China is lying:
Beijing’s growing co-operation with the South Pacific is not a threat to Australia’s security, China’s local ambassador says, amid regional alarm a security pact with the Solomon Islands could pave the way for a military base.
In a further conciliatory sign from Ambassador Xiao Qian, he said common interests between Australia and China should outweigh differences that had fractured diplomatic and trade ties between the two countries.
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PM Morrison is lying:
Australian taxpayers forked out almost $20 million as an incentive for the Northern Territory to sell the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company, sparking Labor to claim that Prime Minister Scott Morrison actively encouraged the deal when he was treasurer.
Chinese company Landbridge secured a 99-year lease of the port in a $506 million deal with the NT government in 2015. The move unsettled national security figures and led to then-United States president Barack Obama expressing concern about the outcome later that year.
In Sunday night’s debate, Morrison said the federal government in 2015 did not have any authority to reject or approve the deal.
“The federal government had absolutely no authority over that sale whatsoever,” he said.
However, the federal government’s asset-recycling scheme offered millions of dollars to the NT government to sell the port. Under the scheme, states and territories were meant to receive 15 per cent of the price as an encouragement to privatise economically productive government assets.
LNP legend, Andrew Robb, received an astounding $2.2m for pulling this together. At least he’s not as cheap as Sam Dastayari.
Only actions are telling the truth. To wit:
Two potential sites for Chinese military bases in the Solomon Islands are already owned by Chinese interests, including a port near Honiara that could accommodate an aircraft carrier, a new report reveals.
The most likely is a port on the eastern edge of Honiara owned by prominent “old Chinese” businessman Lee Kwok Kuen, which “acts as an informal international port, much to the dismay of the Solomon Islands Ports Authority”, the paper says.
The second site identified in the report is the 3000ha Gold Ridge mine in the mountains near Honiara, which was purchased by three major Chinese companies in 2019.
The report’s author, University of Queensland emeritus professor Clive Moore, said the sites were already available to Beijing as “de facto” bases because they “already exist and are in Chinese corporate hands”.
The paper, which warns Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is a “self-serving” manipulator who cannot be trusted, comes ahead of a likely visit to the country by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
China is making it harder for its wealthy citizens to apply for investment migration visas in a bid to head off potential capital outflows via residents looking to escape the country’s prohibitive “COVID-zero” policies.
The latest moves, which could further weaken Chinese foreign investment into Australia, are part of a wider crackdown on underground financing and capital outflows as the Chinese economy slows and investors turn to US and European markets where interest rates are rising.
Once again, we can only observe that it is Beijing more than Canberra that most often acts in the Australian national interest.
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