China suspends strategic economic dialog with Australia

Beijing, May 6 (EFE).- China’s top economic planning body on Thursday announced its decision “to indefinitely suspend all activities under the framework of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialog,” which is aimed at boosting economic ties between the two countries.

“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 National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement published on its website.

This led the planning body to indefinitely suspend the strategic economic dialog, which facilitated trade and investment exchanges between Beijing and Canberra, at a time when diplomatic relations between the two are tense.

The countries signed a free trade agreement that came into effect in December 2015. But Beijing this year began raising tariffs on some Australian exports, including a tariff of 218.4 percent on Australian wine from Mar. 28 for five years after a probe into an alleged unfair competition launched last year.

The already strained relations between Canberra and Beijing have been under greater pressure since Australia launched an independent investigation this year into the origin of Covid-19, believed to be in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Australia has also passed several laws aimed at preventing foreign interference in its domestic affairs, without directly pointing the finger at China.

Canberra has alleged that cyberattacks on government agencies and universities had originated from China and also uncovered cases of Chinese donations to domestic politicians.

In the past, Beijing has also criticized the interference of countries such as Australia in its policies in Xinjiang, where the persecuted Muslim Uighur minority lives, in Hong Kong and the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Australia’s ban on Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from providing 5G technology for the country’s wireless networks due to security reasons has further complicated ties.

Earlier this month, the Australian government asked the defense ministry to review whether the lease of the commercial and military port of Darwin to a Chinese-owned company endangers national security. EFE


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