U.S. stands with Australia over axed China deal

Speaking to reporters during a daily briefing, the State Department spokesman Ned Price said that while Australia makes its own decisions, the U.S. will continue standing in solidarity with its ally over China's "coercive diplomacy".

The Chinese embassy in Australia earlier criticized the move by Foreign Minister Marise Payne to veto two agreements signed by Victoria state as "provocative" and said it would further damage ties.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Thursday the accords were cancelled because his federal government didn't want other levels of government to enter into agreements that conflict with Australia's foreign policy.

Under a new process, states must consult with the foreign minister before signing agreements with other nations.

Payne earlier told local radio the policy was "not aimed at any one country", but Wang Wenbin, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, expressed doubt over that claim during a regular news conference in Beijing.

The spokesman warned Australia against travelling "further down the wrong path to avoid making the already strained China-Australia relations worse." China is the largest trading partner of New Zealand and Australia.

Video Transcript

NED PRICE: We continue to stand with the people of Australia as they bear the brunt of the PRC's coercive behavior. I believe it was foreign minister Payne who made clear in her statement that the Australian government has determined that the agreements you refer to to be inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy or adverse to Australia's Foreign Relations.

We know that allies around the world, we know that partners around the world are going to have relationships with Beijing that may look slightly different than the relationship that we have. That's OK. As Secretary Blinken said recently, we're not going to put our allies or our partners in a position to choose between the United States and Beijing.