Thu, 13 May 2021

Canberra [Australia], April 22 (ANI): China has dubbed Australia's decision to scrap the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement with Beijing as "unreasonable and provocative", warning that this would further "damage to bilateral relations".

The rebuke comes hours after the Australian government announced the cancellation of the BRI agreement with China, saying it goes against its national interest, Australian ABC News reported.

This is the first time the commonwealth has used new power that allows it to cancel agreements that state and territory government, local councils, public universities, ink with other countries.

In an official order issued on Wednesday, the Scott Morrison government scrapped the agreement signed between the state government of Victoria and the National Development and Reform Commission of China, which was signed on October 8, 2018. It also cancelled a framework agreement signed between the two sides on October 23, 2019.

In response to the news, the Chinese embassy in Australia said: "It further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations," the embassy said.

"It is bound to bring further damage to bilateral relations, and will only end up hurting itself," it added.

Initiated in 2013, the BRI is Xi Jinping's grand plan to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime trade networks to create new routes for China.

The Sydney Morning report said that the Morrison government and national security experts were concerned that China was using the agreement with Victoria as a propaganda win to claim the that state government had broken ranks with Australia's China policy.

Moreover, they are also worried that China was using the BRI to load up poorer countries with debt and reduce Australia's influence in the region.

Sino-Australian relations have been in a downward spiral since April last year when Canberra infuriated Beijing by proposing an independent international inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. (ANI)

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