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China accuses Australia of 'Cold War mindset,' suspends economic dialogue

China’s economic planning agency said it is to ‘indefinitely’ forgo all activities of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
China’s economic planning agency said it is to ‘indefinitely’ forgo all activities of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- China unilaterally suspended all activities under a bilateral economic agreement with Australia as the two countries grapple with issues related to trade and national security.

The National Development and Reform Commission, Beijing's economic planning agency, said Thursday on its website that it is to "indefinitely" forgo all projects of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, Xinhua reported.

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In its statement, the Chinese commission said the "attitude" of the Australian government, including a "Cold War mindset" influenced the decision to suspend activities, according to the report.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan issued a response Thursday, describing the Chinese decision as "disappointing." Tehan also said Australia remains open to "holding the dialogue and engaging at the ministerial level," according to CNBC.

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Tensions have defined bilateral ties since 2018, when Australia banned Chinese firm Huawei from the nation's 5G network. Last year, China unofficially banned imports, including coal, and launched investigations into Australian wine and lobster imports in 2020.

Australian officials also have canceled agreements with China.

Last month, Canberra scrapped a Belt and Road agreement between China and the state government of Victoria, which was signed in October 2018.

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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the agreement was "inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy," according to CNN.

This week Australia's military began a review of a 99-year port lease to a Chinese company, citing security concerns.

China's foreign ministry defended the commission decision Thursday.

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Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing in Beijing that Canberra "doubled down on restrictions and suppression of China-Australia cooperation projects in trade, culture and people-to-people exchanges."

Australia "falsely cited 'national security,'" Wang claimed.

"We urge the Australian side to cast aside the Cold-War mentality and ideological bias, view China's development and China-Australia cooperation in a truly objective light, return to the rational track without further delay and correct its mistakes," Wang said.

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