China “indefinitely” suspended on Thursday all activity under a China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, its state economic planner said, the latest setback for strained relations between the two countries.
“Recently, some Australian Commonwealth Government officials launched a series of measures to disrupt the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia out of Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination,” China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a short statement on the decision.
The commission did not say in the statement what specific measures prompted the action.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, told a daily conference the suspension was a “necessary and legitimate” response to Australia “abusing” the concept of national security to pressure cooperation with China.
“Australia must bear full responsibility,” he said.
The Australian dollar fell sharply on the news and was as low as 0.7701 to the U.S. dollar from Wednesday’s $0.7747.
Bilateral ties were strained in 2018 when Australia became the first country to publicly ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network. Relations worsened last year when Australia called for an independent investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, prompting trade reprisals from China.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said the commission’s decision was disappointing because the economic dialogue was “an important forum for Australia and China to work through issues relevant to our economic partnership”.
“We remain open to holding the dialogue and engaging at the ministerial level,” he said in a statement.