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China says relations with Australia are in “sharp decline” – and it’s all Canberra’s fault

Relations between Australia and China have been frozen for years, but the situation is deteriorating rapidly after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in April.
In September, the last two reporters from Australian news organizations in China had to be evacuated after being aggressively questioned by authorities in a national security case involving Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist working for Chinese state media.

The RCEP, signed on Sunday, is a huge trade agreement that brings together 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including China and Australia, in a massive free trade deal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang attended a press conference in Beijing on August 28th.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang made it clear that no truce was seen during his daily press conference in Beijing on Tuesday. Zhao said the Chinese government was not to blame for the breakdown in relations.

“(Subsequently) they took a series of wrong moves related to China, which is at the heart of Sino-Australian relations, which are rapidly declining and stuck in the current difficult situation … the responsibility for causing this situation is not a lie at all with China.” , he said.

Zhao described three areas in which Australia was dissatisfied with the Chinese government – one of which was Morrison’s decision to request an international investigation. “(This) has seriously hampered international co-operation in preventing and controlling the pandemic,” he added.

The spokesman condemned Australia for its attempts to take action against alleged foreign interference in its domestic policy, a campaign that targets Beijing against China.

Zhao also rebuked Australia for repeatedly commenting on human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, as well as the Chinese military’s threatening behavior toward the self-governing island of Taiwan. “These practices have grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs and seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” Zhao said.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday, Birmingham said Canberra wanted a “mutually beneficial relationship” with China – which he said had “strengthened from time to time”.

“This does not mean that we will compromise at all on our values, our security, our interests, but it does mean that the door is open from an Australian perspective,” he said.

“We reached every possible level and path.”

Zhao’s comments came after Australia and Japan agreed “in principle” on a major defense treaty between the two countries during a meeting in Tokyo between Prime Minister Morrison and Japanese leader Yoshihide Suga.

Birmingham said Wednesday that the deal should have nothing to do with Australia’s relations with China. However, this is the latest in a series of moves by Australia and Japan to deepen military ties, with the Chinese government doubling its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas and increasing military exercises targeting Taiwan.

According to a statement from Morrison’s office, the Mutual Access Agreement (RAA) “will facilitate greater and more complex practical cooperation between the Australian Defense Forces and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces” and “will also support our joint participation in broader multilateral exercises.” “

In his first meeting with Suga Morrison, he thanked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s predecessor for six years of negotiating the agreement.

CNN’s Sophie Jeong contributed to this article.

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