China indefinitely halts economic dialogue mechanism with Australia

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Earlier on Thursday, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission announced that Beijing had chose to indefinitely suspend the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue over what it describes as a disruption of normal exchanges and cooperation.

Relations have been on the decline since Australia called for a probe into the origins of the virus and banned Huawei from building its 5G network.

Relations have plunged to a multi-decade low since Beijing blocked imports of Australian coal, wheat and other goods over the past year.

China said on Thursday it had suspended an economic agreement with Australia.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during an address at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Melbourne on May 6, 2021.

"It's certainly an important and symbolic move, but in terms of substance, the impact here is limited", said Byrne, director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Australia's Griffith University.

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The China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue deal has been pulled "based on the current attitude" of the Australian government, China's National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement, blaming some officials of "ideological discrimination".

In a statement on Thursday, a Chinese government commission accused Australia of having a "Cold War mindset".

China holds such dialogues with Australia, the United States and some other governments to discuss trade disputes and other economic issues. "We're a long way here from withdrawing from something like ChAFTA (the China-Australia free trade agreement )", he said. "It's got to be on both countries' terms".

Relations between China and Australia deteriorated past year after Canberra called for an worldwide inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting trade reprisals from Beijing.

Successive Australian trade ministers have been unable to secure a phone call with Chinese counterparts since diplomatic tensions worsened in 2020.

He characterised the move as "retaliation" for the federal government cancelling a deal between the Victorian state government and China last month, but noted the pointed language was a noticeable shift in China's diplomatic brinkmanship.

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