Chinese experts have warned that Australia may be taking steps to harm the two countries’ agreement under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework, as Australian media reports said that the Australian federal government is considering tearing up a research agreement between the Victorian government and East China's Jiangsu Province, following the passing of the Foreign Relations Bill in early December.
Australian news outlet The Age cited some anti-China think tanks as saying that the Victoria-Jiangsu Program for Technology and Innovation Research and Development could allow the work of Australian scientists to be used by the Chinese government, which would be contrary to Australia’s national interests.
The deal, signed by the Labor state government in 2015 and renewed in 2019, provides grants of up to $200,000 for Victorian companies and universities to share intellectual property and develop new products with companies from Jiangsu, said the report.
Chinese analysts said that Australian media reports sometimes use “experts” to preach the “China threat theory.”
Zhou Qiuping, deputy director of the center, said she hadn’t heard the news until the Global Times reached her on Monday.
The Global Times found on the official website of the Jiangsu Center for International Technology Transfer that the deal is aimed at driving innovation in technology for Jiangsu and Victorian companies and institutions.
Chen Hong, director of the Australian Studies Center at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Monday that the possible axing of the deal between Jiangsu and Victoria could be the first casualty after Australia passed the Foreign Relations Bill on December 3.
This time Australia targets the deal between its state and China’s province, which is an “alarming signal” that Australia might take further measures to harm China’s interests, Chen noted.
If the move goes ahead, the Australian federal government is likely to undermine the agreement under the BRI framework.
China would take countermeasures against Australia if such moves harm China’s national interests, Chen said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a press conference on December 9 that “BRI cooperation between China and Victoria will greatly enhance the well-being of the people of both sides.”
Instead of deliberately creating obstacles for normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, Australia should do more things that are conducive to mutual trust and mutual benefit, Zhao said.