Victoria joins big China deal
Victoria says it will sign up to China's controversial One Belt, One Road initiative.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye have finalised a memorandum of understanding that makes Victoria the first and only Australian state to support President Xi Jinping's global trade initiative.
China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a massive development strategy involving infrastructure development and investments across Europe, Asia and Africa.
“This new Australian-first agreement sums up everything we have achieved with China over the past four years — it means more trade and more Victorian jobs and an even stronger relationship with China,” Mr Andrews said.
“In four years we have more than tripled Victoria's share of Chinese investment in Australia and nearly doubled our exports to China. We said we'd reboot our relationship with China and we're getting it done.”
China’s plan is to revive an ancient network of land and ocean silk trade routes, updated for the modern era with billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects for roads, railways, ports and maritime corridors.
So far, 68 countries including New Zealand have signed up to the project.
Australia's official stance has been to stay out of the One Belt, One Road investment initiative, with senior national security figures warning of serious “strategic” consequences if Australia formally signs up.
The MOU signed by Victoria marks a sharp turn in the local view of the initiative.
“Over the past five years, it has received positive responses and broad support from the international communities and has become a platform for international cooperation in policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure, unimpeded trade, financing integration, closer people-to-people ties,” Mr Cheng said.
“It enables China to share development opportunities with other countries in the world and achieve mutual prosperity.”