In the midst of Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic, a range of Chinese companies, including those supported by State-Owned organisations have been circling a number of Australian strategic assets including the likes of Virgin Airlines. The warning that the ‘China takeover threat is real’ has been long heralded by minority politicians in Australia, but more recently conservative politicians are ringing alarm bells that there is an ‘imbalance’ in the China relationship.
According to information received by Life Begins At, a number of Chinese companies (some with links to State-Owned organisations) capitalised on the weak Australian dollar around the 20th March buying ‘large quantities of Australian dollars’ at discounted rates. Many also reportedly sort to capitalise on the weak stock market by securing stocks on the ASX. This caused grave concerns for the Foreign Investment Review Board.
The Foreign Investment Review Board moved quickly introducing temporary changes on the 29 March 2020 to Australia’s foreign investment framework…a week after the feeding frenzy on Australian companies began.
The Government introduced amendments to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Regulation 2015. The new Regulation amends the monetary thresholds which apply in determining whether particular foreign investments made on or after 10:30 pm (AEDT) Sunday, 29 March 2020 are subject to Australia’s foreign investment framework to nil. Meaning that every foreign investment must be approved by the FIRB.
Is it all too late for a China takeover?
It may be all too late! China is already the second-largest foreign owner of farmland in Australia with Chinese companies in control of 2.3 per cent of the nation’s land. The UK is the largest.
Chinese companies also hold the largest share of water resources in Australia.
But it’s China’s companies with State-Owned affiliations that are the concern. Already in Australia, Chinese companies own major mining companies (Yancoal), Gas Assets (PetroChina owns 50% of Arrow Energy), Gas pipelines as well as ports, airports as well as freight companies.
According to reports by major accounting firm KPMG, China has ‘poured more than $150billion into Australia by investing in or acquiring Aussie companies’.
Outspoken One Nation leader Pauline Hanson says the “less impact and ownership” from China in Australia the better.
“Of course they’ve got to be held accountable,” she said.
Ms Hanson told Sky News host Peter Gleeson China has “sent their tentacles around the world” including to Victoria, and warned Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews “don’t do the belt and road with China, you’re a bloody fool”.
Liberal Senator wants a ‘Nuremberg’ Like trial in wake of COVID-19
Queensland’s Liberal Senator, Amanda Stoker told Sixty Minutes that Australia needs to be part of a global push to force the Chinese Government to turn over its records.
The former barrister told the Sixty Minutes that “strong factual findings” that prove there was a clear failure to comply with international obligations to report what was going on could result in a monumental compensation claim against China.
“[Failure] to share medical data about how to manage it, and about human to human transmission, then you might have the opportunity to pursue compensation at an international level,” she said.
Two of the MPs, Liberal Andrew Hastie and Labor’s Anthony Byrne, have publically stated that there needs to be a discussion about a new relationship between China and Australia.
Andrew Hastie is the Chair of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security and has close ties to Australia’s intelligence community.
“The Australian people aren’t mugs. They know how COVID-19 started and how the CCP lied about it’’.Andrew Hastie
“They can send all the medical supplies in the world but we aren’t easily bought off. We need to have a national conversation about never letting ourselves be so vulnerable again.’’
Mr Byrne, deputy chair of the Committee, said there had to be a “fundamental realignment in our approach and how we relate to China.’’
“This crisis has exposed enormous fault lines in the global supply chain and illustrated why we need, in certain strategic areas, the capacity to manufacture essential items onshore,’’ he said.
“This conversation is already happening in supermarkets, florist shops and construction sites across the country.’’
Read more of Life Begins At