Australia on April 21, 2021 announced that it will revoke a state government’s deal to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The nation stated that it was inconsistent with its foreign policy.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne shared the information saying that the federal government will override the Victorian state government’s decision to sign up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
•Australia had introduced new laws last year that allowed it to cancel any agreements between state authorities and foreign countries deemed to threaten the national interest. These laws were widely seen as targeting China.
•Under the new powers, the federal authorities will cancel four documents including a memorandum of understanding and framework agreement, signed in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
•The Australian Foreign Minister stated that these four documents have been found to be inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy or adverse to their foreign relations.
The announcement comes at a time when relations have been deteriorating between Australia and China with both the governments competing for influence in the Pacific. The latest move is likely to further blow up tensions between the two countries.
Australia has already called for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which had first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The nation has also banned Chinese telecom giant Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network. It is also tightening foreign investment laws for corporations.
Australia revokes two more agreements signed with Iran, Syria
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced that she will also an MoU signed between Victoria’s education department and Iran in 2004 and a scientific cooperation agreement the department signed with Syria in 1999.
Under Australia’s constitution, the federal government is primarily responsible for foreign affairs and defence and states are responsible for health and education but in real terms the responsibilities overlap sometimes.
Australia’s new legislations that give Federal government power to override agreements signed by state authorities only apply to publicly-funded institutions and not to commercial deals.