China has indefinitely suspended all activity under a China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, causing another blow to the already strained relationship between both countries.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in a short statement on Thursday alleged that “some Australian Commonwealth Government officials launched a series of measures to disrupt the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia out of Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination.”

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Also, China Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin said Australia has been “abusing” the concept of national security to pressure cooperation with Beijing. Hence, the suspension comes as a “necessary and legitimate” response.

“Australia must bear full responsibility,” he said.

Bilateral ties got strained in 2018 when Australia became the first country to publicly ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network. Relations worsened last year when Australia called for an independent investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, prompting trade reprisals from China.

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Meanwhile, Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan has condemned the decision, saying it was disappointing. According to him, the economic dialogue was “an important forum for Australia and China to work through issues relevant to our economic partnership”

However, he added that Australia remains “open to holding the dialogue and engaging at the ministerial level.”

The last meeting both countries had was in Beijing in 2017, when Australia’s trade minister signed an agreement on cooperation on Belt and Road projects in third-party countries, which Canberra later cancelled in April.

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