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Analysts think China-Australia’s ties won’t improve soon

The China-Australia relationship deteriorated rapidly over the last few days, and analysts believe that it won’t be getting back on track anytime soon. Beijing’s announced recently that it would suspend high-level economic talks with Canberra indefinitely.

The Canberra and Beijing’s relations are complicated – noted James Laurenceson, director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney. He said that it seems there are no prospects on the horizon for this strained relationship to get back on track, adding that both sides blame each other for the breakdown in dialogue.

Meanwhile, China’s economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, announced on Thursday that it would suspend all activities indefinitely under the framework of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue.

According to the NDRC statement, China took that course of action after some officials in Australia launched unspecified measures out of a Cold War mindset to disrupt cooperation with the country.

Laurenceson noted that China’s decision to stop all activities under the framework is more than just a symbolic move. He also called Beijing’s latest move a “tit-for-tat” retaliation. China is trying to show its displeasure after Australia scrapped two Belt and Road deals last month – said Laurenceson.

How did Australia take China’s action?

In Australia, there is no domestic political pressure currently for the Morrison government to change tack. On the contrary, public support in the country has rallied around him.

On Thursday, Australian Minister for Trade Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said he was disappointed due to the suspension of talks. He noted that the Strategic Economic Dialogue is an important forum for Australia and China to work through issues relevant to the two countries’ economic partnership, adding that they remain open to holding the dialogue, as well as engaging at the ministerial level.

Relations between China and Australia have been strained since the latter blocked Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from its 5G network in 2018.

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