China Suspends Economic Dialogue with Australia



Joe McDonald and Rod McGuirk | AP

BEIJING (AP) — China on Thursday suspended an economic dialogue with Australia, stepping up a pressure campaign that began over Australian support for a probe of the coronavirus and has disrupted exports to the country’s biggest foreign market.

Relations have plunged to a multi-decade low since Beijing blocked imports of Australian coal, wheat and other goods over the past year. But it has failed to force Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government to offer concessions.

The suspension follows Australia’s decision last month, citing “national interest,” to cancel two deals signed by the state of Victoria with China’s multibillion-dollar “Belt and Road” construction initiative. Beijing warned then it might respond.

The step “signals a deterioration” in official ties but is largely symbolic, said Caitlin Byrne, a specialist on Australia’s diplomatic relations in the Asia-Pacific region. She said officials haven’t met under the dialogue since 2017.

“It’s certainly an important and symbolic move, but in terms of substance, the impact here is limited,” said Byrne, director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Australia’s Griffith University.

Beijing will “indefinitely suspend all activities” under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, said a statement by the Cabinet’s planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.

To read the full article by Associated Press, please click here