Beijing’s 99-year lease of Darwin Harbor poses no security risk: Australian Defense Ministry

A review by the Australian Ministry of Defense advised the federal government to overturn the 99-year lease of Darwin Harbor to the Chinese company Landbridge because of lack of national security grounds.

The review, initiated by Defense Minister Peter Dutton, reiterated whether China-owned ports pose “unacceptable national security risks” amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Canberra. He was tasked with investigating whether nationalization should be considered.

The commissar of state security, which reportedly commissioned the review, has not received a formal recommendation from the Ministry of Defense for government intervention. Australian person Wednesday newspaper.

The Pentagon has not yet responded to inquiries from the Epoch Times.

Revelation could plan to make leasing Darwin Harbor more politically difficult in 2015.

During a visit to Darwin in April this year, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the A $ 506 million port transaction was the sole responsibility of the former Northern Territory government, as it took place without federal oversight.

“If there is advice from the Defense Ministry or security agencies that would change the way we look at the impact of critical infrastructure on national security,” he said, he said he would respond as needed.

Brendan O’Connor, a labor defense spokesperson on Wednesday, warned the Prime Minister against opposition to the Ministry of Defense’s advice.

“Darwin Harbor is an important strategic asset for Australia. Australians know that this foreign privatization agreement should not happen on Mr. Morrison’s watch. That’s common sense,” O’Connor said.

“If the government acts unilaterally beyond defense advice and intervenes in the Darwin Harbor contract, the associated costs and fallout are on the Prime Minister’s lap.”

Meanwhile, Professor Clive Hamilton of Charles Sturt University Called The results of the Reese review were “naive” and “very mysterious,” he said, paving the way for Beijing to spy on Darwin’s defense assets.

“I don’t know what if Darwin Harbor isn’t a significant infrastructure,” he told News Corp, saying the government still has the authority to abolish the lease.

Labor member Luke Gosling has previously called on the government to avoid a “blatant dual standard” that requires the Victorian Government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement to treat Darwin Harbor transactions in the same way. I did. Morrison Government — Quoting a contradiction with Australia’s national interests.

“Officially, the sale of Darwin Harbor was not badged as a BRI project, but it was definitely part of it from Beijing’s point of view, even if not from our point of view.” Gosling writes: Commentary from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute September 15, 2020.

In response to concerns about port leases and foreign intervention, the government amends the 2018 Key Infrastructure Act to give treasury the authority to revoke infrastructure contracts that could pose a national security threat to the country. Gave to

However, the law excludes “commercial-operated businesses” that allow groups like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to take over Chinese private companies such as Landbridge to acquire significant assets instead. Gosling added that he was making a loophole. ..

“Private companies that own important infrastructure abroad are still responsible for Beijing,” he said.

Landbridge refutes concerns about security risks associated with port ownership and warns that Australia may be focusing on the company. Interfere with Landbridge plans Invest $ 155 million in ports over the next 20 years.

Warwick Smith, a businessman and former Howard-era government minister, told Australians that the port agreement was “a pretty good return for what was basically a low-level port area.” Australian officials have called this a “high priority issue.”

However, experts Discuss it Had the federal government recognized the importance of the port, the gateway to Asia, China’s investment would not have had the opportunity to step into the investment gap.

Nina Nguyen


Nina Nguyen is a Sydney-based Vietnamese reporter with a focus on Australian news. Contact her at [email protected]