China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said all activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue had been ‘indefinitely suspended’. The decision is based ‘on the current attitude of the Australian Commonwealth government toward China-Australia cooperation’, it said.
“Recently, some Australian Commonwealth government officials launched a series of measures to disrupt the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia out of cold war mindset and ideological discrimination,” the statement said.
China’s suspension of the dialogue comes a week after Australian PM took a decision to scrap Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement with China. The Morrison government’s decision to scrap Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement with China was based on Australia’s new Foreign Relations Act.
Australia’s federal government has also announced it would examine whether the lease of the Darwin Port to a Chinese company should be abolished due to national security concerns.
The China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue is part of a series of bilateral talks that facilitate more cooperation between the two countries, particularly in trade. The inaugural session was held in June 2014, the second in June 2015, with the last known meeting held in Beijing in September 2017.
Australia responded to China’s decision with Trade Minister Dan Tehan saying: “We remain open to holding the dialogue and engaging at the ministerial level.”
Relations between China and Australia have been tense since a bitter trade war erupted in 2020, which came after Australia’s call for a global investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Canberra then blocked Chinese telecom giant Huawei for the 5G trials in the country.
China’s imports of Australian fruit, meat and honey have already dropped in anticipation of further deterioration in diplomatic relations. In anticipation of China’s decision, the Australian government had urged its industries to diversify away from Chinese trading partners.