Australia will not “surrender” to threats of retaliation from China after Victoria’s Belt and Road deal was ripped up.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton issued the warning on Friday before pointing the finger at Premier Daniel Andrews for entering into an agreement that flew in the face of national interest.
“Dan Andrews did the wrong thing,” Mr Dutton told Today.
“We are not going to surrender our sovereignty.
“China and others need to understand that Australia is not going to be bullied.”
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Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne on Wednesday night announced that two Belt and Road agreements would be axed under new laws because they were not in the national interest.
Chinese officials lashed the move as “unreasonable and provocative”, while Chinese state-owned media said Australia would face “serious consequences” and a potential trade conflict.
Mr Dutton said Australia’s relationship with its largest trade partner was important, but it was standing up for its beliefs.
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He said China’s behaviour in the region, including militarisation of bases and cyber attacks, was a “real problem”.
“All of that is not the action of a friend,” Mr Dutton said.
“I want to make sure people hear the message clearly; we are standing up for who we are.
“We are not going to be compromised by the principles of the Communist Party of China.”
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the relationship with China was difficult, as Australia had become more dependant on trading with China under the Coalition’s leadership.
“This is something that needs to be properly managed,” Mr Marles said.