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Biased views of China's lease of Darwin Port

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

12-08-2015 17:57 BJT

By Hou Jun, Ph.D. candidate majoring in International Relations at Research Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University

The Landbridge Group, a Chinese company, leased Australia's Darwin Port for 99 years at a cost of US$360 million. After the news went public, this normal commercial activity aroused the concern and queries of the United States (US). According Australian media reports, Australian National Defense officials and the relevant US authorities, held "emergency consultations", discussing the potential security risks posed by China's lease.  


The overreaction and belief in the "China threat theory" by some Americans and Australians illustrates their biased views of China's development and expansion of Chinese businesses overseas. 

The lease of the Darwin Port enhances mutual trust between China and Australia.

China and Australia share a close economic and trade relationship. China has been Australia’s largest trade partner for many years. In 2014, the bilateral trade volume reached US$ 128.17. billion The bilateral trade scale expanded over 1500 times since the establishment of diplomatic ties. In Nov. 2015, Australia officially approved a Free Trade Agreement with China.

Over the years, the two countries have organized regular annual meetings at the premier level and both countries have engaged in over 30 inter-governmental negotiations and other high-level exchanges.

Australia not only pays attention to their traditional relationship with the US, but also values the bilateral relationship with China. Australia ignored the US's attempt to contain China in the South China Sea, announcing their unwillingness to send warships to take part in America's "navigation freedom" task.

The lease of Darwin Port aptly illustrates the increasingly mature bilateral relationship between China and Australia. It is believed that mutual trust will be strengthened through more exchanges and cooperation. 

The lease of Darwin Port as a commercial activity will provide mutual benefits for China and Australia.

The lease by a Chinese corporation demonstrates the close economic and trading relationship between the two countries. The Chinese company, Landbridge Group, is the best investor on the basis of practical interests.

Among Australian ports, Darwin Port is the nearest to Asia and China. By ship, it only takes a week from Darwin Port to Shanghai Port—an unmatchable advantage to reduce logistic costs especially when compared with other ports in Australia.

From 2014-2015, the freight volume of Darwin Port is approx. 3.4 million tons, half of which is traded goods with China, mostly ore. Influenced by the jump of iron ore exports, the freight volume of the Port in 2014-2015 decreased by 40% compared with statistics from 2013.

Landbridge Group is a large private enterprise specializing in port development and enjoys a rich experience in port development and construction. Australia is expecting the Chinese to revitalize Darwin Port.

The newly signed China-Australia Free Trade Agreement would tremendously reduce tariffs, perhaps even to zero tariff. This will greatly promote the increase of bilateral trade which will revive Darwin Port and its important role in China-Australia economic and trade relationship.

The U.S. takes the China-Australia relationship in the wrong way.

The U.S. government opposed the commercial agreements between China and Australia as US officials believe that the lease of Darwin Port by a Chinese company threatens US military presence. In view of the concerns of the US, Australia's Prime Minister Mr. Turnbull, made it clear that the lease would not impact the actions of Australian troops or the passing of US navy ships.

The Australia Department of Defense made a public statement that the free access of warships will be guaranteed for 15 years and the Department is entitled to extend the agreement for another 25 years when it expires. Thus, the US concerns are reasonless. An influx US military presence near Darwin Port to prevent the so-called China’s expansion in the South Sea, will escalate tension in the region, since the commercial activities by the Chinese company is no threat to the US or Australia.

It is the US that needs an attitude adjustment. The US should let go of their Cold War mentality of control and prevention and instead adopt an attitude of cooperation, communication, peace and development.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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