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Daniel Andrews defends controversial Belt and Road deal with China

DECEMBER 8, 2020 3:33PM
Victoria has emerged as Australia’s “blind spot” when it comes to the Chinese Communist Party as the state government continues to push ahead with its Belt and Road Initiative agreement with Beijing, according to James Morrow.
Anthony PiovesanNCA NewsWire
Daniel Andrews has defended his controversial decision to sign on to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) despite federal Labor colleagues distancing themselves from the agreement.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien challenged the Victorian Premier to speak to federal Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong who said on Sunday: “We have said we would not sign up to the BRI. We have made clear our position on that. Our position is different from that of the Victorian Labor government.”

Mr O’Brien asked Mr Andrews what information he had that Senator Wong didn’t during a heated question time on Tuesday.

But the Premier said he was in “no position to attest to what information Ssenator Wong does or does not have”.

On a supplementary question, Mr O’Brien then put views from the director of defence strategy and national security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute to Mr Andrews that his stance on China was “naive and dated”.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says Australia’s relationship with China is not in a good place. Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWire Source: News Corp Australia

To which the Premier accused the Opposition Leader of political point scoring.

“There are many different views, opinions on Australia’s relationship with China – one view and opinion and fact indeed … is that this relationship is not in a good place,” Mr Andrews told parliament.

“That is not good for any Victorian worker, any Victorian business or for our state – it’s not good news for any Victorian unless of course your only motivation, not jobs not exports not wealth, not prosperity, but politics.

“If that‘s your only motivation and who may I be referring to … stand up and take a bow.”

Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien challenged the Premier on his stance on China. Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWire Source: News Corp Australia

Tensions between China and Australia have reached a boiling point with the Chinese government publishing a series of offensive tweets in recent weeks.

In the latest inflammatory tweet, Beijing accused Australia of being a front for the US.

The new cartoon published by Chinese state-owned media showed a kangaroo’s shadow on a wall as being portrayed as the US eagle.

Australia last week condemned China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian for posting a doctored image showing an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan boy.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted a “falsified” image of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of a child. Source: Twitter

Beijing has also slapped tariffs on Aussie wine imports.

In May, China threatened to boycott Australian beef, wine and international student markets.

By mid-August it had announced imported wines in two-litre containers or less were subject to anti-dumping investigations for the period of January 1 to December 31, 2019.


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