by Arty Katkov
According to Beijing, the Australian Commonwealth Government’s policy toward China constitutes ideological discrimination and reflects the Cold War mindset.
Australia has described China’s decision to suspend economic talks as “disappointing”, with Trade Minister Dan Tehan saying the now-frozen China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue provided an “important forum” for the two sides “to work through issues”.
Tehan, however, admitted that no such talks had taken place since 2017.
Earlier on Thursday, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission announced that Beijing had decided to indefinitely suspend the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue over what it describes as a disruption of normal exchanges and cooperation.
“Based on the current attitude of the Australian Commonwealth Government toward China-Australia cooperation, the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China decides to indefinitely suspend all activities under the framework of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue jointly held by the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China and relevant ministries of the Australian Commonwealth Government,” the commission said in a statement.
China’s move comes after last month the Australian government dismantled a Belt and Road deal between Beijing and the state of Victoria, and last week Canberra said that a Chinese company’s 99-year-lease on Darwin Port was under review.
Australian-Chinese relations have been deteriorating for several years now. In 2018, Australia became the first country to ban China’s tech giant Huawei from its national 5G network, while last year, the country called for an independent probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
China is also currently facing pressure from the Western countries over reported human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Beijing has dismissed the claims as unfounded. Chinese authorities argue that what they describe as vocational education and training centres which are part of the nation’s anti-extremism campaign to help Uyghurs learn the standard Mandarin language and obtain adequate professional skills.