Context:

Australia said that it cancelled two accords between Victoria State and China on the Belt and Road Initiative because they were out of line with the federal government’s foreign policy, which sees a “free and open Indo-Pacific” as a key goal.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India and its Neighborhood, International Treaties & Agreements affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Recent tussle between China and Australia
  2. Recently in news: Australia suspended extradition treaty with Hong Kong
  3. 5G Club plan to counter China

Recent tussle between China and Australia

  • The Australian government said that the accords were cancelled because his federal government didn’t want other levels of government to enter into agreements that are in conflict with Australia’s foreign policy. Under a new process, States must consult with the Foreign Minister before signing agreements with other nations.
  • A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman responded by urging Australia to abandon its “Cold War mentality and ideological bias” and “immediately correct its mistakes and change course”.
  • The Chinese Embassy earlier criticised the move by Foreign Minister Marise Payne to veto two agreements signed by Victoria State as “provocative”, and said it would further damage ties.

Recently in news: Australia suspended extradition treaty with Hong Kong

  • Australia suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extended visas for Hong Kong residents in response to China’s imposition of a tough national security law on the semi-autonomous territory.
  • Australia announced a range of visas that will be extended from two to five years and offers of pathways to permanent residency visas, although, it is not clear how many Hong Kongers are expected to get the extensions.
  • The move comes after China bypassed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to impose the sweeping security legislation without public consultation.
  • Critics view it as a further deterioration of freedoms promised to the former British colony.

5G Club plan to counter China

  • India and Australia are sharing experiences on protecting critical infrastructure, including 5G networks, said a senior Australian High Commission official while talking of the huge increase in cybersecurity cooperation between the two countries, however, clarifying that Australia has no intention of banning Chinese apps like India has done.
  • India and Australia have a close and ongoing dialogue and exchange a range of experiences, including what is being done regarding critical infrastructure and aspects, including our 5G network, and how to police the dark web.
  • In August 2018, Australia had banned Chinese companies from offering 5G services, citing national security.
  • India banned 59 Chinese apps citing national security and later banned 47 more Chinese apps.
  • Britain said that it was pushing the U.S. to form a club of 10 nations that could develop its own 5G technology and reduce dependence on Huawei.
  • Proposed D10 club of democratic partners includes G7 countries – UK, US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada – plus Australia, South Korea and India.
  • It will aim to create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China.
  • It can be seen as a means to ensure that these new entrants belong to like-minded democratic regimes, thus alleviating any security concerns.
  • This move will also allow more 5G equipment and technology providers to come up.
  • It basically addresses the raised concerns regarding potential surveillance and breach of their national security by China using the state-run Huawei.

-Source: The Hindu

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