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Chinese FM Spokesperson's Remarks on Australia's Cancellation of BRI Cooperation Agreements Between the Government of Victoria and the Chinese Side

2021-04-22

At a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on April 22, Spokesperson Wang Wenbin answered a few questions about Australia’s cancellation of BRI cooperation agreements between the government of Victoria and the Chinese side.

Journalist: Australia has canceled deals struck by the State of Victoria with China on cooperation on the Belt and Road project. What's the ministry's comment?

Wang Wenbin: We took note of the relevant information. I want to stress that the BRI, an initiative for international economic cooperation, always follows the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and upholds the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. The Victoria State's decision to cooperate with China under the BRI framework to improve the wellbeing of both peoples is a good thing that could have brought benefits to both sides. The Australian federal government vetoed the BRI cooperation agreements between the government of Victoria and China for no good reason, wantonly disrupting normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries and gravely undermining the bilateral relations and mutual trust. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition and has already lodged solemn representation with the Australian side. China reserves the right to make further reactions over this matter.

We urge Australia to set aside cold war mentality and ideological bias, view the bilateral cooperation in a objective and rational light, immediately redress mistakes and change course, refrain from going down the wrong path further, and avoid making the already seriously difficult China-Australia relations worse.

Journalist: The Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the reason for canceling the BRI cooperation agreements is that they are inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy, rather than targeting any specific country. The relevant decision is meant to ensure that local governments acts in a way that is consistent with Australia's national interests and foreign policy and conforms to Australia's laws and national interests. Do you have any comment? What's your perspective on China-Australia relations looking ahead?

Wang Wenbin: I'd like to point out some facts. Australia reviewed over 1,000 agreements and decided to cancel four, among which two agreements are signed with China. The claim that this decision is not aimed at any country does not hold water. Australia did a lot to disrupt normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries and poison the mutual trust and popular atmosphere under the ambiguous and baseless pretexts of "inconsistency with Australia's foreign policy" and "inconsistency with Australia's national security". I want to point out that Australia's political manipulation and unreasonable behavior contravene the spirit of the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership. This back-paddling is vile in nature. It has created severe negative impact on the confidence for cooperation of localities and companies, and undermined Australia's reputation and credibility.

China always holds that a sound and stable relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples. Australia says it hopes to cooperate with China and strengthen high-level dialogue. However, what it did is quite the opposite. The Australian side undermined the bilateral relations time and again. What it did this time is another testimony that Australia lacks the basic sincerity for improving the ties. We urge Australia one more time to revoke the wrong decision and change course immediately, stop irresponsible moves, and avoid imposing groundless restrictions on normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries. Otherwise, China will resolutely take strong reactions.

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