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There is a crisis between Australia and China. At stake are ports and billionaires’ deals

After blocking two Belt and Road deals in Victoria, the Australian government aims to tear up a franchise of half a billion dollars annually to lease the Darwin Pacific Center to a Chinese company.

A new slap in the face of China. Australia decided to question the 99-year concession of the Port of Darwin, a town of 140,000 people in the Northern Territory that was entrusted in 2015 to the Chinese company Landbridge. It is not just a port, given that it is one of the major trade hubs in the Pacific region, and it is capable of hosting shipments of up to 80,000 tons.

This is a side effect of the crisis that officially opened two weeks ago, after the Canberra government decided to halt two strategic agreements with China, which is part of the Ocean Silk Road, to build important infrastructure in the state of Victoria. Now, Australia appears to be backing away from a project valued at more than half a billion Australian dollars, the rent paid to the state for the nearly 100-year port lease and all related infrastructure.

And the belief that five years ago, the Australian Ministry of Defense described the concerns of part of the public as “absurd” about ceding Darwin Port to a Chinese company. Someone changed his mind, since the current Minister of Defense, Peter DuttonDuring the weekend, he confirmed that his administration would advise the implementation of the compulsory sale of the port, by virtue of the inclusion of the hub in the context of assets of national and strategic interest. A kind of southern golden power.

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This decision threatens to further damage the relations between China and Australia, which have already been fissured since the premiership Scott Morrison He called for an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, while strengthening ties between the former British colony and the United States. And then, as he indicated Bloomberg, The cancellation of an agreement of this size would be an absolute precedent in the history of relations between Australia and China. Because while in the case of companies like Huawei, Canberra simply shut the door, it’s a matter of sealing a deal and tearing it apart.

To be sure, political will is not lost and economists are already talking of real escalation and not just in Australia. We are facing a acceleration of events leading to the expulsion of Australia from China. But it is not an isolated case. The economist explained that we have noticed a long-standing crisis in trade relations with China, accompanied by a general rejection of companies from the People’s Republic of China. Hans Hendrichsch. For this reason, behind the desire to cancel the concession, “there was pressure, because the agreement itself is inconsistent with the interests of the United States.”

It is now clear that the Chinese Silk Road is in crisis (and not just in the Pacific). After a landslide Belt and Road In Africa, due to the inability of many countries to repay loans granted by Beijing, the Canberra government also decided to cancel the two contracts between Victoria and China in connection with the Belt and Road Initiative, which Beijing has promoted into an international cooperation strategy.

The cold shower came from the foreign minister, Maryse Ann Payne, Which has the power to review contracts concluded between the Australian states with third countries. Payne announced that it had canceled a total of four agreements, including the two that Victoria State – the second for the population of the former English colony – in 2018 and 2019. Now, the blow dealt to Darwin.

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Earl Warner

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