China's foreign ministry has said Australia's decision to cancel two major Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deals in the state of Victoria would cause "serious harm" to bilateral relations, global media reports revealed on Thursday.
The Australian government has said it cancelled the agreements over allegations the project was not aligned with the Canberra's national interests.
"We will always act in Australia's national interest to protect Australia, but to also ensure we can advance our national interest in a free and open Indo Pacific and a world that seeks a balance in favour of freedom," Australian prime minster Scott Morrison said in a statement on Thursday.
Australian states will have to consult the foreign ministers prior to inking deals with other countries and that the policy was "not aimed at any one country", Payne told local radio as quoted by Reuters.
"We also have to acknowledge that China's outlook, the nature of China's external engagement, both in our region and globally, has changed in recent years, and an enduring partnership requires us to adapt to those new realities," Payne added.
China is currently the largest trading partner to Australia and New Zealand, reports show.
Further spats between Australia and China come amid Western accusations Beijing had committed genocide against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
The accusations had surfaced in a UN report in 2018, leading Canadian, US and Australian MPs, among others, to seek to relocate the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to a new location, sparking sharp criticisms from the Chinese government.