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China rebukes Australia amid suspended trade talks

·2-min read
Canberra has come into the firing line of China's Ministry of Commerce spokesperson, Gao Feng. (Source: Getty)
Canberra has come into the firing line of China's Ministry of Commerce spokesperson, Gao Feng. (Source: Getty)

A top official from the Chinese government has put the blame on suspended economic discussions squarely on Canberra and demanded Australia “take full responsibility” for damaged ties.

Last Thursday, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission declared it would “indefinitely suspend” economic dialogue between the two nations over what the Commission described as Australia’s “Cold War mindset” and “ideological discrimination”.

In fresh criticism, China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng defended the diplomatic freeze and instead pointed the finger at Australia.

“Recently, the Australian government has unreasonably restricted and suppressed China-Australia economic and trade cooperation projects and the existing achievements,” he said on Thursday.

This has “damaged” mutual trust between the two countries and “seriously affected” business confidence,” he added.

“Relevant Chinese authorities have to make a proper and necessary response, and the Australian side should take full responsibility for this.”

The Morrison Government ignited China’s fury after it tore up Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road agreement, a move that has further inflamed tensions between two countries that have been simmering for months.

The Chinese embassy responded swiftly, saying the move would further damage bilateral relations and Canberra would “only end up hurting itself”.

"This is another unreasonable and provocative move taken by the Australian side against China," a Chinese embassy spokesperson said at the time.

"It further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations.”

On Thursday, Gao echoed these sentiments, adding: “We urge the Australian side to view China-Australia cooperation in an objective and rational way and treat Chinese companies in a fair and impartial way,” Gao added.

A port in Darwin, dubbed by analysts as strategically significant, has also become a recent battleground in the stoush between the two nations.

In 2015, the Northern Territory government struck a deal with a Chinese company to give it full control over the Darwin Port that also serves as a military base for Australian and US armed forces.

But the deal is now under fresh review by the Federal Government, which is scrutinising the deal’s national security implications.

Relations with China, Australia’s largest trading partner, began to sour after Canberra led the call for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

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