A general view of the Australian flag is seen outside the Great Hall of the People on April 9, 2013 in Beijing, China.
Feng Li | Getty Images
BEIJING – Tense relations between China and Australia took a turn for the worse on Thursday after Beijing said it had suspended all activities under high-level economic talks indefinitely if it was the largest source of imports.
It was not immediately clear if the announcement would have an impact on trade between the two countries, which had already fallen amid pressure from Beijing.
The Australian dollar fell against the U.S. dollar on news, tumbling near 77.47 cents after trading near 77.47 cents on Wednesday.
Beijing̵7;s economic planning agency, the National Reform and Development Commission, said in an English-language statement on Thursday that some Australian officials had recently released unspecified measures. “Outside the cold war thinking” to hinder cooperation with China.
The Commission said that from such a stance it was decided to “Suspend all activities within the framework of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue” indefinitely.
Australia’s Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said in a statement that the decision was “disappointing” and that the country remained open to “disappointment”. “Organize negotiations and participate at the ministerial level”
The China-Australian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The last meeting under negotiations was in 2017, the first was held in 2015 when the two countries signed a free trade agreement. At the time, China was Australia’s largest trading partner.
Tensions began to escalate in 2018 with Australia’s 5G network ban on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and worsened by calling for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19.
Since then, China has introduced anti-dumping measures on Australian wine imports and an unofficial ban on coal from the country, among other restrictions.China has continued to buy Australian iron ore for a total amount of about 115.10 billion. U.S. dollars on imported goods from Australia in the 12 months to March, according to Reuters.
The Australian government has stepped up scrutiny of the foreign deal and in April canceled two of them related to the Belt and Road Initiative. Critics said the regional infrastructure development program was one channel by which Beijing could expand its influence to. Foreign able
Earlier this week, Reuters reported, citing government sources, that Australia was reviewing port leases to Chinese companies.