The Chinese regime has “indefinitely” suspended all future activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, following last month’s termination of the Belt and Road Initiative agreement by Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
While the move has been publicised by several Chinese state-owned media, one expert has called the action mere “symbolism.”
On Thursday, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued the statement claiming that “Recently, some Australian Commonwealth government officials launched a series of measures to disrupt the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia out of a Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination.”
“Based on the current attitude of the Australian Commonwealth government toward China-Australia cooperation, the NDRC of the People’s Republic of China has decided to indefinitely suspend all activities under the framework of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue.”
The Dialogue was established in 2013 under the former Gillard government by Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Trade Minister Craig Emerson.
Further, dialogue between Australian ministers and their Chinese counterparts has been largely non-existent over the past year, as Beijing’s trade war against Australia ran its course.
Meanwhile, the NDRC has also been a key driver behind the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In 2018 and 2019, the state body signed two BRI agreements with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
In response to the cancellation, the Chinese Embassy in Canberra said the move was “unreasonable and provocative.”
While Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin urged Australia to “revoke” the decision or Beijing would “resolutely take strong actions.”
Suspension of the Dialogue marks the first major material response to the BRI being axed.
Jeffrey Wilson, research director of the Perth USAsia Centre, said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had “run out of ammunition.”
“China has placed sanctions against practically all Australian exports it can, investment has collapsed, and intergovernmental discussions are non-existent,” he added. “It now has no substantive leverage over Australia and has to resort to largely meaningless acts of symbolism.”
The economic coercion campaign began after Australia led the charge in calling for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.