Published: Apr 21, 2021, 22:34 (IST)
Australia announced on Wednesday that a state government’s deal with China to join its Belt and Road Initiative has now been cancelled.
This is being seen as an extension of new laws last year which allowed Australian government to revoke any agreements between states and foreign countries which may get in the way national interest.
On Wednesday, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the federal government will override the decision of the Victorian state government, effectively revoking its involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Many critics feel that the series of investments by China are aimed at coaxing financial and geopolitical leverage. New powers would allow Payne to tear up two documents signed in 2018 and 2019 respectively – a memorandum of understanding and a framework agreement.
“I consider these four arrangements to be inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations,” Payne was cited as saying by AFP.
Relations between China and Australia are currently at an all time low, with two countries involved in spats relating to trade and with growing competition for influence in the Pacific. Last year, Australia’s calls for an independent enquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic angered China.
Besides the deal with China, Australia will also revoke a memorandum of understanding from 2004 signed with Iran, along with a scientific cooperation agreement signed with Syria in 1999 by Victoria’s education department.