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Australia cancels its “Belt and Road” agreement with China; Beijing is angry

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne on April 21 formally canceled Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreements with Beijing, saying they were inconsistent with national interests Australian

(Photo: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne)

Ms. Payne exercised her powers recently granted under the Australian Foreign Relations Act to end a total of four agreements, all between the Victorian government and foreign regimes, including Iran, Syria and China.

Under the new law, Australian states, territories, local governments and public universities must notify the Secretary of State of existing foreign policy agreements and proposals for consideration.

Two of them were signed by Premier Daniel Andrews and Beijing National Development and Reform Commission.

The first agreement, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2018, shows the state of Victoria committed to the implementation of Chinese government’s Silk Road Economic Belt infrastructure projects and the Initiative. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, commonly known as the Belt and Road Initiative.

The second Victorian agreement is the 2019 framework agreement to jointly promote the BRI.

Ms. Payne also canceled a 2004 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Victorian Ministry of Education and Training and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the 1999 Protocol on Scientific Cooperation between the ministry and Syria.

“I consider these four agreements as incompatible with Australian foreign policy, or they are detrimental to our foreign relations,” Ms. Payne said in a statement.

The Australian Federal Government External Relations Act also requires the Victorian government to submit documents relating to a third confidentiality agreement signed between the state and the Chinese communist regime.

That agreement was signed in March 2017, 18 months before the first BRI agreement was signed. The Secret Memorandum of Understanding pledges Victoria to work with Beijing on Victorian infrastructure projects through a public-private partnership (PPP).

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he did not see any benefit in the Victorian deal with Beijing.

“If there are benefits, what are they and what has been paid for them? I have no answers to those questions at this point, but evaluation of those agreements will continue, ”said Mr. Morrison.

Following the announcement to stop the BRI with Beijing, the Chinese Embassy in Canberra warned that the already strained bilateral relationship would worsen and Australia “would only hurt itself.”

“We are extremely dissatisfied and firmly opposed to this cancellation,” the embassy said late on Wednesday.

“This is another ridiculous and provocative move by Australia against China. This further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China – Australia relations. “

The bilateral relationship began to strained in 2018 when Australia became the first country to openly ban Chinese technology giant Huawei from its 5G network. The relationship worsened last year when Canberra called for an independent investigation into the source of the corona virus.

Many countries have expressed concern that the lending entailed by the Belt and Road Initiative could lead to unsustainable debts in developing countries, including islands in Thai Binh. Ocean.

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