Australia has decided to cancel two infrastructure agreements that have been formed between the state of Victoria and China in 2018 and 2019, government officials announced late Wednesday.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the two multi-billion dollar agreements between Victoria and China on the Belt and Road Initiative were vetoed under a law that enables the government to override deals that would breach and jeopardize the national interest of Australia.
According to Payne, the memorandums of understanding and framework agreement were scrapped by the federal government of Australia because they were “inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy or adverse to our foreign relations.”
“This scheme is very focused on Australia’s national interest. It’s about ensuring consistency of our foreign relations across Australia and it’s most certainly not aimed at any one country,” she said in a press release.
China’s embassy then swiftly denounced the Australian government’s decision. It also warned that the move could cause a further rift in the bilateral relationships of the two countries.
“This is another unreasonable and provocative move taken by the Australian side against China,” a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy said in a statement.
“It 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 Belt and Road Initiative was originally aimed to strengthen the trading of many countries around the world by creating ports, railways, as well as other facilities.