China suspends major economic dialogue with Australia “indefinitely”

Flags of China and Australia

Flags of China and Australia

China has suspended major economic dialogue with Australia “indefinitely”. This is the latest in the expansion of the diplomatic rift between the two countries.

Relations have declined since Australia demanded an investigation into the origin of the virus and Huawei banned the construction of 5G networks.

Last year, China imposed sanctions on Australian products such as wine and beef.

In a statement Thursday, the Chinese government committee accused Australia of having a “Cold War mindset.”

“Recently, some Australian federal officials have disrupted normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia due to Cold War thinking and ideological discrimination,” the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) said in a statement. We have started a series of measures. “

In response to this decision, Australia’s trade minister Dan Tehan said he was “disappointed,” but Canberra added that it was still controversial.

Canberra has previously described the strategic economic dialogue between China and Australia as one of the “best bilateral economic conferences with China.”

China had previously informally suspended ministerial-level communication between the two countries.

James Lawrenceson, director of the Australian-Chinese Relations Institute, said Beijing’s move appears to be expanding its diplomatic freeze.

“So far, both Canberra and Beijing have said that the core of low-level days continues as usual, and now we see a mess of close cooperation and dialogue,” he said. Said. BBC.

Tensioned trade relations

This move seems to be the latest in a series of tit-for-tat measures between the two countries.

Lawrenceson said Beijing appears to be directly responding to the Australian government’s cancellation of two transactions that Victoria has signed with China as part of its flagship Belt and Road Initiative.

“If this is a degree of retaliation, I would be pretty relieved that Canberra would hit me if it was well coordinated. From we withdraw from something like ChAFTA (China-Australia Free Trade Agreement). It’s a long way here, “he said.

The Australian government has also reportedly sought new security advice on Darwin Harbor, which is leased to China-owned company Landbridge, and some media outlets have reported that the company is a national security reason. It suggests that it may be forced to sell.

So far, China has expressed dissatisfaction through its trade measures, which has affected 12 of Australia’s major industries, including wine, barley and coal.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, China is Australia’s largest trading partner, accounting for 29% of Australia’s world trade in 2019.

According to the Australian National University’s database of Chinese investment in Australia, China’s investment in Australia plummeted 61% in 2020, the lowest number in six years.