Prime Minister Scott Morrison has scrapped Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal with China, calling it “inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy”.
The decision made late on Wednesday night threatens to inflame already fraught diplomatic tensions between Canberra and Beijing.
Deploying Australia’s powerful new veto powers under legislation passed last year for the first time, the Federal Government ended the deal, warning it was against Australia’s interests.
“I consider these four arrangements to be inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations in line with the relevant test in Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020,’’ Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.
“I will continue to consider foreign arrangements notified under the Scheme. I expect the overwhelming majority of them to remain unaffected. I look forward to ongoing collaboration with states, territories, universities and local governments in implementing the Foreign Arrangements Scheme.”
China quickly hit back at Australia over what it called an “unreasonable and provocative move”.
In a statement, a Chinese Embassy spokesman slammed the decision which is expected to plunge the fractured relationship into greater acrimony.
“We express our strong displeasure and resolute opposition to the Australian Foreign Minister’s announcement on April 21 to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation within the Framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and the related Framework Agreement between the Chinese side and Government of Victoria,” the spokesman said. – News Ltd