Darwin Harbor Leases to Chinese Enterprises “Immeasurable”: Senator Abets

Liberal Senator Eric Abets said Darwin Harbor’s 99-year lease to a company with strong ties to Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a “significant mistake that must be corrected.”

This happened in a tense relationship between Canberra and Beijing, which declined sharply after Australia called for an investigation into the origin of COVID-19 and took steps to protect national interests, including a review of port leases. I will.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at a press conference following the National Ministerial Meeting held at the Parliament Building in Canberra, Australia on April 22, 2021. (AAPImage / Lukas Coch)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke with Seven Network on May 4 and reiterated his position from last week that the federal government could take action at Darwin Harbor, with the advice of the Defense Ministry. Limited.

“I haven’t jumped to the next step,” Morrison said. “This is an issue where our security and defense agencies advise if the security status of these port agreements has changed.”

2 days ago, Sydney Morning Herald Reported on May 2 Defense Minister Peter Dutton confirmed that the Cabinet’s National Security Commission would “return for advice” to his department, saying “the work is already underway.”

Australian Senator Eric Abets
Senator Eric Abets in Melbourne, Australia, September 10, 2014. (Grahamdenholm / Getty Images)

As chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Defense and Trade Commission, Mr. Abets said the review was crucial and postponed.

He wonders how the Ministry of Defense and its predecessor Dennis Richardson allowed Darwin Harbor to be leased to Landbridge Industry Australia, a subsidiary of the Chinese company Chandon Landbridge Group. I did.

“It’s immeasurable why the port was leased to a company named by the Chinese government in 2013 as one of the top 10 individuals who care about the development of defense by millionaire owners, and the company later. We have found that we have broad ties to the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army, “Abets said.

“The Chinese Communist Party will never allow foreign countries to interfere with’domestic affairs’ to purchase infrastructure that is of great military, economic and strategic importance to the country, but DFAT is puzzling that this is in the country’s interests. I thought about it. “

According to Australia’s major strategic policy think tank, Beijing is trying to project power across the ocean, including trying to manage the port through state-owned enterprises.

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Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning is participating in military training with the PLA Navy in the Western Pacific on April 18, 2018. (Reuters)

A report titled “Jumping Over the Sea” by Charlie Lions Jones (pdf), The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has identified three Australian ports in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney as potential parts of this strategy.

Jones warned the federal government that Beijing saw these locations as “strategic strengths” and that China could use civilian control to establish economic interests and military control in the Indo-Pacific region.

“From the Greek port of Piraeus, which was sold to the Greek state-owned company COSCO with a 51% stake, the port of Hambanthota Harbor in Sri Lanka was transferred to the Chinese government for 99 years with 15,000 acres of surrounding land. Backed by a military base, the port of Dorare in Greece has a consistent record of purchasing ports in critical shipping areas and leveraging their economic influence to derive military and strategic benefits. ” Said Abets.

The move to revisit Darwin Harbor is after the federal government has intervened to cancel the two Belt and Road Initiatives in a Victorian statement made by the government with Beijing. Foreign Minister Marise Payne exercised the power to terminate them under diplomatic law as these transactions were found to be inconsistent with Australia’s national interests.

Experts and politicians around the world are labeling Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative as a way for the Chinese Communist Party to expand its influence globally.

“Australia faces an unprecedented level of foreign intervention aimed at undermining our political system, critical infrastructure and social institutions,” Abets said.

“Given the new powers of the federal government under the diplomatic bill, it is from Minister Dutton to consider all foreign investments and the purchase of significant assets that could destroy our national interests and security. It’s a timely and appropriate decision. “