Can Australia win a war with China?

New discord between Australia and China because of Darwin

The Australian government is reviewing the lease of the Chinese company Landbridge for the commercial and military port of Darwin. The contract signed in 2015 runs for 99 years. Defense Secretary Peter Dutton told the Sydney Morning Herald that at the end of the review, "we will look at options that are in our national interest". The Landbridge Group, owned by billionaire Ye Cheng, has close ties to the Chinese military, according to media reports.

The lease agreement with the Chinese company worries not only the Australian government, but also its ally USA. Darwin is the main port on Australia's north coast. It is considered the gateway to the Asian markets and a potential hub for raw material and agricultural exports.

US has naval base in Darwin

The US Marines have a base there. The deployment was part of the then US President Barack Obama's Asia strategy after China had become increasingly self-confident in the region.

Australian Secretary of Defense Peter Dutton (archive image)

Australia revised its foreign investor laws last year. You are now giving the government a veto right on contract projects for essential infrastructure. They also make it possible to review contracts that have already been signed and, as a result, to impose new conditions or cancel the contract.

The government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to make a decision on Darwin this year. Should the lease with Landbridge be annulled, this would exacerbate the already strained relations with Beijing.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has all agreements of strategic importance reviewed

Last month, the Morrison government had already canceled an agreement between China and the Australian state of Victoria on the "Belt and Road Initiative", which is also known as the "New Silk Road". The Beijing political leadership reacted angrily and warned of "serious damage" to relations. A State Department spokesman called on Australia to abandon the "cold war mentality and ideological bias".

In 2020, Canberra angered the Chinese by calling for an international investigation into the origin of the corona pandemic. The answer was trade sanctions.

As part of its Silk Road program, China is pushing ahead with the expansion of transport, trade and industrial infrastructure in numerous countries. Critics accuse Beijing of using the program's companies and projects as leverage for even greater geopolitical influence.

se / sti (afp, rtr)