Washington/Beijing: Australia has rejected a Chinese company’s proposal, saying Chinese investment is a matter of national security. China State Construction Engineering, a subsidiary of China’s ruling Communist regime, had offered to take over Australian company Probuild. However, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the administration rejected the proposal. China has reacted sharply to Australia’s decision, with the Chinese spokesperson criticizing it for pursuing a discriminative policy against the Chinese companies.
In a statement released last week, the Australian company informed its decision to scrap the Chinese company’s proposal. The new law the Australian parliament passed last month was cited as the reason for the proposal’s cancellation. Last month, the Australian parliament approved a new bill into law, granting the government veto powers to curb China’s growing influence.
The law has the provision for terminating an agreement between any provincial administration, agency or institution in Australia with a foreign government or company. Although the legislation mentions foreign governments, it is said to be primarily aimed at agreements with China.
Even before the legislation was passed, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his administration took an aggressive stance against China’s growing interference. A few days ago, the government rejected a 400-megawatt power project that was to be set up by a Chinese company in Australia. Earlier, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had blocked Chinese company Mengniu’s attempts to acquire an Australian dairy company. Given the recent events, the latest rejection has left China nervous.
Chinese Spokesman Zhao Lijian has accused the Australian government of discriminating against Chinese companies and said their decisions violated the market principles. Also, Zhao accused Australia of politicizing issues on trade and investment.
China was found to have been expanding its influence in not just Australian politics, but also industry, technology and education. Australia has made a series of laws and aggressive decisions to prevent Chinese interference. Simultaneously, the country has even taken a firm stand against China on coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged the world, demanding an inquiry into it. Australia is openly challenging China, which is pressurising it, on the South China Sea, Hong Kong, 5G and several such issues.