Last 8 February, Senator Fraser Anning posted the following message on Twitter:
“We must stop the Chinese takeover of
Australian land and infrastructure. They already control 9.1 million hectares
of land and key assets like the Port of Darwin. We must not bow to the Chinese
government and risk our national security.”
“Australia for Australians!! End the
The controversial Queensland Senator
echoed the sentiment of many Australians who are not pleased over China’s
expanding property investments in the country.
The lease of Port of Darwin to China,
the ownership of 9.1 million hectares of land by Chinese investors and the
ongoing foreign buyouts of infrastructures and properties prompted Anning to
make a bold stand for Australia.
In 2015 a 99-year lease to operate
the Port of Darwin was awarded to a Chinese company.
The agreement signed with the
Landbridge Group worth $506 million created a wave of geopolitical dissent in
Many citizens accused Adam Giles’
government of selling the port to China.
Washington was not pleased with the move either.
The port was the southern flank of
the US operations in the Pacific and former US President Barack Obama
complained they were not made aware of the transaction.
At that time, the silent tug of war
between United States and China on the South China Sea issue had already begun.
The deal did not sit well with
defense experts as it entails serious security implications. There were even
speculations that it could act as a front for Chinese “espionage or sabotage”
of US Navy vessels in the port.
Two years later, Australians were
alarmed by Landbridge group’s move to refinance the Port of Darwin.
The company used the port as security
for a loan of up to $500m from the Chinese government-owned Export-Import bank
(Exim). It was reported that the company pursued the loan to develop the port
as well as other Darwin-based projects.
Currently, Landbridge owns oil and
gas assets in Australia and is building a luxury hotel and industrial park in
Another point of concern for Anning
is the escalating Chinese ownership of Australian land.
In December 2018, it was reported
that China has added another 50,000 hectares to their Australian property
Despite the growing concerns over
foreign intrusion and security threats, the total area of land under China’s
control has ballooned to more than 9.1 million hectares.
Australians need to brace themselves
for a possible increase of China’s stake on their land because inquiries on
residential properties from Chinese buyers have increased in the final quarter
The renewed interest may have been
sparked by declining property values in Australia’s key cities and the
strengthening of Yuan.
Carrie Law, CEO and Director at
Juwai.com said “The Chinese yuan is now about 6% higher against the Australian
dollar compared to this time last year. That means the relative advantage in
currency rates is in favor of Australia compared to other major countries.”
“[That provides] an incentive for
Chinese buyers to direct their investment to Australia and other countries
where their purchasing power is still strong,” she added.
She also believes that the adverse
effects of the US/China trade war on the economy are pushing Chinese investors
to turn to Australia:
“With the trade war making some
Chinese investors increasingly nervous about making new acquisitions of US real
estate, some of those investors may turn to Australia as a natural
While this remains to be
seen, one thing is certain, Australians no longer welcome the idea of China
owning a big chunk of their beloved land.
It’s time for the government to
elevate measures to prevent a Chinese takeover to ensure their citizens that
foreign investments will not compromise national interest.