Australia severs regional ‘Belt & Road’ deals with China, FM Payne says deals with Beijing inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy
UPDATED 5:45 PM PT – Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Australia has ceased all economic partnerships with Mainland China under its Belt and Road Initiative due to risks of political pressure by Beijing.
“If China comes knocking and says: ‘Hey, by the way, there’s all this money here you can use for infrastructure. Oh, no problem, don’t worry about it,’” Caleb Bond, political analyst for ‘The Advertiser – Australia,’ stated. “Pull the other one. They’re not doing this out of goodwill.”
The decision by Australia’s central government came in response to the state of Victoria joining Belt and Road several years ago. The deals were inked by Victorian officials back in 2004 and 2018, but Foreign Minister Marise Payne said those accords are now inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy and are void.
“China has been going around basically buying different islands,” Bond added. “They offer loads of money to islands in the South Pacific. They take the money, they spend it on whatever it is they want to build. They then default. They can’t pay the money back, China sweeps in and takes the island. It’s as simple as that or they call them in for favors, whatever is beneficial at the time. And it would be no different with Victoria.”
Foreign Minister Payne also said Australia holds China responsible for the spread of COVID-19 and is continuing the probe into the origins of the virus.