Australia’s veto on Chinese deals raises bilateral tensions

Sydney, Australia, Apr 22 (EFE).- Australian vetoed two agreements between China and the region of Victoria on projects related to the New Silk Road, a strategic plan of Beijing, by alleging the defense of its national interest.

Canberra, which for the first time exercised the powers to veto agreements between the jurisdictions of the country and foreign nations, argued its decision announced last night by influencing “inconsistencies with foreign policy.”

The agreements revoked between Victoria and China involved memoranda of understanding signed in 2018 and 2019, although, according to public broadcaster ABC, these did not commit the regional government to specific projects and were not legally binding.

The government also revoked two agreements between the Australian state and Iran and Syria, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

The chancellor said Thursday in statements to ABC that the recalls “are focused on Australian national interests,” adding that “they do not target any country” in particular.

The Canberra decision follows the framework of a law approved in December 2010 by Parliament with the aim of protecting national interests.

The Chinese embassy in Canberra criticized the veto and called the measure “another irrational and provocative action by Australia against China,” according to a statement issued at about midnight.

The Chinese embassy said the measure “aims to further damage the bilateral relationship and will only end up damaging itself.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision comes at a time of tension between Canberra and Beijing, which have led to a commercial conflict with the imposition of tariffs on several Australian exports to China.

China’s Deputy Head of Mission in Australia Wang Xining, said the relationship began to deteriorate in 2018 when Australia decided to exclude telecommunications company Huawei from its 5G network.

“Australia even tried to persuade others to follow,” the Chinese diplomat said Wednesday in a presentation at the Press Club in Canberra, without providing evidence.

Australia passed a series of laws to block alleged foreign interference in the country’s politics and economy, without directly citing China, who is suspected of launching computer attacks against universities and government entities. EFE


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