China has lashed Australia in the wake of the communist nation's provocative decision to scrap an economic dialogue agreement between the two countries.
In a move that epitomised the current state of Sino-Australian relations, Beijing on Thursday pulled the plug on the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue framework.
“Recently, 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,” the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission said.
And as Australia expressed its disappointment over the move, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin explained Canberra only had itself to blame.
"For some time, the Australian side, in disregard of China's solemn position and repeated representations, doubled down on restriction and suppression of China-Australia cooperation projects in trade, culture and people-to-people exchanges by falsely citing 'national security' reasons," he told reporters.
"China has no other choice but to make necessary and legitimate responses. The Australian side must take all responsibility for this."
The move comes amid a long-running feud and will undoubtedly make already strained diplomatic relations even harder to repair.
Australia calls for clear-the-air talks with China
Newly-appointed Trade Minister Dan Tehan said he was seeking relationship-saving discussions, something his predecessor, Simon Birmingham, failed to do.
"We want to have a dialogue with China, we want to be able to work through our differences... We have a very important economic relationship" Mr Tehan told the Seven Network on Friday.
Beijing's move freezes discussions between key Chinese and Australian officials below a ministerial level.
But its decision is largely symbolic given Beijing was already refusing high-level meetings, and discussions under the dialogue had not taken place in several years.
China has launched a series of strikes against Australian commodities over the past year in response to an assortment of grievances.
But Beijing continues to buy vast quantities of Australian iron ore at record prices, minimising the economic impact.
The decision to cut dialogue comes after the Morrison government cancelled Victoria's Belt and Road agreement with China.
At the time, the Chinese deputy ambassador warned Australia could not simply milk the relationship and then discard it.
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