May 06, 2021 09:23 UTC
  • China suspends economic dialogue with Australia as relations curdle

China's government has announced it is "indefinitely" suspending all activities under a China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue.

According to Press TV, the announcement on Thursday marks the first formal freeze of a diplomatic mechanism since relations between the two countries soured.

According to analysts, the move by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's main planning body, is likely retaliation for Australia’s recent announcement that it was tearing up two agreements between Beijing and Victoria.

The commission issued a statement accusing Australia of unfairly targeting China.

"Recently, some Australian Commonwealth Government officials launched a series of measures to disrupt the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia out of Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination," the NDRC said.

Following the announcement, the Australian dollar fell dramatically, and was as low as 0.7701 to the US dollar from Wednesday's $0.7747.

Bilateral relations between Beijing and Canberra soured in 2018 when Australia became the first country to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network.

Ties further strained last year when Australia called for an independent probe into the origins of the novel coronavirus, prompting trade reprisals from China.

The last China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue was held in 2017, when then-trade minister Steve Ciobo travelled to Beijing for talks and signed an agreement on cooperation on Belt and Road projects in third-party countries.

Australia has, however, declined to sign agreements on direct participation in China's flagship foreign policy initiative.

In April, Canberra cancelled two Belt and Road cooperation deals, prompting the Chinese embassy to warn that relations would worsen.