Australia does not surrender to Beijing: Defense Minister

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton has declared that the country will not relinquish sovereignty to appease Beijing, following anger over the cancellation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement with Victoria.

Comments will be made after a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry threatened retaliation if Australia did not rewind the decision.

“We don’t undermine our values. We’re not going to give up sovereignty,” Dutton told Nine News on Friday.

“We support who we are. We have very important diplomatic relations with many countries, including China, but we are not compromised by the principles of the Chinese Communist Party. . “

Dutton also aimed at the Chinese administration to build a military base in the South China Sea and launch a cyberattack on Australia.

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May 21, 2015, one of China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea. (Distribution via US Navy / Reuters)

“It’s not all friends’ actions,” he said.

“Yes, we need to make sure that we have an important trade relationship, but China and other countries need to understand that Australia will not be bullied.”

On Wednesday night, Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced the cancellation of four agreements between Victoria and foreign countries, including Iran, Syria and China.

“I think these four arrangements are inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy or are at a disadvantage to our diplomatic relations,” Payne said.

Two of those deals were signed between the current Prime Minister of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, and Beijing’s National Development and Reform Commission.

The first revoked arrangement was a memorandum of understanding signed in 2018, in which Victoria is known as the Beijing Silk Road Economic Belt Framework and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative (commonly known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)). ) Promised to work on the infrastructure project. ..

The second ax framework agreement was signed by Andrews in 2019. The third was supposed to be signed in 2020, but it didn’t happen.

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Victorian premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media on February 16, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Darian Trainer / Getty Images)

The Chinese embassy in Canberra has criticized the move as “irrational and provocative.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wentan urged Australia to “cancel” the decision, but Beijing would otherwise “take decisive and powerful action.”

Richard Mars, deputy leader of the federal opposition, said Australia needed to confront its values, but criticized the government’s approach to foreign policy and said it needed “adults in the room.”

“But it’s a difficult relationship and needs to be managed properly,” he said.

“For foreign policy, you need an adult in your room. This is not what you do in the playground,” Marls said. “The prime minister has no foreign policy and there are basically hidden foreign ministers.”

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Opposition Deputy Prime Minister Richard Mars will address a media conference on December 7, 2020 at the Press Gallery of the Capitol in Canberra, Australia (Sam Mooy / Getty Images).

The BRI agreement was revoked under Australia’s 2020 diplomatic law passed last December amid growing concerns about Beijing-backed foreign intervention.

The law empowers the Minister of Foreign Affairs to revoke agreements signed between foreign entities and Australian local governments and public universities.

Experts predicted that the BRI agreement with Beijing in Victoria would be the first subject of the law.

Other controversial agreements that may be scrutinized include sister city agreements, the Confucius Institute, and academic partnerships.

BRI is Beijing’s $ 1 trillion global infrastructure fund, which has been accused of being a means by the Chinese Communist Party to expand world hegemony.

Some developing countries are struggling to repay their BRI-based loans and, in some cases, are forced to take over control of their major assets and infrastructure to Beijing.

In early April, the European Commission announced that it would not help Montenegro repay the € 1 billion loan it owes to Beijing for the construction of the Barborger highway.