Australia ends China deals on national interest grounds

The 'Belt and Road' deals struck with Beijing in 2018 and 2019 triggered the legislative response.

Published: 22nd April 2021 10:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2021 10:10 AM   |  A+A-

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne (Photo | AP)


CANBERRA: Australia has cancelled two Chinese "Belt and Road" infrastructure building initiative deals with a state government, provoking an angry response from Beijing.

The bilateral deals with Victoria state were among four vetoed under new laws that give the federal government power to overrule international agreements by lower-level administrations that violate the national interest, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said late Wednesday.

The "Belt and Road" deals struck with Beijing in 2018 and 2019 triggered the legislative response.

Victoria Education Department pacts signed with Syria in 1999 and Iran in 2004 were also cancelled.

"I consider these four arrangements to be inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations," Payne said.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia said in a statement the decision "further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations."

"It is bound to bring further damage to bilateral relations, and will only end up hurting itself," the embassy said on Thursday, referring to the Australian government.

Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party's English-language mouthpiece, said in a headline: "Australia faces serious consequences for unreasonable provocation against China."

The move "marks a significant escalation that could push icy bilateral relations into an abyss," the newspaper added.

Australia's bilateral relations with its most important trading partner are at their lowest point in decades.

Chinese government ministers refuse to take phone calls from their Australian counterparts, and trade disruptions are widely seen as China imposing economic punishment.

But Payne said on Thursday she did not expect China would retaliate.

"Australia is operating in our national interests. We are very careful and very considered in that approach," Payne told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"It's about ensuring that we have a consistent approach to foreign policy across all levels of government, and it isn't about any one country," she said.

"It is most certainly not intended to harm Australia's relationships with any countries."


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp