The release of the Victoria-Beijing Memorandum of Understanding on the controversial One Belt One Road initiative has received strong reactions from the Coalition.
- The Memorandum of Understanding refers mainly to "friendship" and cooperation between China and Victoria
- It is not legally binding and may be terminated by either party
- Canberra opposes signing 1B1R and is cautious about China's Pacific activity
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on October 8 and, at the request of Beijing, held a secret by the Andrews government; but with the pressure from the Coalition and the November 24th elections, the document was made public.
One Belt One Road is the plan of Xi Jinping's Chinese president to build a vast network of commercial highways across Europe with high-speed rail in Europe, massive Asia and Pacific shipping ports and free trade agreements with dozens of nations .
But after all the excitement and concern about the One Belt One Road initiative, what is actually in the document, what does Victoria mean and why was Australia reluctant to join the business in the past?
Did Australia sign?
Austria's official position, which was created by Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop, remain opposed being part of the $ 1 billion investment investment investment initiative.
So, wise, Victoria's move to sign the agreement came a little a shock when announced on October 25thbecause – as Prime Minister Scott Morrison pointed out last week – foreign policy is not really a state domain.
At this stage nearly 70 countries have signed up to support the initiative, including our neighbors close to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
Last year, the Federal Labor Party suggested that Australia could join the Belt and Road initiative in a future Labor government, along with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, saying Work keeps an "open mind" in treating Beijijng.
So what exactly did Victoria sign?
In fact, the Memorandum of Understanding is a commitment by Victoria to work with Beijing on future projects to the benefit of both sides.
It is quite devoid of details, but there are many in the MOU about "cooperation" and "promoting the spirit of Silk Road" in Victoria.
The document details that Beijing and the Victorian government will work together "with the aim of promoting the connectivity of policy, infrastructure, business finance and people"and look for ways "Inject a new impulse"into the"beneficial cooperation for joint development".
According to the MOU, the two sides will also consolidating "barter trade" – but since international trade is a federal issue, this does not mean a genuine free trade agreement.
But Victoria is already a strong trading partner for Beijing.
In the last four years Victoria tripled its Chinese investment in Australia and almost doubled the victorian exports to China, according to Mr. Andrews.
Is the Victoria already closed?
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has fired since announcing the Memorandum of Understanding. (Supplied: Embassy of China, Sydney)
Indeed, the MOU is not an official commitment of Victoria for any Chinese-funded project.
The document itself states very clearly: "This Memorandum of Understanding do not create legal relationships or constituting a legally binding agreement between the parties ".
And on Sunday, MJ Andrews did this very clearly.
"The The MOU does not link Victoria to be involved in any specific project or initiative, "the government said in a statement.
"As always, the Government will consider both the Victorian and the national interests before agreeing to be involved in any specific activity."
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the agreement will last for five years but may be terminated by either party with a three-month notice.
Why was Australia reluctant to sign up?
China is an important trading partner for Australia, but the ambitious economic initiative of Mr. Xi raised eyebrows in Canberra.
Representatives of national security have been warned serious "strategic" if Australia signs officially and there is no secret the government is concerned about China's rapid expansion in the Pacific region, on the One One Belt One Road.
While only PNG is officially aboard the Pacific, China puts a cornerstone to adding this with additional investment in the region.
The FTA site displays Fiji as having an "under consideration" business and, according to the Lowy Institute, China has invested more than $ 2.3 billion in the Pacific starting in 2006 in the form of projects, loans and aid.
And even on the Australian shores, there have been examples of One Belt One Road projects that have proven to be unknown to many.
For example, at the beginning of this year, a Queensland theme park, set up by a Chinese developer, emerged as a "key commercial and investment project in the field of culture", which in deeper reading also appeared in connection with the investment plan ambitious Beijing Belt and Road.
But, despite the federal government's strategic and geopolitical concerns, The Andrews government believes that Chinese expansion is an important opportunity for the state.
"This means more trade and more victorious jobs and an even stronger relationship with China," he said, announcing the Memorandum of Understanding on October 25th.
He said his government's focus on delivering large-scale infrastructure projects provides "the design and delivery skills that China is looking for."
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