International Australia moves to rein in states’ deals with China

Australia moves to rein in states’ deals with China




- Advertisement -

Australia’s government can veto agreements that state authorities and universities ink with foreign countries under new legislation passed Tuesday, taking square aim at controversial deals with Beijing.

The new federal powers to scupper existing and future deals “where they adversely affect” the national interest comes as China and Australia are at loggerheads over trade and competing claims of influence in the Pacific.

“This legislation is necessary to appropriately manage and protect Australia’s foreign relations and the consistency of our nation’s foreign policy,” said foreign minister Marise Payne.

Under Australia’s constitution, the federal government is responsible for foreign affairs and defence. States typically deliver services such as health and education but in reality there is frequent overlap.

- Advertisement -

Future deals will now need government approval — in some cases before negotiations can even begin — and existing agreements can be declared invalid or terminated.

The new rules call into question Victoria state’s support for China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” — a vast network of projects that offers Beijing sizeable geopolitical and financial leverage.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been highly critical of a Victoria-China memorandum of understanding, and local media have quoted government officials as saying the deal is now “probably toast”.

Also in doubt is the presence of Chinese-government-backed Confucius Institutes at Australia’s public universities which critics say promotes the Communist Party’s self-serving version of Chinese culture and history.

The laws do not cover commercial deals and do not specifically name any single country.

But there is widespread unease in Australia at China’s growing influence and Canberra has banned state-linked telecoms giant Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network.

It has also tightened foreign investment laws for corporations and created a register of foreign-paid lobbyists, with the attorney general writing to universities and Confucius Institutes on the issue.

Tensions spiked in April when Australia infuriated China by calling for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

© Agence France-Presse

Send in your scoop to 

Please follow and like us:
- Advertisement -

Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin’s photos used to catfish Tinder users

Singapore — Speaker of the Parliament Tan Chuan Jin posted on social media on Friday (Jan 21) about his photos being used as catfishing material. Mr Tan shared on his Instagram and Facebook pages that his images have been used on the...

8 unique travel trends to watch out for in 2021

Singapore - After the pandemic put most of global travel on hold, the tourism industry is going through some serious revamping. Despite having to contend with strict restrictions and spending a lot of time cooped up at home, people are still...

PV’s Lim Tean: People do want to know what’s happening in Parliament

Singapore — Opposition Peoples Voice (PV) secretary-general Lim Tean took to Facebook on Thursday (Jan 21) to discuss the live-stream of parliamentary sessions early this month. ***You Can Do Your Part to Create a Fair and Equal Singapore.*** Equality is a Founding Principle...

Send in your scoop to 

Please follow and like us: