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April 22, 2021

Australia Sparks China's Anger

 Australia has rescinded the Belt and Road agreement signed by the Victorian and Chinese governments, further escalating trade and diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Canberra.

Victoria, Australia’s second largest and richest state, signed a memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the Chinese government in October 2018, making it the only government in Australia to sign up for President Xi Jinping’s special global infrastructure initiative.

As part of President Xi’s vision for China’s future economic growth, BRI aims to build new trade corridors between Europe and Asia.

While other countries joining the BRI have received massive funding from Beijing, the deal between China and Victoria appears to be more aimed at encouraging future investment and trade.

In a statement on Wednesday night, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government had evaluated more than 1,000 agreements between Australian states and territories with foreign countries.

In all, four agreements were rescinded, two with China, and one with Iran, and Syria, all signed by the Victorian government. The cancellation was made because it was considered inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.

Australia and China have been in the midst of a worsening diplomatic crisis since Canberra’s call to conduct an investigation into China over the origins of Covid-19 in April 2020.