Darwin Port (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Darwin Port (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Australia reviews controversial China Port lease near US military outpost

ANI | Updated: May 27, 2021 20:17 IST

Canberra [Australia], May 27 (ANI): A lease granted to China's Landbridge Group to function Darwin Port in northern Australia, has come under review, amid the worsening diplomatic ties between Canberra and Beijing.
Australian protection officers are reviewing the 99-year lease granted to Landbridge Group in 2015, in exchange for USD 392 million, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
The port is a key site in northern Australia for a significant naval base and gives the nation's closest path to disputed South China Sea waters. It also routinely helps with workouts of the Australian protection forces and hosts visits by Australian and international navies.
According to the WSJ report, the Chinese language lease deal blindsided Washington at the time, because it was not instructed upfront concerning the lease of the port by the Northern Territory authorities to Landbridge.
Michael Shoebridge, an expert at the Australian Strategic Coverage Institute said that there is a rising recognition by Australia and by our US ally of the worth of our strategic geography within the north, centered on Darwin.

"US and Australian techniques mean we have to make significantly better use of Darwin as a strategic asset for Naval and Air Forces, particularly."
On Wednesday, representatives of Landbridge stated the corporate would act to safeguard its pursuits ought to Australia terminate the lease. Vincent Lai, chief government of Landbridge Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. said Landbridge was keen to cooperate with the Australian authorities assessment.
Earlier this month, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton had said their government was looking into whether Landbridge should relinquish its lease under a set of strict laws on foreign investment in infrastructure, passed in 2018.
An Australian parliamentary in March had an inquiry called for the government to consider revoking the lease on national security grounds.
Sino-Australian relations have been in a downward spiral since April last year when Canberra infuriated Beijing by proposing an independent international inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canberra has been locked in an ongoing trade war with Beijing for several months as China has slapped sanctions on various Australian products. Last month, Australia canceled Beijing's Belt and Road projects, saying that the deal was against its national interest. (ANI)