Cracks appear in China’s New Silk Road

DM

Australia has canceled infrastructure projects that were meant to boost trade with Beijing. The move is a loss of face for Chinese President Xi Jinping — and could prompt other countries to back away from similar deals. The Australian government may have only halted a couple of small joint-infrastructure projects with China, but the response from Beijing to the decision was one of rage and threats. The Chinese Embassy in Canberra has called the halt “unreasonable and provocative” and vowed revenge. Canberra stepped in last year to pass a law that allows the federal government to overrule agreements made by Australian states with foreign countries. The decision followed deals signed by the state of Victoria in 2018 and 2019 to cooperate with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — often dubbed the New Silk Road — a massive infrastructure plan that aims to smooth trade links with dozens of countries. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the deals were incompatible with Australia’s foreign policy and were not legally binding. The cancellation could also mean an end to further Sino-Australian cooperation in the fields of industrial production, biotechnology and agriculture.

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