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China suspends an economic agreement with Australia

China announced on Thursday the suspension of part of its economic cooperation with Australia, which last month reported that it wants to revoke an agreement on the Chinese “Silk Roads” project.

This attitude by Australia “aims to disrupt normal exchanges and cooperation with China with a cold war mentality and ideological discrimination,” the powerful Chinese planning agency (NDRC) criticized in a statement.

China has decided to suspend indefinitely the “Sino-Australian Strategic Economic Dialogue” and “all activities” related to it, the statement said.

Tensions between the two countries have been increasing since 2018 due to discrepancies on various topics, from 5G technology to accusations of espionage, through Hong Kong or the origins of the coronavirus.

In the midst of this tense context, the Australian federal government announced last month that it will rescind an agreement signed by the state of Victoria (southeastern Australia) to join the “New Silk Roads”.

Then Beijing denounced an “unreasonable and provocative measure”.

Launched in 2013 at the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, this project aims to improve trade links between Asia, Europe, Africa and other areas through the construction of ports, railways, airports or industrial parks.

Relations between China and Australia have been very tense since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year called for an international investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 epidemic.

China, the first country affected by the pandemic, considered it hostile and fostered for political reasons.

As a result, last year China took economic retaliatory measures against more than a dozen Australian products, such as barley, beef and wine.

Australia passed new laws last year that allow any agreement between representatives of an Australian state and third countries to be voided whenever it is seen as a threat to the national interest.

Under the Australian Constitution, the federal government is responsible for foreign affairs and defense and states and territories, for sectors such as health and education.

sbr / roc / erl / erl / dga

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