Australia ends Chinese deals on national interest grounds

Australia cancels Victoria state's Belt and Road deals with China

Australia ends Chinese deals on national interest grounds

In a statement, a Chinese Embassy spokesman condemned Australia's BRI move, which is expected to plunge the fractured relationship between the two countries into greater acrimony.

Deploying Australia's powerful new veto powers under legislation passed previous year for the first time, the Federal Government ended the deal, warning it was against Australia's interests.

Another is a 1999 agreement on education signed with Syria, and the last one is a 2004 memorandum of understanding with Iran on job training.

Australia on Wednesday cancelled four bilateral deals with China, Iran and Syria under new laws that give the federal government power to overrule worldwide agreements by lower-level administrations that violate the national interest.

Scott Morrison said previous year about belt and road that it was a program Australia's foreign policy did not recognise "because we don't believe it is consistent with Australia's national interest".

China has slammed Australia's "provocative" decision to tear up Victoria's Belt and Road Initiative agreement with Beijing, warning the move will further damage bilateral relations.

The statement says Payne considers these arrangements to be inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy or adverse to the nation's foreign relations.

China is Australia's biggest trading partner, but Australian leaders have previously shown no hesitation in standing up to Chinese political and economic influence.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews blindsided the Federal Government when he first signed the Belt and Road deal with the Chinese government in 2018.

The law may still allow the federal government to review and overturn memorandums of understanding between Beijing and the state governments of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania in sectors ranging from investment, science cooperation and access to the Antarctic.

Analysts have warned that Chinese lending for Belt and Road projects could entice developing nations, including Australia's Pacific neighbors, into unsustainable debt, thereby making them vulnerable.

A spokesperson for the Victorian government said the law was "entirely a matter for the Commonwealth government".

The decision made late on Wednesday night threatens to inflame already fraught diplomatic tensions between Canberra and Beijing.

The Morrison government in December granted itself the ability to torpedo deals between individual states and foreign powers under the Foreign Relations Act.

In 2018, Canberra staged an global first by banning the Chinese tech giant Huawei from Australia's 5G network.

Senator Payne said local governments and publicly funded universities had notified her of more than 1,000 foreign deals.

"I will continue to consider foreign arrangements", Payne said.