move to suspend the dialogue is viewed as retaliation to the Australian Government’s decision to scrap the $1.5 trillion Belt and Road Initiative that was struck between Victoria and China.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced on April 21 the government would not pursue the Belt and Road Initiative because it was ‘inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.’  

China has imposed heavy tariffs on a number of Australian exports as tensions between the two countries continue to grow (pictured, freighters are loaded with coal at Hay Point, Queensland)

China has imposed heavy tariffs on a number of Australian exports as tensions between the two countries continue to grow (pictured, freighters are loaded with coal at Hay Point, Queensland)

She also criticised the suspension of the economic dialogue between the two countries as a step too far.  

‘We have been very clear that we were willing and able to participate in an ongoing strategic and economic dialogue – that is ultimately a decision for China,’ she said.

‘Australia is very ready to engage in dialogue with our counterparts at any level.’

Trade minister Dan Tehan also expressed disappointment over the downward spiral in diplomatic relations with China.  

‘We want to have a dialogue with China, we want to be able to work through our differences,’ Mr Tehan said.

‘We have a very important economic relationship, which has helped both countries. It has lifted millions out of poverty in China, it helps our standard of living here in Australia.

China blocked imports of most Australian goods - including coal, wine and barley - after the government called for an investigation into the coronavirus, which emerged in central China in late 2019

China blocked imports of most Australian goods – including coal, wine and barley – after the government called for an investigation into the coronavirus, which emerged in central China in late 2019 

‘Our hope is we will be able to have a dialogue over time and work through these differences.’

Tensions have continued to grow between Australia and China since last year. 

China blocked imports of most Australian goods – including coal, wine and barley – after the government called for an investigation into the coronavirus, which emerged in central China in late 2019.  

Chinese ministers have also refused to take calls from their Australian counterparts. 

Relations have also soured between China and Australia’s neighbouring nations as the country continues to assert claims over disputed territories, including Taiwan. 

Earlier, Scott Morrison chose his words carefully as the prospect of military conflict between China and Taiwan continues to grow.

China has warned Australia it must fall in line with its policy to 'reunify' the disputed island of Taiwan if it wants to trade to return to normal. Pictured: Chinese Navy personal stand gaurd

China has warned Australia it must fall in line with its policy to ‘reunify’ the disputed island of Taiwan if it wants to trade to return to normal. Pictured: Chinese Navy personal stand gaurd

Taiwan has warned it is preparing for a ‘final assault’ from Beijing and has called on support from Australia.

The prime minister was circumspect when asked whether Australia stood with Taiwan.

Australia abides by a ‘One China’ policy in its engagement with Taiwan, meaning there are no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei.

But Canberra maintains trade, cultural and other exchanges with Taiwan separate from mainland China. 

Mr Morrison said Australia ‘always honoured all of our arrangements in the Indo-Pacific’ and singled out its alliance with the United States.

‘We’re very cognisant of the uncertainties in our region and I’m not one to speak at length on these things, because I don’t wish to add to any uncertainty,’ he said.

Pressed again on whether Australia stood with Taiwan, the prime minister replied: ‘We have always stood for freedom in our part of the world.’     

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